The best-designed garden won’t last long if you don’t have a protection plan for area wildlife. Here’s how to make sure your new plantings don’t turn into the neighborhood buffet.
RESEARCH YOUR AREA
The best defense against these hungry creatures requires a comprehensive understanding of which ones live in your specific location — and what they’re most likely to munch on. If you live toward the edge of town, for instance, you might be regularly visited by chomping deer. There are a number of plants that they simply won’t eat — and that’s typical of many forms of wildlife. Marigolds, for instance, keep rabbits away, and they make great container plants. Mint and lavender work with some pests. Local ag center representatives can help you learn more. If all else fails, they can also recommend which wildlife experts to bring in to solve stubborn issues.
Poison baits and traps can be harmful to curious children and pets. Instead, consider the myriad of natural sprays, granular agents and repellents that rely on lights or sounds. Scent repellents can be directly applied to your tender greenery, while granular versions are spread on flowerbeds and garden entryways to keep curious animals away. Some repellents, including light- and sound-based versions, can be staked throughout the garden in covered rainproof stands to create a safe perimeter. Keep in mind, however, that some sound repellents can be an annoyance to neighbors, especially smaller children. Animals sometimes become conditioned too, and their effectiveness diminishes.
FENCING IT OFF
In some cases, building a fence may be required — especially with larger grazing animals. Some are created in an easy-to-dissemble manner that makes them more seasonally convenient. Barriers meant to defense against deer, however, need to be at least 8-10 feet tall, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They’ll need more permanent structure in order to ward off mature deer. Burrowing animals like moles, gophers or voles are interested in different things.
Gophers like to dine on bulbs and roots. Some have had success keeping gophers away by placing wire mesh under the plants. Voles eat grasses, and gnaw on stems and shrubs near their holes. Moles only eat earthworms, grubs and other insects — but they leave unsightly volcano-shaped mounds all over your garden.