Common Garden Critters: Cats, Squirrels, Raccoons & More
Chances are, if you have planted a garden, you have dealt with garden critters. There are a multitude of different animals that would just love to have a go at your veggies. It can be a very frustrating situation considering the hard work it takes to plan and execute a successful garden. Most of us are not putting in all that effort just to create a buffet for the local wildlife. Fortunately, it is a manageable situation as long as you can identify what type of animal you’re dealing with.
Are All Garden Animals Bad for My Garden?
Believe it or not, some critters are actually beneficial to your garden. Small animals like frogs, snakes and lizards are great to have around because they will not damage your garden and will actively reduce the population of harmful insects that can damage plants. Birds can be good to have around for much the same reason, unless you have just scattered shallow seeds and they decide to make a meal out of them.
But of course, there are a handful of garden animals that are commonly a nuisance to your green thumb:
All of these animals have the potential to destroy a healthy garden. They will eat anything from roots to stems, foliage and fruits. But there are ways to combat their destruction, and the first thing you need to do is figure out who is visiting when you’re not around.
Identifying Which Garden Critters are Visiting Your Garden
If you haven’t seen the animals that are invading your space (and given their sneaky nature, you probably haven’t), there are some clues that will help determine who the furry culprit is.
Sometimes you can tell by what they are eating. If a lot of your low-lying veggies and greens are chewed down to the stem, you can bet that you have a hungry rabbit or two helping themselves. And if it’s your tulips, hostas or rhododendrons that are targeted, you can count on squirrels.
Deer and raccoons will eat almost anything, so it can be a little more difficult to identify them. The easiest way is to simply look for the signs. The best clues to pick out are prints in the dirt and droppings. Both raccoons and deer have very identifiable prints, and it is also not difficult to differentiate their droppings.
And when it comes to cats, they will occasionally eat certain plants. But they are more of a nuisance for keeping away important pollinators like hummingbirds, digging holes and marking their territory.
Pest Control: How to Protect Your Garden from Animals
When it comes to the best way to protect your garden from animals, there are a few methods you can try that will certainly help.
The old tried-and-true method of simply scaring away garden critters is actually quite effective. Setting up a scarecrow or installing motion-activated sprinklers are great deterrents.
Creating a barrier between your plants and the animals is also a great method. Fences, raised beds and trunk wraps work well for this.
And if you are really nervous about putting in all of the effort just to deal with pests, you can learn how to grow healthy plants inside, especially delicate starts for your garden.