Bird and Mammal Deterrents
Even the most ardent nature lover will start swearing up a storm when she discovers that mockingbirds have devoured her blackberries, deer are nibbling on her roses, or she trips over a mole hill. Humans and wildlife don't always get along, and your best bet is to try to convince the animals not to go where you don't want them. Barriers
, and netting
are some of the most effective ways to control for bothersome critters. Poisons
, especially for mice and rats, are available but should be used with great caution and only as a last resort. Don't forget, our biology is very similar to many of these animals; what's poison to a rat is poison to your dog, your children, and to you. Also, poisons have a way of affecting even animals that don't bother you, like turtles, oppossums, and frogs. Be very cautious.
Most people are happy to welcome birds into their gardens with bird baths
. They're fun to watch, pleasant to listen to and help control insects. But when they go after your plants, problems arise. They're especially fond of fruit crops, which often mature just as the birds are fattening up for the winter.
So what can you do? You can scare them away or protect your crops with a physical barrier. We haven't come much farther than scarecrows in terms of bird-frightening technologies, but a few of these might work in your garden.
Keep in mind, though, that birds are not as "bird they will eventually get used to whatever you put out. Moving deterrents are better than stationary ones, but birds are surprisingly adaptable and will often acclimate to anything you put out after a few days.
Also consider netting
to safeguard your berry and fruit crops. Physical barriers are your best bet, since it doesn't matter whether the birds are used to them or not. They'll also keep out many other pests, including some rodents.
The mammals that affect your garden can be as small as moles or as large as elk and the same tricks will not work for every species. These are a few ways of dealing with mammal pests and intruders.
Most animals that will destroy your garden are "prey" animals. Your dog or cat is a predator. Simply allowing your dog or cat to wander around, leaving some of its scent (yes, that means urine or feces) in the garden can have a potent effect on many pests. Further, cats and many dogs will frequently catch and kill rodents, so they can serve as a direct form of pest control. Be advised, however, that in some areas cats are required to wear bells
outdoors since they will also kill songbirds if they can.
Poisons should be used with extreme caution and only as a last resort. Remember, these are '''mammalian''' pests and the things that are toxic to them are just as dangerous to you, your family, and your pets. Try traps, repellents and resistant plants before you even think about setting out poisons.
Rodents and Rabbits
Rats, mice, and squirrels seem to live everywhere we live. Voles are a common problem in many areas as well. Rabbits are well-known garden thieves and woodchucks will also raid your plants. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of ways to deal with rodent and rabbit problems.
* Prevention is key.
** Remove food sources and hiding places.
** Don't leave pet food
** Don't mulch
close to the trunks of trees. This will prevent mice from getting close to your tree without detection.
* Some rodent problems, such as woodchucks, can be cleared up by leaving traces of dog scent in the garden.
** Dog hair may be enough. Allowing your dog to patrol is very effective.
** Your cat can also help out soiled litter from a cat that has eaten a wild animal is said to be an effective repellent especially against rabbits.
* The next step is to try repellents.
** Many plants that we find attractive are repugnant to many rodents seeds'>catmint.
*** The catmint will also attract cats, another smell sure to frighten off most rodents.
, however, should only be used around ornamentals.
* Large pests, namely rabbits and woodchucks, can be kept out by fencing. A electric rabbit fences
* If you have no choice but to relocate or destroy the animals, many mousetrap
is readily available at most hardware stores.
are available for some rodents, particularly rats and mice. As with all poisons, use them with extreme caution and only after other alternatives have failed.
Some gardeners consider moles to be a pest because of the molehills they create. As far as damage to the plants themselves, moles may cause some root damage but don't usually attack plants; they're predators on invertebrates. Moles can even be helpful, since they gobble up slugs and grubs that you might not want around. They also benefit the soil itself, since they aerate and till it while digging through it.
* One way to discourage moles without injuring them is by applying milky spore
** This will solve two problems it will kill many destructive beetle grubs (including Japanese beetles) and destroy the mole's food source.
** Without any food, moles will relocate to better feeding grounds.
* You can also try planting some mole-repellent plants:
** Castor Bean
** Mole Plant
** Mexican Marigold
** Siberian Squill
** Crown Imperial
* Commercial mole repellent, such as mole traps
on the market that you can place in their tunnels.
** Many are lethal, but Moletox
. Consider your decision carefully after all, your garden is a wild place to some degree, and the moles were there first. If you have young children or outdoor pets, mole poison is really a bad idea.
Elegant and graceful, deer are charming browsers who will eat your rhododendrons and roses without remorse. Their numbers are on the rise lately because they lack natural predators (aside from humans) in most of the United States. There are a number of ways to deter them, primarily by physical methods.
** Deer can jump, so your '''Netting'''
** Deer netting
can protect individual plants or clusters of plants.
* '''Noise, lights, and water'''
** A motion detector
can set off one or all three.
** Deer don't like getting hit by a hose
any more than you do.
** Loud sounds and bright lights
will scare them off.
** Commercial deer repellents
may be effective.
** Urine or feces from predators (including your dog).
** Unpleasant smells like garlic
or rotting eggs.
** Hot pepper spray
** Some plants are especially attractive to deer.
*** Azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, fruit trees, hostas, lillies, and euonymus are favorite snacks.
** However, there is a long list of plants that deer do not find attrractive.
*** You can read it in this guide from Lowe's
*** Keep in mind that these plants may be unpleasant, but in times of extreme hunger deer will still try them. No plant is 100% deer-proof.