MELINDA’S GARDEN: Protect your Winter Landscape from Hungry Wildlife By MELINDA MYERS

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<<< Photo of Melinda Myers by and courtesy of Mark Avery.

There’s no
doubt that managing critters in the landscape can be a challenge especially as
food supplies start to dwindle. If you are battling with rabbits, deer,
groundhogs or other wildlife, don't let down your guard as the growing season
begins to wind down.

MYERS-101013-Fencing for animal protectionFencing, when installed properly, can be an effective tool in protecting gardens against animal damage. Photo by Melinda Myers and courtesy of Melinda Myers, LLC.>>>

Start before
they get into the habit of dining on your landscape. It is easier to keep them
away than break the dining habit.

them out.
Fencing is the
best defense against most wildlife.  A four feet tall fence around a small
will keep out rabbits.  Secure the bottom tight to the ground or
bury it several inches to prevent rabbits and voles from crawling
underneath.  Or fold the bottom of the fence outward, making sure it’s tight
to the ground. Animals tend not to crawl under when the bottom skirt faces away
from the garden.

Go deeper,
at least 12 to 18 inches, if you are trying to discourage woodchucks. And make
sure the gate is secure. Many hungry animals have found their way into the
garden through openings around and under the gate.

A five foot
fence around small garden areas can help safeguard your plantings against
hungry deer. Some gardeners report success surrounding their garden with
fishing line mounted on posts at one and three foot heights.

Break out
the repellents.
and commercial repellents can be used.  Apply before the animals start
feeding and reapply as directed. Consider using a natural product like
Messina’s Animal Stopper ( It is made of herbs, safe
to use and smells good.

Scare ‘em
. Blow up owls,
clanging pans, rubber snakes, slivers of deodorant soap, handfuls of human hair
and noise makers are scare tactics that have been used by gardeners for years.
Consider your environment when selecting a tactic. Urban animals are used to
the sound and smell of people.  Alternate scare tactics for more effective
control.  The animals won't be afraid of a snake that hasn't moved in

. Use a mix of
fencing, scare tactics and repellents.  Keep monitoring for damage. If
there are enough animals and they are hungry, they will eat just about

forget about nature.
Welcome hawks and fox into your landscape. Using less pesticides and tolerating
some critters, their food source, will encourage them to visit your yard. These
natural pest controllers help keep the garden-munching critters under control.

And most
importantly, don't give up.  A bit of persistence, variety and
adaptability is the key to success.  Investing some time now will not only
deter existing critters from dining in your landscape, but will also reduce the
risk of animals moving in next season.

expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30
years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books,
including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses
“How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s
Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for "Birds & Blooms" magazine. Myers’ web site,, offers gardening videos and tips. 

eHeziMELINDA’S GARDEN: Protect your Winter Landscape from Hungry Wildlife By MELINDA MYERS

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