How to Keep Animals Out of the Garden Naturally

If animals are digging up your vegetables, munching on leaves, and making a mess out of your garden, all is not lost! Here are a few natural ways to keep animals out of the garden without harming them.

squirrel eating

Before I get started on all the ways to keep animals out of the garden, I want to put in a good word for them. We’re part of a much bigger ecosystem. We share our immediate landscape with all kinds of animals and need to ensure we’re making wildlife-friendly spaces in our gardens and cities.

But I understand that animals can sometimes be a nuisance when they eat up absolutely everything or make a mess. You can keep animals out of certain garden areas or away with these natural and completely human approaches.

skunk in grass

In this post, we will cover…

How Do I Keep Animals Out of My Garden Without a Fence

Let’s be honest, even if you have a fence, it’s probably not doing much to keep out animals like cats, raccoons, rats, mice, and birds. Here are a few ways you can try to animal-proof your garden.

mouse in garden
Photo by Debbie Brooks Wolfe

1. Find the Source of the Problem

Ask yourself, why do these animals love my garden so much? See if there’s anything you remove that may keep these animals away.

In reality, you probably want to keep most of your garden and plants! In that case, keep your garden as clean as possible. Keep garbage and compost secure. Clean up fallen fruits and seeds. Clear up any clear nesting spots.

In reality, some animals may get some of your harvest and you may just have to plant more to make up for it.

For instance, I had squirrels eating some of the bulbs I had just planted for my stinzen planting. I knew they would eat some, so I saved some extra to replace the eaten bulbs!

squirrel on pathway

2. Cover the Soil

Many animals don’t like walking on not-so-nice surfaces. You can cover your exposed soil in garden beds with pokey materials like chicken wire, short and sharp twigs, thick mulch, egg shells, uneven river rocks, and bamboo skewers.

sheet mulching

3. Water

Most animals don’t like wet surfaces. If you notice there’s a certain part of the day when animals pay an unwelcome visit, set up your irrigation to go off at that moment.

You can also look into motion-activated sprinklers, just keep water shortages in mind and how often they go off. If you catch them in your garden, you can also give them a light spray from far away.

watering the garden to keep animals out

4. Use Pest Resistant Structures

Wired cloches are great if you want to protect a few special plants. Likewise, you can create your own protective structures using chicken wire and stakes. Garden fabric can also make a plant tent to cover a larger section of plants you want to keep safe.

Baffles can be placed above your bird feeders to keep squirrels off your bird feeders.

5. Try Raised Beds

If ground-dwelling animals (like rabbits) or pests (like slugs) are a problem, it may help to elevate your plants into a raised garden bed. This puts your plants out of reach and also makes gardening a little bit easier on the back and knees!

Vertical garden with three stacked raised beds

6. Get a Cat!

I got my cat, Magic, to help with our pest problem. Living in the city, we have plenty of rats that would come and chew more than their share of vegetables in my garden. Ever since we got Magic, there has been no sign of rats!

A cat can help to keep away squirrels, mice, rats, birds, and other neighbourhood cats. Now, he’s a true family member, and I love his company while puttering in the garden.

cat in the garden

What Smell Keeps Animals Out of the Garden?

Many animals have a stronger sense of smell than us and won’t like certain strong scents. Here are just a few common ones:

One of the best ways to utilize these scents is by making a homemade spray to keep animals out of the garden. You can find an easy repellent recipe here.

how to keep animals out of the garden with a natural spray

Will Vinegar Keep Animals Away?

Many animals don’t like the smell of vinegar, including squirrels, raccoons, foxes, cats, and rabbits. However, vinegar can be very harsh on the garden. It can damage any plants and grass it touches. Note this if you choose to spray dilute vinegar as a repellent.

Another way to use vinegar is to soak rags in vinegar and then hang it around the affected areas of your garden.  

Give these methods a try and see how they work. You may be pleasantly surprised!

raccoon on rock surrounded by flowers


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