by High Country Gardens
Protecting Your Garden from Browsing Animals
Gardens can always be found attractive to deer and rabbits because of their fresh supply of greens. Chemicals and tall fences are two ways of dealing with unwanted browsers. A more natural way of deterring animals from snacking in your garden is putting in plants animals don't like.
Rabbit Resistant Plants
If rabbits like eating the bark off your trees (especially fruit trees) during the winter try wrapping trees with foil or burlap or encircling it with chicken wire. Red pepper spray or ground-up red pepper sprinkled on the ground is another way to ward off rabbits and squirrels. Following are partial lists of plants that rabbits reputedly like and don't like.
Plants that rabbits don't usually like:
- Russian sage
- Orange globe mallow
- Ratibida (yellow and Mexican Hat)
- Silver-edged horehound
- ...and evergreen bushes and trees
Plants that rabbits LOVE to eat include (not rabbit resistant):
Other Ways to Repel Rabbits:
- Dog hair: After brushing the dog, place the hair among plants and in the joints of the edging strips around the trees.
- Mothballs: Scatter mothballs around the garden. Needs to be re-applied frequently.
- Cat litter: Place the used cat litter along the edges of the garden and ring plants with it. Continue to replace with newly used litter.
Several years ago a reader in Eastern Washington said the deer and elk were flocking to her garden, nearly wiping it out. She even found them digging into some of the "deer-resistant" plants. She thought it was because of the drought. "They were starved and ate anything, even roses-thorns and all," she wrote. "But when the rains came and there was more greenery for them, the deer resistant plants worked.
Her list of plants that the deer didn't like included:
- Bachelor's buttons
Erecting a deer "trap" around your garden is another option. Lay a series of 2×4s between rows and around the perimeter. On top of this framing lay fencing wire with large mesh. Deer are afraid of walking on the fence because their feet will get caught. Parallel mesh wire fences approximately 6 ft. tall placed about 4-5 ft. apart is a formidable barrier that deer will not jump (unlike a single fence).
Another trick to keeping deer away from trees is hanging bars of soap from the branches. Position the bars of soap about every three feet.
Natural (Non-Pesticide) Products
Here are some natural products that you can use to deter gophers, rabbits, deer, and other browsers.
- Bulb Guard: Soak bulbs before planting. Good for repelling gophers, moles, voles.
- Deer Off: Spray onto foliage every few months. Good for repelling deer, rabbits, squirrels.
- Mole and Gopher Repel: Apply to the soil surface and water it in to move it down into the soil. Good for repelling moles and gophers. Apply when gophers become active in late summer and again in early to mid-spring.
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