Gardens and Wildlife

How to keep them separate

Application procedure for smell repellents around gardens.

Wildlife love our home gardens almost as much as we do. Use these tips to keep wildlife out of your garden.


Repellents ward off animals based on taste and smell. Factors that affect the efficiency of repellents include:

1. How hungry the animals are

2. The animals' familiarity with repellents

3. Characteristics of the animal species you are trying to repel

4. The dosage of repellent used

Taste repellents must be applied directly to the crops they are intended to protect. For this reason, taste repellents don't work well on vegetable crops. However, they can protect fruit trees and shrubs from rabbits, deer and rodents.

Smell repllents are better suited for gardens. Place rags soaked with smell repellents in small waterproof containers along the perimeter of your garden. Commercial bone tar- and thiram-based repellents also will repel deer and rabbits if sprayed around the perimeter of plants you wish to protect. There are as many home remedy repellents as there are hungry animals. Human hair, smelly socks, blood meal, bath soap, tankage, liquid manure, and lion dung are just a few. Although these repellents don't always work, many at least double as a fertilizer.


A simple 3-foot high chicken wire fence will keep box turtles from your cantaloupe and rabbits from your greens, provided the fence is tightly secured to the ground. Raccoons can be effectively repelled with a two-strand electric wire fence. Place strands at 5- and 10-inch heights, clear vegetation from the wires, and let the juice flow. After a zap or two the masked bandits will feed elsewhere. This arrangement also will keep other small animals such as woodchucks, skunks, and rabbits out of your garden.

WARNING: Electric fences should NOT be connected directly to a 110 volt power supply.

A single-strand electric fence designed to keep deer from small gardens.

A three-strand offset fence designed to keep deer from larger areas.
A single strand electric fence 30 inches above the ground will keep deer from gardens, flower beds, or small orchards. To assure that deer are aware of the fence before running into it, place flaps of aluminum foil over the wire and smear peanut butter on the underside of the foil. Tape the foil to the wire with duct tape. Deer will smell the peanut butter and receive an electric shock.

The fence isn't a barrier but rather a tool to teach deer where not to go. Wire and posts for a single-strand electric fence cost about 10 cents per linear foot. Larger areas, or those with high deer densities, may require more wires or different designs. A 3-strand offset fence (reported to be 95 percent effective) will cost about 35 cents per linear foot. Of course more elaborate fences are more expensive but are sometimes the only answer to protect high dollar crops. Because there is such a wide variety of fencing materials, chargers, and designs, you should carefully assess your needs before purchasing any materials.

Scare tactics

Birds sometimes raid gardens and fruit crops, and fences won't help in such cases. Since birds have limited taste and olfactory senses, taste and smell repellents won't help either. Yet, scarecrows, colorful balloons, owl decoys, and plastic streamers will keep birds away. Also, mylar and nylon netting is a failsafe method and does not require a large investment.

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