Spring has sprung here in the Four Corners. Chilly mornings are beginning to give way to warm and sunny afternoons. Local wildlife are waking up from hibernation or returning from a winter spent elsewhere, and many folks are ramping up for the garden season.
As you begin your gardens this year, our team has a few tips to help you keep wildlife from becoming a nuisance by destroying the plants you have worked so hard to cultivate.
A sturdy fence is one of the best ways to keep wildlife out. If you are only dealing with small critters, such as rabbits, raccoons, or skunks, a 2 or 3-foot high structure is all you need. A tight weave, mesh wire material works exceptionally well. Plus, you can bury it a couple of inches below the surface and extend the mesh out parallel with the ground (at least 12in) to prevent digging under.
A single or double-strand hot wire fence can also work as a great deterrent. If you are dealing with larger mammals, such as deer, we usually recommend a combination of mesh wire and electric wire. To prevent deer from jumping over, you will want your garden fence to be at least 7 feet high.
Deer Resistant Plants
If your gardening style focuses more on aesthetics, rather than growing food for your table, you may not be interested in installing a fence at all. In this case, making your garden as unappealing as possible may be the way to go. How do I make my garden unappealing, you ask? With deer-resistant plants.
Now, if you have ever purchased a pair of “water-resistant” boots, then you have probably learned that resistant does not mean foolproof. Deer-resistant plants are simply less appealing to the large ungulates than other varieties. Some are far less appealing than others.
If you are a sucker for succulents and prickly cacti, then you need not worry about your garden becoming a deer buffet. Other resistant plant varieties include foxgloves, poppies, and daffodils – which are toxic to deer and, therefore, avoided. Sages, lavender, peonies, lilac, and black-eyed susan are also unappealing to deer but make exceptionally attractive landscaping.
You can find a broad range of these deer-resistant plants at local nurseries and greenhouses.
The Birds and the Bees
Apart from flowering plants, many folks enjoy adding bird feeders to their gardens. If you are a bird enthusiast, this can be a wonderful feature. However, bird feeders may also draw unwanted pests, such as squirrels. Squirrels are attracted to the seeds and, as excellent climbers, they can easily reach most feeders.
If these critters learn that your bird feeder is a regular food source, they will most likely take up residence near your home or, perhaps, even in your home. To prevent attracting squirrels to your bird feeder, you will need to make it impossible for them to climb. A shepherd’s hook hanger is the perfect device for the job.
Birdseed can also attract other mammals that can quickly become a nuisance if they decide to hang around. This could include mice, skunks, or raccoons. These animals will often come for the birdseed that falls to the ground, so be sure to keep the area around your bird feeder as clean as possible.
Alternatively, if a bird feeder becomes too much of a headache, starting a pollinator garden can very nearly scratch the same itch. Plants such as coneflower, butterfly bush, marigolds, lavender, and a plethora of others are perfect for attracting bumblebees and butterflies. Hummingbirds are also pollinators and are drawn to brightly colored flowers like the petunia, columbine, or bleeding heart.
Pollinator gardens have more benefits than just being pretty to look at, as well. By providing a safe, pesticide-free environment, you are helping save our local bees.
Go Forth and Garden
In closing, we hope these few tips help you cultivate beautiful gardens while minimizing conflicts with local wildlife. As aforementioned, these solutions are not always foolproof, but they can make a huge difference.