Garden critters

Growing a garden is a great way to enjoy fresh produce, save money and reduce your impact on the environment. Regardless of where you live or what you are growing, you have probably had the experience of local wildlife dining on your hard work. These four tips will help to keep critters out of your garden without harsh chemicals or inhumane traps while allowing you to enjoy more of the fruits of your labor.

1. Use natural scent repellents. One thing that all vegetable thieving critters have in common is predators. Whether you are dealing with deer, moles, rabbits or squirrels, there are certain smells that are sure to send them running. Common scent repellents include fox, dog and coyote urine. Just sprinkle it on posts or rags throughout the garden. Keep an eye on the garden and replenish the rags periodically for the greatest effect. While not as effective, human scents can also be used to repel pests. Hair clippings are a great way to leave a scent near your garden that critters will avoid.

2. Build mesh perimeters. Wire mesh and hardwire cloth are both affordable ways to keep critters out of your garden. All you need are a few stakes, some fencing and a staple gun. The barrier is flexible and light enough to move when you need to get access to the garden but strong enough to keep many of the common garden pests out. For digging pests, such as raccoons or moles, dig a small trench and place the fence inside. Most pests will give up the moment that they realize they cannot slip right under the mesh.

3. Plant undesirable plants throughout your garden. By planting strong-smelling or tasting plants, such as onions, cayenne peppers, garlic or marigolds, throughout your garden, you can repel potential grazers. Placing plants both around the perimeter of the garden and near the desirable plants is often most effective. If you cannot add more plants to your garden, consider sprinkling ground cayenne peppers and minced garlic throughout the garden periodically.

4. Make the area less attractive to wildlife. By sealing open spaces, removing tall weeds, sealing garbage or compost containers and leaving open spaces around and inside your garden, you reduce the appeal that the area has for many common garden invaders. Adding one-foot spaces between the rows in your garden increases visibility and leaves smaller critters, such as rabbits or moles, vulnerable to predators. In most cases, these measures will cause local wildlife to find more convenient locations to graze and feed.