How to keep animals away from garden

Scat! How to keep animals out of your flower and vegetable gardens

Here are a few tips for keeping critters away from your favourite plants. Of course, you might decide to just put up with them if they aren’t doing too much damage – they are part of nature, after all!


  • Choose bulbs that aren’t these little rodents’ favourites. Good choices are allium, daffodils, grape hyacinth and scilla.
  • Place chicken wire over your beds and bulbs after planting them.
  • Spread some dog or cat hair around as a repellent. Replace it with fresh hair regularly.
  • Sprinkle chicken manure fertilizer on the soil. Squirrels don’t like the smell. Remember to follow the directions on the label.


  • To protect your seedlings, place chicken wire on the soil or insert several sticks in the soil on an angle.
  • In borders, place mulch, twigs or stones between the plants to discourage cats from digging in the soil.
  • Install a motion-activated sprinkler.
  • As a last resort, use a repellent with oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin as the active ingredients. Remember to follow the directions on the label.


  • Block off any areas where these animals like to go, like under balconies, decks and sheds. Be careful not to block off the entrance if the animal or any babies are inside.
  • Fence off your vegetable garden.
  • As a last resort, use a repellent with oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin as the active ingredients. Remember to follow the directions on the label.

Skunks and raccoons

  • Use garbage cans with lids that are difficult for these animals to remove. Metal cans are good because they can’t be chewed. Scrub out your garbage cans regularly to remove any odours that might attract animals.
  • Block off any areas where these animals like to go, like under balconies, decks and sheds. Be careful not to block off the entrance if the animal or any babies are inside.
  • These animals sometimes dig up lawns to find their favourite white grubs. If they aren’t causing too much damage, leave them be, because they’re your allies in keeping down the grubs! You will need to replace any patches of lawn that they dig up every day, though. If your lawn suffers serious damage, apply nematodes (microscopic worms that are parasitic on white grubs) between mid-August and mid-September to reduce the number of larvae in the soil.
  • As a last resort, use a repellent with oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin as the active ingredients. Remember to follow the directions on the label.
  • Plant deer-resistant shrubs. You can consult the following books for advice:
    • In English:
      • Hart, Rhonda Massingham. Deerproofing your Yard & Garden, 2nd ed. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2005.
    • In French:
      • Dumont, Bertrand. Les niches écologiques des arbres, arbustes et conifères, Bertrand Dumont Éditeur, Boucherville, 2005, 405 p.
      • Hodgson, Larry. Les arbustes, Éditions Broquet, Saint-Constant, 2002, 616 p.
  • Install a deer fence.
  • As a last resort, use a repellent made from dehydrated rotting eggs. Remember to follow the directions on the label.

Based on an article by Christine Perreault in Quatre-Temps magazine, Vol. 31, No.3, 2007

How to Keep Animals Out of Your Garden

Most animals have acute senses of smell and taste, so you also can try scent repellents should rabbits or raccoons try to claim your garden as their territory. Small plastic bottles half-filled with ammonia and placed among plants will repel most wandering animals with one whiff, and ammonia-soaked rags stuffed into burrows may send other animals packing, too. Hot pepper sprays applied around the garden’s edge can help deter veggie-eating mammals, but they must taste it or get it on their paws first. Rather than dousing your salad greens with strong flavors, try soaking strips of cloth in a tea made from cayenne pepper and garlic and placing the strips among plants that are being damaged.

Peaceful Coexistence with Wildlife

Most of us love to watch wildlife, but we don’t want them getting the wrong idea about who’s in charge. Accidental invitations to come back for repeat visits, such as leaving uneaten pet food outdoors or not securing garbage can lids, are how wildlife problems often begin. Never feed wild animals because doing so leads to population increases. If you often see critters having breakfast beneath your bird feeder, consider suspending feeding during the summer months, when birds can find plenty of food on their own.

Defend Your Beds with Homemade Critter Cages

• One 6-foot-long piece of 2-by-4-inch mesh, 5- or 6-foot-wide flexible welded wire fencing, or 12 feet of 36-inch-wide poultry netting (chicken wire) or hardware cloth
• Lightweight bolt cutters
• 12 plastic zip ties
• Heavy-duty work gloves

1. Working on a level surface, cut a 6-foot-long piece from 5- or 6-foot-wide flexible wire fencing (6-foot-wide fencing is hard to find). If you are using narrower poultry netting or hardware cloth, cut two 6-foot-long pieces and use zip ties to fasten them together to make one large piece, 6 feet long and 6 feet wide.

2. Fashion the square of wire fencing, poultry netting or hardware cloth into a box by making two 14-inch-deep cuts on each end, each one 14 inches in from the outer edge.

3. Bend the sides of the cage at right angles, allowing the flaps to stay straight. Then bend down the large middle piece of fencing at each end, at right angles.

4. One at a time, bend the cut flaps inward, over the top piece. As each end is bent into place, secure it with two or more zip ties.

5. Place the cage over a bed or planting in need of protection from animals, pressing firmly so the edges are slightly buried in soil or mulch.


Note: See the Slideshow for a visual of this technique.

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on Google+.

Raccoon Repellent – What deterrent works?

Raccoon Repellent: Natural Home Recipes – Raccoons are drawn to areas populated by humans because of the abundant food supply. People leave out food for pets, and it is easy for a raccoon to eat the food instead. They are also quite adept at getting into garbage cans and making a meal of the food scraps inside. Once a raccoon has discovered a source of food around your house, getting rid of it is not an easy feat. It will continue to come around in search of more food. There are a number of natural home recipes you can try to repel raccoons, but please don’t buy crap from Home Depot, like mothball flakes.

COMMON PROBLEMS: We understand that you want a repellent for raccoons, some sort of spray or powder or device that will keep them away from their destructive behavior. Raccoons are now much more common in cities than in the forest. They have learned to adapt to urban environments, use human shelter and food sources, and they have largely lost fear of people. They are agile, strong, intelligent, and have nimble hands. Thus, they cause some of the following problems:

  • Breaking into an attic, and setting up a nest
  • Crawling into a chimney and living there
  • Concern over fearless raccoon, or attack on pets.
  • Concern about a sick or rabid raccoon on property.
  • Eating from garbage cans, pet food, bird seed, etc.
  • Killing and eating pet birds, decorative fish, chickens, etc.
  • Depositing feces in swimming pool, on porch, yard, etc.
  • Digging up your yard, eating crops, etc.
  • Digging in garden or eating crops like sweet corn.
  • Raiding a chicken coop, or any other structure.

I will discuss some possible repellents below. But I believe you’ll be disappointed. A raccoon won’t leave an area just because of some scent. In fact, the repellents you can buy from Home Depot and Lowe’s and online are usually just mothballs, which cost pennies to make, and poison the environment. The best “repellent” is often to eliminate whatever is attracting the animals. Or you can trap and remove them. Hot Pepper Repellent
Raccoons have a very good sense of smell, and they do not like the smell of pepper. You can make a liquid pepper repellent that may keep raccoons away from your home and garden. To make the pepper repellent, get a bottle of hot sauce or a jar or can of cayenne pepper. Fill a one gallon container with water and then add the hot sauce or pepper. Stir the mixture, and then add a few drops of liquid dish detergent. This will help the repellent stay where you spray it. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and keep the rest in the refrigerator. Spray the pepper repellent around your plants if you have a raccoon trying to get your plants and vegetables, or spray it around the perimeters of your yard and next to trashcans. When the raccoon comes around, the strong scent of the pepper may send it scurrying away. The pepper will lose its scent after a few days, so re-spray as necessary.
GET HELP: Do you need professional help with a raccoon problem? We have wildlife experts servicing almost every area of the USA! HIRE US IN YOUR TOWN
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Onion and Pepper Repellent
The onion and pepper scent of this repellent is not an appetizing smell to a raccoon, so this repellent may help keep raccoons away. In a large pot, combine ½ gallon of water, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, one chopped jalapeno pepper, and one chopped onion. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and then let it steep for twenty minutes. Remove the pepper and onion and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the onion and pepper repellent along the perimeters of your yard and around your garden. Spray it around your trashcans as well to keep raccoons from getting into your garbage. Since the smell will fade after a few days, you will need to spray the mixture twice a week.
Raccoons, despite their tendency to make a huge mess out of a can of garbage, are very clean animals. They do not urinate in or around their dens, and they don’t like the scent of urine around their food. Urine contains ammonia, the scent of which is very strong. You can try to deter a raccoon from hanging around your house and your garbage by soaking some rags in ammonia and placing them strategically around your yard. Place them beside or on top of your garbage cans as well. When the raccoon smells the ammonia, it may think it is the urine of an animal, and it may decide to go elsewhere.
Reduce Raccoon Enticers
Unfortunately, these natural deterrents are not likely to keep a raccoon away for good one it has decided that your yard is a great food source. This could lead to a raccoon taking up residence in your attic or an outbuilding so that it can be close to its food. You will need to make sure that the raccoon has no reason to hang around your home. Make sure that you do not leave pet food out, particularly at night when a raccoon will be foraging. If you feed your pets outdoors, remove the food after the animal has eaten so that there won’t be any left around for a hungry raccoon.
If you have fruit trees, be sure to clean up the fruit that falls from the tree. As it rots, the smell of the fruit becomes more pungent, which could attract a raccoon. Get rid of the fruit before this happens. You also need to make sure that you keep your garbage cans secure. Get a heavy duty can that is hard to knock over, and make sure the lid fits securely. If you can find one, get a can that has a latch attachment to keep the lid closed or weigh it down so that a hungry raccoon can’t get to your garbage bags.
Seal Your Roof and Attic
You also want to make sure that a raccoon can’t get into your house. Once it gets in, it is hard to remove it humanely and effectively. Check your roof and attic for any loose boards or open vents that may allow entry to a raccoon, and put a cap on the chimney. Make sure the doors to any outbuildings shut securely and that there are no holes in the roof or rotten boards in the walls. A raccoon can get through a hole that is only a few inches wide, so check everything thoroughly.

Mothballs – the Worst Raccoon Repellent
Moth balls and other napthalene products are sold by the boatload, because it is cheap, and it stinks, so people assume it will work. First of all, it poisonous to the environment. But that hardly matters, because it just plain doesn’t work! In fact, none of the above repellent products work. Do you really think a raccoon is going to give up its only home, its only territory on which it relies to survive because of a bad odor? If a raccoon leaves its territory, this is a death sentence, and the animal knows it. It will tolerate any possible repellent or deterrent device, from high pitch sound machines, or any kind of noise like a loud radio, strobing or flashing light, or any unpleasant scent. Raccoon repellents just don’t work. The only real cure is to keep them from wanting to use your property.

Go back to the main Raccoon Removal page for more information about raccoon repellent such as bleach, ammonia, mothballs. Can you buy something at Home Depot to repel raccoon?

How to Deter Animals from Your Garden

  • Raccoons
    • Don’t like prickly plants as they have sensitive feet. They will avoid squashes, cucumbers and other plants with spiky leaves.
    • Don’t like spicy things. Plant garlic, hot peppers, and any other nightshade veggie.
    • Don’t like the smell of peppermint.
    • Discourage raccoons by using motion activated lights
    • Do not leave your pet’s food out.
    • Do not like the smell of ammonia. Soak tennis balls or rags in bleach and place them around the yard.
    • Do not like the smell of peppermint. See rats and mice.
  • Squirrels
    • Remove what attracts them, such as fallen fruits and seeds.
    • Protect tulips and other bulbs by planting daffodils, ornamental onions, snowdrops, and muscari with them, as squirrels don’t like these. Daffodils and Narcissus are toxic to them.
    • Dislike the smell of nasturtiums and marigolds. Planting them in your garden will deter them.
    • Hen manure is a smell squirrels do not like. It can be purchased in a pellet form. The scent is undetectable to humans.
  • Rabbits
    • Using ¼” to ½” chicken wire, make cylinders to protect new trees or shrubs. Bury the collar. The cylinder should be 2” – 4” larger than the diameter of the plant.
    • Remove any evidence of nesting and block the area.
  • Cats
    • Tend to dislike the smell of citrus. Plant lemon scented plants such as citronella or lemon balm, or chop up the peel from lemons, oranges and grapefruit and place them around the garden. Coffee grounds mixed in with the citrus also helps, and these act as natural fertilizers as they decompose.
    • Dislike marigolds.
  • Dogs
    • Fence the area off.
    • Using an equal mix of dried mustard powder and crushed dried pepper, disperse around the garden. Reapply after rain
  • Rats and Mice
    • Prevention is the best control method. Keep your garden, shed and home clean. If storing any seeds in a shed or garage, put them in a plastic or metal container. Put all garbage in a closed bin.
    • Rodents in the garden can be identified by sight, plants disappearing overnight without a trace or appear to be pulled under the ground from below, tunnels in the ground, or mounds and droppings that look like black grains of rice.
    • An eco-friendly deterrent is peppermint essential oil. Peppermint has a strong aroma which is unpleasant to rodents. Mix it with water and spray it in corners and around entrances to nests and burrows. Apply a few drops to a cotton ball and place in affected areas. Citronella and eucalyptus oil can also be used. Replace the cotton and respray approximately every two weeks.
    • Rodent proof any sheds, garages or your home by repairing any cracks or holes, as they can squeeze through very small gaps.
    • Remove their shelter. Rats and mice like to make nests in brush and wood piles. Elevate wood piles or periodically move or rearrange them.
    • There are a variety of traps on the market from live traps to snap traps. In the yard, put the trap under a milk crate or inside a box so other animals are not hurt by the trap. Poison is another alternative. Caution must be used as the poisons are extremely harmful to humans and pets.
    • If live traps are used, remember trapped animals are dangerous. Always handle traps carefully and wear thick, protective gloves when disposing of dead rodents. You’re your hands with soap and water after handling traps or rodent carcasses.

Pest-Management Plants

SERIES 18 | Episode 05

A challenge for any gardener is the control of destructive pests and insects throughout the year. But rather than use sprays and chemicals, it’s possible to use plants to help manage pests. It’s called companion planting – it keeps your garden healthy, and it’s wonderful for encouraging biodiversity.

Pest controlling plants come under two categories – those that repel or confuse insects with strong scent, such as sage, oregano, lavender and basil, and those that attract beneficial insects, such as elder, dill and fennel. These plants often have flowers or foliage that attract insects that prey on other pests in the garden.

Pest repellant plants actually work in three different ways. The first -masking plants – include thyme, lavender and scented geranium. These produce strong, volatile oils and scent that actually masks the plants the insects might be looking for.

There are also repellant plants such as cotton lavender or santolina, tansy and wormwood. These plants produce a scent or taste that is so bitter or putrid it drives insects away.

Finally, there are plants that contain natural toxins or poisons which can be used to make sprays or washes. These include fennel, which can be used as a flea repellant for animals, feverfew, or chamomile, which can be used as an anti fungal agent, and the dried flower of pyrethrum or chopped chilli, which can be used as insect sprays.

Pest repellant plants work in various ways in the garden. Tansy is terrific at repelling ants and flies so you might want to plant it outside your back door or near windows. But pick the leaves and rub them on the back of your cat and dog because they’ll actually get rid of fleas.

Lavender, which has an incredibly strong scent, can be planted to protect nearby plants from pests such as white fly. In Sydney’s Botanical Gardens it’s also used to mask the scent of roses from aphids.

Basil is another companion plant that is often used to repel aphids. But if you grow a pot near your barbecue area, it will also keep away flies and mosquitoes. Sweet marjoram is often planted near gardenias or roses so that its strong scent will mask or confuse pests attracted to their flowers. Plants such as elder, dill and fennel all have umbels made up of hundreds of little flowers, and these are grown to attract hover flies, which eat other pests in the garden.

Wormwood has a strong pungent scent that’s fantastic at deterring insects. I’ve used it around our vegetable patch and it’s really good at keeping away white cabbage moth.

Planting many of these herbs in your garden will not only diversify your design, but also add attractive, interesting and aromatic elements to it. Gardeners in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens new Palace Rose Garden are using companion plants well to not only deter pests, but also to attract beneficial insects. Previously they used 400 litres of chemicals every fortnight and now they’re using none. The result is a much more vibrant and diversified garden. Not only is it better for the environment, but it looks better too.

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

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Something is eating my lavender

I have to ‘fess up and say I am actually an Englishwoman in France, though the countryside here is similar to the English Lake District, with slightly warmer summers and colder winters. (Yes, you CAN have your Kendal Mint Cake and eat it!)

In spring I sowed some English lavender seeds (Munstead, Hidcote & Elegance Sky). I gave them the pre-sowing fridge treatment. Munstead & Hidcote germinated well, Elegance Sky less so. They are currently being grown on in pots on a shelf on my patio, ready to be planted out (when large enough) underneath some bare-rooted rosa rugosa à Parfum de l’Haÿ I have also yet to buy. The lavenders are I suppose about 7-10cm high now.

I recently noticed that several of the plants are looking rather denuded, and it seems that something has been eating the tender young leaves. It is as if someone has taken a very tiny pair of scissors and cut off each leaf at about 2mm from where it meets the stem.

I have read that there is a metallic-green and red coloured beetle and its grey slug-like larvae which might be responsible. It is a southern European pest but has recently migrated north and has now reached the UK. I have studied the plants and the soil and have shaken the pots but I cannot see any trace. I have given the pots a misting with soft soap anyway, and will carry on doing this.

If anyone knows anything about these pests and why there is no evidence of them (are they perhaps nocturnal?) or can suggest any other possible cause for my munched leaves I’d love to hear from you.

9 plants that bug bugs — including mosquitoes


BOISE, Idaho — Summer is almost here, and you’ll want to spend more time in your backyards and gardens.

Unfortunately, so will the bugs. And because of viruses such as Zika and West Nile, mosquitoes are a big concern.

You can plant herbs and flowers that repel those bugs, including mosquitoes, and add a touch of beauty to your backyard.

One sure sign of summer is bugs.

Some critters eat at your fruits and vegetables while others, such as flies and mosquitoes, eat at your patience. Some plants have strong scents that bugs don’t like, making them good insect repellents.

At the same time, they make attractive additions to home landscapes. Here are nine favorite plants that bug the bugs:

1. Marigolds. These flowers are colorful additions to landscaping, but they have a distinctive smell that repels mosquitoes and other garden pests, including squash bugs and tomato worms. Marigolds contain a natural compound used in many insect repellents.

Plant some marigolds in the garden among your squash, melons and tomatoes or near open windows and doorways where mosquitoes might be tempted to enter.

2. Lavender. About the only insects you see around lavender are bees. They love the flowers, but other bugs stay away.

Lavender has a pleasant scent that comes from the essential oils in the leaves of the plant, but the bugs hate it. Hang some dried lavender in your closet and you won’t have to worry about moths eating your clothes.

The herb is a perennial and is drought resistant once it’s established, a bonus for areas that are watching their water consumption.

3. Lemon grass. Lemon grass can grow up to 4 feet tall, but the best thing about this decorative grass is that it contains citronella, a common natural ingredient in many mosquito repellents.

You’ve probably heard of citronella candles and torches. The plant itself does even better at deterring mosquitoes because it has a stronger smell.

Lemon grass tolerates heat and drought but not frost. So in most areas, it’s best planted in a pot that can be moved indoors in winter.

4. Garlic. This herb has long been regarded as a deterrent to blood-sucking vampires and werewolves, but it really deters buzzing blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Planting garlic around the garden also will ward off other insects and creepy crawlers. Garlic extract sprayed in your garden is harmless to plants, but bugs don’t like that garlic odor.

5. Rosemary. Though you’ll want to plant an herb garden for cooking, rosemary repels flies and mosquitoes.

It also has a pungent scent that drives away other bugs, including cabbage moths. It does well in hot dry weather, and thrives in containers, so you can set it in various places around the garden.

6. Basil. This herb also tastes great in your favorite dishes but doubles as a bug repellent.

Basil’s strong smell keeps mosquitoes away. And if you put a potted basil plant near your picnic table, you won’t have to worry as much about flies either.

7. Catnip. Many cats love catnip, but mosquitoes won’t come near it.

In fact, some studies show that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET, the chemical formally known as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide and found in most commercial insect repellents.

Roll up a few catnip leaves and rub them on your skin. The bugs won’t bother you, but the neighbor’s cat might.

Catnip grows almost anywhere, and it will spread in your garden. So growing it in pots is best.

8. Petunias. These annuals add a bright splash of color to any landscape, but the funnel-shaped blossoms also have a licorice-like scent that repels many insect pests, including aphids, tomato hornworms and squash bugs.

But do keep an eye on these flowers because other crawly garden pests are attracted to petunias, including slugs and caterpillars.

9. Mint. Who doesn’t like the taste of mint?

It’s a beautiful plant that smells and tastes great to people, but ants and mice absolutely hate it. It can spread quickly in the garden and is hard to remove, so you might want to keep it in a pot.

Put some containers of mint around your patio or in your garden, and it will ward off other insects, including mosquitoes.

These are just a few of the many plants that bugs find distasteful. Surrounding yourself and your patio with a few them will keep the bugs away from you, too.

Some of the plants are perennials, which will come back from year to year while others need to replanted annually. You can find all of these plants at most nurseries and garden centers.

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1. Marigolds. The flowers’ aroma not only repels mosquitoes but also squash bugs and tomato worms. enrouteksm, Getty Images/iStockphoto 2. Lavender. The scent of this herb might take you to Provence, France, where fragrant lavender fields bloom from June to August. It’s drought resistant, so it can grow in areas with little rainfall after it’s established. Getty Images/Purestock 3. Lemon grass. This herb can grow to 4 feet tall and contains citronella. Tuomas Lehtinen, Getty Images 4. Garlic. Planting garlic not only deters mosquitoes, but if you believe in another type of blood sucker, such as vampires, you’ll have your own supply of repellent. lzf, Getty Images/iStockphoto 5. Rosemary. Rosemary’s pungent scent drives away flies, mosquitoes, and cabbage moths and does well in hot, dry weather. Muenz, Getty Images/iStockphoto 6. Basil. By growing your own basil, you can keep mosquitoes and flies away from your picnic table — and have a tasty ingredient for your cooking. photosbyjimn, Getty Images/iStockphoto 7. Catnip. Some cats, like Sneed, absolutely adore catnip; mosquitoes don’t. Grow it in pots because it can spread rapidly. Susan Strahosky, Getty Images 8. Petunias. A staple in hanging baskets and your grandmother’s garden, petunias come in many shades of pink, red and purple and have a licorice-like scent that repels aphids, tomato hornworms and squash bugs. Mariia17, Getty Images/iStockphoto 9. Mint. This hearty herb can become your go-to for mint juleps on Derby Day, but ants and mice hate it. Because it spreads quickly, you might want to plant it in pots. Geo-grafika, Getty Images/iStockphoto

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