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Homesteading tips: Simple ways to keep animals out of your home garden
By Zoey Sky // Oct 14, 2021

A home garden requires a lot of patience, time and effort. This is why you need to make sure your garden is free from pests and animals that can easily destroy all of your hard work. (h/t to HomesteadSurvivalSite.com)


How to keep your garden animal-free

You spend a lot of time caring for your crops so you have access to fresh, organic fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard. Making sure your garden is free from animal pests ensures that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor without any pesky critters ruining all your efforts.

Using raised beds or placing netting or chicken wire around plants can help discourage some animals, but the most effective method to keep your garden animal-free is to set up a sturdy fence. If you have animals that can jump high near your homestead, build a fence that's at least seven feet high to keep them out.

You also need to dig a barrier that's at least one foot underground when dealing with groundhogs, moles and other hungry diggers.

Below are 13 methods you can use to try to keep different animal pests out of your home garden. You don't need to break the bank for most of the suggestions below since you may already have some of them in your pantry, like coffee grounds or vinegar.

Keep your garden clean

Small animals like rabbits and groundhogs are reluctant to leave their homes and explore open spaces.

If you're not sure what's targeting your plants, the culprit may be rabbits if:

  • You see delicately nibbled leaves and stems, especially on young or newly emerging plants.
  • There is tree bark chewed near ground level, specifically on saplings, shrubs and fruit trees.
  • You find small round rabbit droppings.

Get rid of any overgrown shrubbery, brush and woodpiles near your garden to make the area less inviting to groundhogs or rabbits.

Create noise and movement to scare animals away

Some animals can be frightened away by loud noises and sudden movements. Try tying metal pie pans to stakes placed all over your garden to get rid of animals eating your crops.

Alternatively, you can try other methods like garden spinners or pinwheels. If you have a spare radio, leave it in the garden and let it play music all night at a soft enough volume to annoy the animals but not enough to disturb your family or your neighbors.

Get rid of food for your pets or livestock

If you feed your pets or livestock outside, bring their food bowls inside at night so opossums, raccoons and skunks won't have access to more food. If you have a compost bin, secure it with a tight-fitting lid to keep away animal pests.

Use hand scented soap

If your garden is targeted by deer, you can keep them away with an unusual item: scented soap. Some gardeners keep deer away by hanging cheesecloth or nylon bags full of strongly-scented soap on stakes all over their gardens.

Use as much soap as you can spare, but avoid soaps that contain coconut oil, which can attract the deer.

Use bloodmeal

Bloodmeal or the powdered blood salvaged from cattle slaughterhouses can also help keep some animals away from your garden.

To use bloodmeal, just sprinkle a thin line around the perimeter of your garden. Note that it's only effective when dry so you can also fill small containers with the powder and place them near plants instead.

Bloodmeal is rich in nitrogen and if you use too much, it can burn or damage plants. Check the manufacturer's instructions and don't use too much bloodmeal in your garden.

Most animals dislike the smell of bloodmeal and they will avoid your garden because of it.

Spread out spent coffee grounds

Like bloodmeal, coffee grounds are full of nitrogen that's good for your soil.

Aside from boosting the acidity level of garden soil, coffee grounds can also help deter animals. Cats hate the smell of coffee grounds and using some will stop felines from using your garden as their litter box. Deer and slugs also hate the smell of coffee grounds.

Use human hair

If you think deer, rabbits or rodents are targeting your crops, using human hair can keep them out of your home garden.

First, gather all of the hair that gets stuck in your hairbrush. This method works because unwashed human hair can repel deer, rabbits and rodents.

Note that human hair will lose its scent after two weeks so you'll need to replace it. If this trick works for you, visit your local barbershop or hair salon and ask them for the hair they sweep from their floors. If they get curious, just tell them you're using it to keep animal pests away from your garden.

Make hot pepper spray

Another method to try is sprinkling hot pepper flakes around the base of your plants.

For something more precise, make hot pepper spray to deter animal pests. Mix one ounce of hot pepper sauce, four drops of natural soap and one cup of aromatic leaves like marigold leaves. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it around the base of your plants. (Related: How to keep pests out of your survival garden.)

Use vinegar

Vinegar has a strong smell and it can keep out several animal pests. Get some vinegar from your kitchen and soak empty corn cobs in the liquid for at least 10 minutes.

Place the vinegar-soaked corn cobs around your garden. Repeat this at least every two weeks or after rainfall for best results.

Grow strong-smelling plants

Some perennial herbs like artemisia, tansy and yarrow can deter animals if you grow them in your garden.

You can also plant culinary herbs like chives, dill, mint, oregano, tarragon and thyme to keep animals away. If you have rabbits digging around in your garden, plant some marigolds.

Grow these aromatic plants along the borders of your beds and in strategic places throughout your garden.

Use a bait and switch approach

If most of the tricks on this list don't work, try a bait and switch method. Lure animal pests away from your prized crops by growing tasty alternatives in new spots.

To get rid of rabbits, lure them away by planting clover and dandelions away from your vegetables.

Try predator urine

Urine is a natural repellent and you can buy predator urine at garden supply stores or online at specialty stores. Animals will avoid areas that smell like their predators so look for coyote, fox or mountain lion urine.

Install motion detector sprinklers

Water is another non-lethal option that you should try if you want to get rid of animal pests in your garden without hurting them.

Scarecrow sprinklers or deer sprinklers will spray cold water when animals trigger its battery-operated motion detectors. A scarecrow sprinkler has infrared sensors that can detect animal heat and movement within 60 feet.

Deer sprinklers come on a metal spike so you can easily place it in your garden. These items only use about two cups of water per spray.

Some methods are more effective against certain animals so try a couple and stick with what works best for you. Some animals like deer and raccoons will eventually get used to certain deterrents so switch things up every so often.

Keep your home garden clean, sprinkle bloodmeal, coffee grounds or scented soap, or grow mint or oregano to keep animal pests away from your prized fruits and vegetables.

Sources include:




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