Keep Pests Out of Your Garden

I recently saw a movie with my grandkids. It was an adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden. Which got me thinking…

You put a significant amount of time into planting and cultivating your garden.

You’re proud of how it looks. You love walking carefully through it to check on the progress of your vegetables and fruits. Maybe you even talk to them, encouraging them to grow to their full potential.

But now you’ve discovered your plants have an enemy. Or maybe several enemies. And you’ve decided that any enemy of your garden is an enemy of yours.

Of course, these enemies are the critters who have found their way into your garden. They are wreaking havoc with the plants that would otherwise be providing you and your family with meals following their harvesting.

Among these persistent pests could be rabbits, squirrels, gophers, woodchucks, raccoons, skunks, moles and voles. These conscienceless thieves may look cute, but in your weaker moments you might wish you could send them to the great beyond with a shotgun blast.

Assuming you are a more peaceful sort who realizes they are trying to survive like all of us, there are other ways of going about it. And considering the time you’ve put into your garden, it’s worth whatever effort is needed to protect your investment. offers some great suggestions. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Identify the invading critter or critters. Do some research into their habits, which could help you find the best way to keep them out.
  • Make your garden less attractive to these creatures. Get rid of brush piles and tall grass where they can hide or nest.
  • Minimize nearby food sources. You can do this by cleaning up birdseed (squirrels) and covering your compost pile (raccoons).
  • Use beneficial nematodes and Milky Spore on your lawn to reduce grub populations (moles, skunks).
  • Seal off access to crawl spaces under your deck or porch (all sorts of critters).

Here are some safe and humane ways to control the critters who otherwise will be helping themselves to the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.

  • Scent repellents. Temporary solutions include castor oil, garlic clips and predator urine, including that of coyotes. (There actually is a product called “Coyote Urine.”) Small animals recognize that smell and don’t want to end up as a coyote’s lunch.
  • Scare devices. Motion-activated water sprayers, noise makers and reflective tape can be effective deterrents. You can also acquire an ultrasonic repellent. Keep in mind, though, that pests usually catch on to these tricks eventually.
  • Assuming they are unable to get into your garden, your dogs and cats can help keep pests at bay. Dogs can do it just by their presence. Cats will actually catch voles and gophers.
  • Live traps. You can use crackers, vegetables or other food to lure an animal into a trap made of galvanized steel mesh. Check your state laws regarding relocating wildlife.
  • This might be the best way to go for many folks. Plastic poles and polyethylene mesh can give you an effective barrier while still allowing you a great view of your garden. And you can take this fence down after you harvest your plants if you want to. An electric fence is another option.

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