Gardeners everywhere have probably noticed how difficult it has become to garden without "giving away the farm." Brazen deer, clever raccoons, tenacious squirrels, rabbits, and birds can all decimate a garden turning months of work into rubble. Anyone who has been frustrated by these critters might have even considered giving up gardening. There are, however, new ways of dealing with potential garden crashers. The lawn and garden industry has come up with some innovative solutions to keeping unwanted animals out of the garden. Whether by ground-breaking methods or tried and true conventional methods, gardeners should be able to continue growing gardens without feeding the animals.
One of the best methods of protecting your crop against deer is by exclusion, or physically preventing the animals from encroaching upon the garden boundaries. Despite being athletic jumpers capable of clearing more than 80", whitetail deer are often frustrated by fencing 72" or higher and will likely jump higher only when chased. If you have problems with raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits in addition to deer, you may wish to install a welded wire fence that animals find more difficult to chew through than plastic fencing. An electric wire installed at the top of the fence will prevent the raccoons and squirrels from climbing over it into the garden. Another form of exclusion common to many of us is container gardening. Quite a number of common garden plants do well in containers and can be placed out of reach of most potential garden pests.
Some of us are not able to install fencing or electric wires because of local restrictions by townships or home owner associations and must resort to newer, less obtrusive methods of thwarting potential garden pillagers. Motion activated spray devices, sonic repellents, liquid deterrents, and scarecrow devices can all be good solutions when a fence is not possible. Motion activated spray devices look much like a sprinkler head attached to you garden hose, but work only when motion triggers the sensor. When animals activate the sensor by approaching the garden, they are sprayed with shots of water and learn quickly that the area is off limits. Sonic repellents will emit different frequencies of continuous sound (depending on the animal you are trying to repel) within an animals hearing range but not in most humans' audible range. Liquid deterrents simply release unpleasant scents that the animals find unappealing wherever it is sprayed. Scarecrow devices are generally most effective for controlling birds and squirrels. Not all scarecrows look like a prominent character in the "Wizard of Oz," though, and might come in the form of an owl decoy or fox cutout. When using a scarecrow, be sure to move it regularly so that animals do not become desensitized to it. The decoys and scarecrows that move with the wind are often more convenient to use as they require less frequent moving. A stationary scarecrow should really be moved every couple of days.
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