How to keep Garden Pests out

How to keep garden pests out

How to keep garden pests out.  Living in the desert Southwest I see plenty of garden pests not just insects but larger pests like deer, rabbits, gophers, coyotes, and yes mountain lions.

How to keep Garden Pests out
Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

It’s awesome to observe these creatures in their natural habitat but when they start to chomp away at your vegetables or ornamentals well,  that’s another story.  Yet how can a rabbit resist munching on your crisp lettuce? Or a possum or raccoon stay away from your sweet corn patch? And your berries will always be attractive to a squirrel.

Keeping Birds out of Your Garden

Birds are a bird-watcher’s delight and somewhere between a mild and major nuisance to the gardeners. They do less harm than the four-legged animals. Birds have several natural enemies, so you can scare the birds by fooling them into thinking their enemies are around.

Warbler pecking away on an apple. These birds also eats worms including grubs and borer worms.
Image by Amanda Benade from Pixabay

A humming line made of very thin nylon will vibrate and hum in even the slightest breeze. It’s inaudible to us but heard by the birds. This works well with strawberries. Unusual noises can be created with aluminum pie plates loosely tied to stakes or leaving a radio on at night. Installing some blinking lights, hawk-like balloons, or kites that mimic larger birds can also be effective.

And of course, the two old stand-bys – plastic owls, and scarecrows,  – always help out with the bird problem. Birds and other animals need a source of drinking water, eliminating any standing water near the garden.  Read more about keeping birds out of your trees.

Four Legged Pests

Nighttime is prowl time for the four-legged pests. Each animal has a distinctive footprint and each has its favorite delicacy to munch on. Many of them, such as deer and raccoons, can be eliminated by putting an electric fence or other barrier around the garden. Pocket gophers can be stopped by putting a fence made of hardware cloth two feet below and two feet above the surface of the garden.

Chicken wire to keep rabbits out

A chicken-wire fence works the best for rabbits, but the holes need to be 1” or smaller. Those young rabbits aren’t very big. To keep the mice from eating your fruit tree’s bark, sink wire mesh or ¼” hardware cloth several inches into the ground around the fruit trees.

Chicken wire
Chicken wire to keep larger rabbits out. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

How can you tell which animal is doing the munching during the night? Footprints are one way. Another is to place about 10 marshmallows out in one spot where the animal has been feeding. Cats won’t eat the marshmallows. Raccoons and skunks will eat all of them in one sitting.

Possums will only eat one or two, and then come back later for another one. Some animals will only be eliminated by being caught in a trap. After they are caught be sure to take them at least one mile away and release them in a natural habitat. And, be careful not to get bitten. Rabies is a reality among wild animals.

Gardening leaves one with a feeling of accomplishment and peace. The joy of picking your fresh vegetables right before dinner can hardly be matched by any other activity.  The only thing that comes close is picking your flowers from your flowering Garden.

Fending off the various animals that want to enjoy both your flower and vegetable gardens can be both time-consuming and frustrating. Learning how to chase them off without poisoning both them and your vegetables remains a crucial part of being a good gardener.

Toxic Pesticides

As scientists begin to realize the damaging effects of pesticides and other poisons on the human body, the use of toxic methods needs to be carefully considered but the best option is to use organic methods.

List of Organic Pesticides

  1. Neem oil: Derived from the neem tree, neem oil acts as an insect repellent and disrupts the feeding and breeding patterns of pests.
  2. Pyrethrin: Extracted from the flowers of the chrysanthemum plant, pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that targets a wide range of pests.
  3. Diatomaceous earth: Made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, diatomaceous earth is a powder that damages the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.
  4. Garlic spray: A homemade solution made by blending garlic cloves and water, garlic spray helps repel pests such as aphids, mites, and beetles.
  5. Soap-based insecticides: Soap-based insecticides, such as insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils, work by suffocating soft-bodied pests like aphids, mites, and whiteflies. How to use insecticidal Soaps.
  6. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt): Bt is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces proteins toxic to certain insect larvae, such as caterpillars and mosquito larvae.
  7. Copper fungicides: Copper-based fungicides are used to control fungal diseases on plants, such as powdery mildew and leaf spot.


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