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Animals eating garden or landscape
Let’s face it, a lot of the lovely plants we buy to spice up the areas around our home have a different kind of appeal to wild animals. To Mother Nature’s furry friends, decorative plants, even just a well-kept lawn in general, can be a tempting source of food. There are plenty of animals out there that will eat your plants: rabbits, woodchucks, skunks, and so on, but there are others, like armadillos, that enjoy the little insects living in healthy gardens. Regardless of why they are there, these animal invaders usually leave a field of landscaping devastation in their wake.
If you go on the Internet, there are at least a dozen “home remedies” for keeping animals out of a garden or away from landscaping. These range from essential oil-soaked rags to moth balls to fake predator statues and lemon rinds, but they all have one thing in common: they almost never work.
Can I use chemicals to keep animals out of my garden?
It’s easy to appeal to our human desire to be “all natural” and live chemical-free, which is why the above mentioned solutions are so popular. You’ll even encounter testimonials that swear by whatever magic trick you’re looking into. In reality, odor deterrents, which are among the most common, don’t work very well. It’s true, animals have a strong sense of smell–stronger than humans in many cases–but there’s nothing about the smell of peppermint or lemon that strikes fear into their hearts. Think about it this way, if a pungent smell wouldn’t make you leave your home, chances are it won’t make an animal leave either.
So what about mothballs? Mothballs can smell horrible, you say, and yes, you won’t want to live in a mothball-smelling home. Mothballs are indeed powerful, but they are designed to keep certain insects away, not mammals. The only way mothballs will work is if you use so many of them, you won’t want to live in the house, either. What’s more, they contain known carcinogens. Don’t expose yourself to a potential cancer risk just to keep a woodchuck out from under your deck.
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Outside, smells are diluted as well, which makes them even less sensible to use for animals eating a garden or landscape. Because of this, many people turn to predator statues hoping the sight of a fake owl or coyote will keep smaller critters at bay. While this tactic may work for a short period of time, you need to give wild animals some credit. They aren’t big dumb idiots like we want them to be. Eventually, they are going to realize the “animal” in the yard doesn’t move, doesn’t make noise, and doesn’t smell like a predator.
Will installing a fence keep animals out of my garden?
So what can you do to keep animals from eating a garden or landscape? The easiest thing to do is install an exclusion fence. This is exactly as it sounds: a fence that encircles the area and prevents animals from entering. Sometimes exclusion fences need to be buried in the ground a foot or more for animals that like to dig. If it seems too easy, feel relieve; now you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy oils and strange statues.
Another option for homeowners is to really introduce a predator into the area. No, that doesn’t mean hang a hunk of meat from a tree and hope a mountain lion comes calling. It means considering getting a large dog. Large dogs can be a deterrent for wild animals, but be wary of introducing a dog into a situation where an animal is already living in your yard. A woodchuck, for example, living under the porch, will be more inclined to viciously defend a home it has established rather than just leave because of the dog.
Ultimately, when it comes to your yard, fencing is the number one way to keep animals out. If you want to keep a healthy, beautiful landscape, you will likely draw animals that want to appreciate it in their own way. If you’re still concerned about animals, or can’t afford to enclose your entire property, call a wildlife professional to evaluate the situation. There are usually inexpensive fencing alternatives for gardens and landscaping; you don’t need a thousand-dollar white picket fence. If anything, you want a fence made of metal or a durable plastic that wildlife can’t chew through. While wood fences look lovely, most creatures can easily gnaw their way between fence posts if they have the mind to do so.
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