Fencing is usually the go-to method to prevent animals ruining your vegetable garden, flowers, and shrubs. The downside is that it makes your garden private and restricts views.
For anyone living in a rural setting with gorgeous scenery stretching as far as the eye can see, you’ll want to keep animals out of your garden, without a fence or high trees and shrubs that act as a camouflage but restrict your view.
How to Deter Animals Without a Garden Fence or Hedge
1 – Mix Clay Cat Litter with Talcum Powder
Low dust clay cat litter can be sprinkled around soil at the base of your garden plants to prevent unwanted insects from attacking them. This will stop slugs and snails from wrecking the soil, but beyond that, clay cat litter is a good repellant for moles and voles and even groundhogs.
Whenever you spot holes in your garden that’s clearly been dug up by ground tunnelers such as groundhogs, moles and voles, mix some clay cat litter with talcum powder and pour it into their tunnel.
Both cat litter and talcum powder are deterrents to a lot of burrowing pests. By filling the hole, it won’t destroy their underground tunnel network but it will force them elsewhere and away from your property.
It definitely beats trying to flood underground tunnels because contrary to popular belief, moles can swim. They’d just rather not, which is why filling the holes with water is really only effective at catching them because you’ll see them dig their way out of the tunnel when you can then catch the rodent, put in a bucket and release it well away from your garden.
Important: Don’t catch and kill moles because they look similar to pocket gophers, which are listed as an endangered species in some areas.
2 – Install Garden Flood Lights
Garden flood lights are generally used for home security but they can let you take advantage of nature.
Light can repel certain rodents and animals at night, but the disadvantage of that is that your soil’s going to become attractive for insects. So, you’re essentially swapping one problem for another.
The US has forty species of bats, and while most will avoid light altogether, there are certain species (the super-fast flyers) that will take advantage of light with high UV rays – like you see on street lamps – to have themselves some easy prey.
The artificial lighting is bait for insects that some bats will take advantage of, swoop right in and have themselves a feast, eating between four and eight times their body weight.
Depending on the bat population in your area, you might be able to deter larger animals from foraging in your garden by installing flood lights, while attracting insects to feed the bats instead of the insects destroying your plants.
3 – Scatter or Hang Some Unwashed Hair (Human or Pet Hair)
Some gardeners swear by hair because it’s a natural resource and effective at repelling deer, rabbits and snails.
The hair you use can be the loose hair from your hairbrush scattered on the soil, or if you trim your own hair at home, you could also put it into a pair of stockings and hang it from tree branches or place it in shrubs.
Unwashed hair is better as there are certain shampoos that can do the opposite and attract deer, such as anything with a coconut scent would.
If you don’t trim your own hair, there’s no shortage of hair in salons and barbers so just ask your local hairdressers for a bag so you can put it to work in your garden.
4 – Plant Strong Scented Plants
Certain types of plants with a particular scent to them can be used around the border of your garden as an animal repellant or planted between plants.
No plant deters all types of animals so it’s best to know what type of wildlife or problem animals are in your area then use the most suitable plant to suit your local environment.
For vegetable gardens, the most rampant wildlife that will nibble your produce is rabbits. To prevent this, it’s helpful to grow a mixed vegetable and herb garden as rabbits are keen on the veggies but they detest the scents of herbs.
The most effective herbs for keeping rabbits away from vegetables are rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic and sage. Planting these interspersed with your other vegetables can prevent rabbits from eating your crops.
Onion and garlic are also effective at keeping chipmunks out of your yard, while mint, lavender and marigolds do a better job at keeping rodents away.
For keeping stray cats or the annoying cat of the neighborhood away from your plants, Coleus Canina is the plant of choice because it can smell like skunk, but mostly, it has the scent of dog urine.
These plants are ideally used sparingly, and definitely not near your patio area as the downside is that humans can smell the scent too. Dog urine isn’t something you want to smell while trying to enjoy your garden from a patio or bench.
Rue is another garden herb that does a good job at keeping cats, dogs and even the Japanese Beetle out of your garden. That’s because of its toxicity though so it is not recommended in gardens used by kids as it can cause skin rashes and should never be ingested.
If you are going to grow rue, handle them with gloves. Never let the leaves on these plants rub against bare skin as it can cause burns due to the chemicals the plant produces.
You can even prune these into small hedges but a few of these planted sparingly around your garden will keep many an animal away due its pungent aroma. Mix these with Coleus Canina around your garden to prevent humans being affected by an overbearing stench.
Another use for this is to carefully snip some off to use (with care) around the house as a mosquito repellant.
5 – Use Wind Chimes or a Wind Harp
A lot of animals will steer clear of anywhere there’s noise. There’s no need to go to such lengths as buying expensive ultrasonic sound equipment to keep animals away as wind chimes are just as effective.
For those with large garden space that’s rural enough not to be concerned about noise levels affecting you or your neighbors, another option is to make some wind howlers by upcycling plastic bottles.
All you need for this is to cut a slot in the plastic and screw the cap to something solid to hold the bottle upright. A wood plank nailed to a tree should do the trick. Strap a few together in a row and you’ve got yourself a nature’s harp.
When it’s windy, the noise will keep animals away.
Better yet, paint the bottles and make a structure out of other material such as wood or metal to put the bottles on to make a tree like display.
6 – Scatter Some Prickly Stems Around the Perimeter of Your Garden
For ground foragers like racoons, squirrels, cats, dogs, and rabbits, they will avoid walking on certain surfaces. One of the most annoying ones are those that are painful to walk on.
Ever picked berries from a bramble bush and nicked your skin on the prickly stems?
Imagine a row of thorny stems just an inch above ground level and that’s the sort of camouflage that will have animals turn back the way they came instead of trying to cross your garden border.
The only animal that won’t be deterred by prickly plants are deer as they’ll happily munch their way through a Pyracantha hedge plant. All other animals are deterred by the prickly texture of thorns.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.