This question’s answer depends upon if you’re protecting the top of your raised garden from common pests and grazers or the bottom from burrowers. If you’re like me, you don’t want to use anything that could harm your plants or render them unusable. You also would prefer not to find dead critters on your lawn. That being said, I usually employ several layers of protection.
To protect your garden from common pests without using chemical warfare, you should consider using pets and plants against them. For other pests simply incorporate natural barriers, fences, hardware fabric, or natural sprays that make pests think twice before taking a nibble.
Can I Use Plants to Prevent Animals from Harming My Raised Garden Beds?
Plants are the first defenses that I learned to use. I plant rosemary, garlic, chives, and oregano all around the garden area. Deer and rabbits hate these things. And since they can also be used in the kitchen, I love them!
Also, I usually plant bloomers that deter deer as well – like iris and marigold. Peppers are also a dual-purpose plant. Because of the capsaicin in the peppers, most animals that try it will only try it once, and after that, the plant becomes a deterrent. In my opinion, beneficial plants are a must for every garden.
Do Pets Help Protect Your Gardens?
I also have a dog that enjoys the backyard. We’ve taught her to do her business near the back fenceline, which deters wild animals from coming too close. We’ve had to have a funeral for one squirrel in the past. For the most part, just the urine and feces of a predatory animal will keep prey animals (mostly your grazers and nibblers) away. If you don’t have a pet, you can purchase predator urine for the same purposes.
How Can I Stop Burrowing Animals from Harming My Raised Bed Garden?
Hardware fabric is something that I had never heard of – and it was suggested to a friend of mine who has issues with burrowing rodents. She wants to build raised garden beds in her back yard, and a local gardener told her to line the bottom with hardware fabric.
Because the fabric is woven with metal wires, nothing can chew through it, but for some reason, it doesn’t stop earthworms nor does it do so well with keeping weeds from growing around the weave. For that reason, you should consider using this material on the bottom of your planters along with something else that’s more effective against weeds.
If you’re going to put up fencing anyway, remember to take a bit more time and dig a 3inch trench for it. Get fencing that has smaller holes in the wire to catch as many burrowers as possible. Because if it’s buried down at least 3 inches beneath the surface, most burrowers will hit it and not bother your plants.
Can I Stop Grazing Animals from Harming My Raised Bed Garden?
Deer. Rabbits. Groundhogs. Yes, they’re cute. Yes, they will strip your garden. For these pesky pests, you’ll be best helped by putting up a fence. I have a fenced-in backyard, but that’s not going to stop everything. I have a large dog, but again, that’s not going to stop everything. So, for rabbits, you need to be sure and surround your beds with a fence that is at least 3 feet high.
Against some grazers, there may need to be a barrier in place, even above this. You can get netting or chicken wire to make tops to your fenced-in garden space if you need. In some places here in North Carolina, we see gardens in front and side yards that look almost like big cages, to limit access to deer and squirrels among others.
For raised bed gardens, you can easily fashion a door-like frame for smaller beds. Using hinges, it can be attached to one side, and then you can use long wooden shims to create arches from one side of the frame to the other, like framing for a greenhouse in miniature. Then, you can tack chicken wire to the frame to act as a barrier to grazers.
As I mentioned before, you can always use plants as deterrents, placing these strategically around your yard and garden to keep nibblers away. But I also found a great recipe for Cayenne Pepper Tea that might just be one of the best natural remedies I’ve seen. I just need to try it out myself to be sure it works. I know spreading cayenne pepper powder in a porch flower bed worked against squirrels.
Cayenne Pepper Tea Spray
What you will need:
- 4 cayenne peppers
- glass lidded container (mason jar?)
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- spray bottle
- 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cut the cayenne peppers lengthwise and get rid of the green stems. Chop the peppers, seeds included then Place peppers in the container. Add hot water & white vinegar and seal the lid tightly and let it sit for four days.
Strain the liquid into a bowl using a funnel, pour the liquid into the spray bottle. Add dishwashing liquid & vegetable oil. Shake the bottle, then spray on soil, leaves, planters, or bird feeders.
How Do I Stop Slugs from Invading My Vegetables?
Just remember that a slug population can be good for your composting. Any waste leaves will be eaten by slugs and like an earthworm, the nutrients left behind are beneficial to the soil. So, maybe don’t destroy all slugs, even if you’re mad at them. Just protect the plants that need protecting.
Huw Richards is one of my favorite farmers to follow on YouTube, and one of his free hacks for slugs is called a bramble barrier. This is especially good for keeping slugs off of seedlings. Cut brambles (any thorny-stemmed bush) in 30 cm (1 foot) lengths and surround the plants you want to protect with them.
You can purchase diatomaceous earth from your local stores and use it around the plants you want to protect as well. It’s actually a type of ground-up fossilized diatoms and is very abrasive to the slug as well as other insects. It’s also naturally occurring and so environmentally safe. Though most sources I researched agree that DE is the most effective, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, sand, and wood ash can deter them as well.
Beer traps are another tool of the trade. Cut out the bottom of an old cup and place it in the soil so that the edge is soil level. Fill it with beer. The slugs are attracted to the scent of the yeast in the beer. Plop! The slug falls in and drowns. But don’t use this unless you have a horrible bunch of slugs, because these traps can take out the good insects, too.
I’ve covered the pests that are most well known in our area, but if you have different kinds of pests, there are always resources out there available. Most of them are free. You can always ask about more deterrents for local pests at your local feed stores, co-ops, and extension service offices.
If you are looking for a solution to small insect pests in your garden then you may want to read my article on what garden lizards eat.