Home & Garden

How to keep pests (big or small) out of your garden

How to keep pests (big or small) out of your garden

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

How to keep pests (big or small) out of your garden

This story was originally titled "Beasts, Begone!" in the August 2010 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

In the dark of night as our gardens rest, they creep into our yards and take our harvest away. Who are these garden thieves? Deer, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and other backyard pests. There are plenty of high-tech devices available to protect your garden from these invaders, but here are some low-tech ways to turn your opponents' keen senses against them.

If something smells like a predator, most critters will run for their lives. Humans represent that threat for deer, so hanging bars of soap in nylon stockings from tree limbs in areas they frequent will help keep the deer away. To repel rabbits, you can place dog hair around your vegetable beds.

The sight – or perceived sight – of a predator is also effective at frightening off rabbits and small rodents. Placing a plastic owl near your prized plants may save them – but move the owl around during the growing season so the rabbits and rodents don't think the wise one is too lazy to swoop down on them.

Place a coarse mulch (such as beach stone) or even just a few stems of any thorny plant around your garden to encourage cats to find a litter box somewhere else.

The U.S. Forest Service uses rotten eggs to stop deer from damaging plants. Better yet, others have successfully tried a mix of rotten eggs and hot sauce. Test a small area of your garden with a splash of a mixture of one rotten egg and one teaspoon of hot sauce diluted in one litre of water. If it works, the whole batch will cover a 250-square-foot area (reapply after rain). A store-bought solution, Skoot, leaves a residual taste on trees and shrubs when applied in the late fall and will protect your garden during the winter months, when mice and moles can cause extensive damage.

Radios, alarms and wind chimes are all sound strategies. However, while deer and other creatures may initially be frightened off by Jay Z, in a matter of weeks it will be their favourite dinner music, so you'll need to change up your playlist. For instance, try radio music at dusk and dawn (feeding time for deer) one month, the sound of an alarm the following month, and talk radio the next. You just might want to let your neighbours know what you're up to before you begin. The good news is that many of these tips work on raccoons, too. By playing with predators' senses, you may just make your garden the most unpopular dining spot on the street.

Frankie's fab five rabbit- and deer- resistant plants
1. Daffodils:
A flowering perennial bulb (available in a wide variety) that's poisonous to most animals. Must be planted in fall. Hardiness zones vary.

2. Nannyberry: A native flowering shrub with many seasons of interest, such as spring bloom, summer berry and fall colour. Hardiness zones 3 to 9.

3. Flowering dogwood: A versatile plant with an early-spring flowering and late-season berries followed by fantastic fall colour. Hardiness zones 5 to 8.

4. Lenten rose:
Earlyflowering, shade-loving perennial. Semi-evergreen and extremely hardy. Hardiness zones 4 to 9.

5. Eastern hemlock:
Evergreen native in most regions of Canada. Hardiness zones 3 to 7. Gardeners beware: On very rare occasions, hungry deer and rabbits have been known to take a bite out of the above.

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How to keep pests (big or small) out of your garden