GARDENING experts have warned homeowners and community garden users of the top enemies that are threatening your garden.
While the list of the “six most unwanted” features a number of cute animals, they can be detrimental to your gardening efforts.
Elisabeth Ginsburg from Fafard, a horticultural business providing potting mixes, peat moss, and amendments for growers and gardeners across the eastern United States, has shared vital advice.
Ginsburg identified the “worst enemies of horticulture” and explained how gardeners can manage and avoid them.
While the list of six enemies may vary slightly due to geographical location, the top animal is an enemy to all gardens.
Deers are incredibly harmful to horticulture according to Ginsburg who called them “four-legged eating machines.”
While they are incredibly sweet-looking animals, their appetite for plants will see them “mow down everything from your hostas to tulips, winter trees, and shrubs,” the gardening expert said.
She added that most of the produce in your vegetable patch will also be snaffled.
The issue with keeping deer away is that due to their varying sizes, they can be costly to keep out with high fencing surrounding their desired food.
Ginsburg warned that for deer, the barrier has to be at least eight feet tall to stop them from jumping over it.
As well as the expense of metal barriers which are the most effective, they can also be an eyesore in what should be a calming and natural environment.
The gardening expert suggested that “tall, polypropylene mesh fencing is less obtrusive and expensive, but it is also less durable than metal options.”
As a further deterrent, she suggested electrified deer fencing which does not have to be as tall but can cause issues in busy areas where there are pets and or children.
Ginsburg also suggested “invisible” fencing which “works via special electrified posts that can also be baited with favorite deer foods.”
She added: “Deer that approach the invisible fences get a mild shock that acts as a deterrent.”
Next on the gardener’s list are groundhogs which can make the most of your vegetable gardens and fruit patches.
Ginsburg also noted that as the adorably round creatures live in large burrows, these can also be a nuisance for gardens and yards.
Meanwhile, rabbits can “undo plantings in the blink of an eye” and will happily nibble away at flowers and vegetables.
Ginsburg suggests groundhog barriers that have a 30-inch underground section to deter burrowing.
The expert added a handy tip: “Bending the bottom and top 6 inches of chicken wire at a 90-degree angle projecting outward from the vertical portion of the fence will likely convince voracious groundhogs to look elsewhere for dinner.”
Meanwhile, for rabbits, she suggests a low, electrified fence with wires two or four inches above the ground or a similar chicken-wire barrier to the one for groundhogs.
At number four on the list are Voles which will use mole tunnels to nibble at the roots of plants.
They will decimate tulip bulbs and root crops such as beets, radishes, and carrots.
Raccoons are up next as the fifth enemy of your garden as they eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Finally, squirrels are the last enemies on the list as they eat fruit and seed heads.
According to Ginsburg, these bushy-tailed animals will do their worst during dry weather and in fall when they begin storing food for the winter.
Ginsburg said: “Squirrels make distinctive messes in gardens, digging indiscriminately, uprooting plants, and stealing ripe vegetables.
“If the garden area is relatively small, enclose it in a secure cage made of chicken wire, hardware cloth, and/or bird netting.”
While she noted that this strategy could also help deter raccoons, Ginsburg warned that “the furry bandits are both smarter and more dexterous than squirrels.”
“Any cage arrangement designed to keep hungry raccoons away from your tomatoes and zucchinis should be well secured and sturdy,” she said.
If barriers are too expensive or obtrusive, another option is to turn to repellents.
By spraying your plants with a repellant animals will be deterred however, they can become used to the changed taste so Ginsburg advises you to change up your product regularly.
She added that extra caution should be taken when choosing a repellant to spray on edible crops that are intended to be eaten.
For gardeners who accept that these animals will be present in their yard or garden, Ginsburg suggests using a combination of the above strategies as well as planting resistant plants.
She recommends choosing a section to plant your vulnerable crops and surrounding this with a barrier while using the rest of the space for plants that most animals dislike such as foxgloves, daffodils, and lavender.
Ginsburg promotes unharmful and non-lethal strategies and states: “A yard and garden can be protected without becoming unduly harmful to the environment.”