Your garden is your pride and joy, which is why it's so annoying when bugs and critters start treating it like a buffet. There are tons of tricks to keep insect pests out of your plants, but these usually don't do a lot to help with bigger creatures, such as squirrels, raccoons, cats and deer. So, how do you keep animal pests from snacking on your flowers and vegetables? Here are a few ideas you can try to rectify the problem naturally:
Know Who the Culprit Is
Some pest prevention methods work very well on certain animals and less well for others, so it's important to do a little detective work to figure out who's getting into your garden. Keep an eye on your garden at various points throughout the day to see what kind of animals could be causing the problem. If you haven't been able to catch any animals in the act, see if you can find paw (or hoof) prints or droppings that could give you a clue.
Adjust Your Landscape
For smaller animals, like rabbits, squirrels, voles and more, you may be able to deter them by making some landscaping changes to your garden. Fill in any holes or other spots where animals may be able to hide, and clear away any tall grasses. The more open your garden is, the harder it will be for creatures to take cover. This means it will be less attractive to the animals and easier for you to catch them in the act.
Apply Blood Meal
Many animals, including deer and rabbits, are scared of the smell of blood, so blood meal can be a very effective deterrent. Blood meal is a dry powder made from blood (usually from meat-packing plants) that many people use to fertilize their gardens. It's a great organic fertilizer while also keeping prey animals away, making it doubly useful.
Strong scents are often a great animal repellant, though the scent you use should depend on the type of animal you're trying to keep away. Ammonia effectively keeps most animals away, while cayenne and other spicy scents are good for deterring deer. Try citrus scents to keep cats out of the plants (just scatter orange and lemon peels), or coffee grounds for a variety of animal pests.
Many people find that sensor-activated sprinklers and sounds help their pest problems immensely. As soon as an animal comes close enough, motion sensors will activate water or scary sounds, making the creature run away immediately. Though it's a little more expensive than other treatments, it's undeniably effective.
Keep Your Plants Contained
The most foolproof way to keep animals from eating holes in your plants and veggies? Put up a fence. If that's not an option, or you aren't crazy about the way it looks, consider using mesh covering from your garden store. Unlike shade covers, mesh allows sunlight to reach your plants, but it still acts as a barrier against animals. Just make sure there aren't any holes at the bottom of the mesh, or small animals will be able to sneak right under.