Dealing with animal pests in the garden

Cats, squirrels, rabbits and muntjacs are just a few of the uninvited visitors who can gorge on your plants and ruin your crops. Take a look at ways to keep them at bay.

 
 
 
  • Cat in a garden
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 20 June 2013, 15:09 BST

    There are a number of battery-operated deterrents on the market which, when switched on, pick up movement with an infra-red detector and then emit ultrasonic, high-pitched frequencies that reputedly scare off the culprits. They are not audible to humans and the usual range is about 10m (33ft) over an arc of 70 degrees.

    Another solution is to put down citrus peelings or lemon scent where the cats are causing the damage, or prickly prunings around their favourite plants.

    They are less likely to use your garden as a litter tray if they have no access to bare soil - especially dry, loose soil. If you have a gravelled area, try replacing it with larger stone chippings or pebbles.

    Unwanted CDs can be threaded on twine with knots in between to keep them apart. String these across flower beds or hang from trees, and the light reflections will deter cats.

    Try growing the annual Coleus Canina, labelled as the 'Scaredy Cat Plant', a pretty blue-flowered annual which smells foul to cats. It's widely available online.

     
     
     

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  • A fluffy bunny rabbit in the garden
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 20 June 2013, 15:09 BST

    These fast-breeding mammals can cause massive damage to vegetables and flowers and are a particular problem in rural areas. The only real defence is a rabbit-proof fence buried around 45cm (18in) into the soil and about 1m (3ft) high.

    You could also try growing plants which rabbits don't like, such as very aromatic plants, plants that ooze caustic milky sap, prickly plants, plants with spines or plants with tough leathery leaves. These include astilbe, berberis, agapanthus, nicotiana, hydrangea, geranium, euphorbia, hypericum, helenium, rudbeckia and phormium, but there are many more.

    Be warned, though, if they are really hungry, rabbits will eat anything!

     
     
     

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  • A squirrel eating nuts
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 20 June 2013, 15:09 BST

    The scourge of bird-lovers nationwide, squirrels will steal bird food from any receptacle it can get to, but there are now a lot of squirrel-proof feeders on the market to deter them.

    They can also damage plants, as they eat bulbs, shoot tips and flower buds, as well as stripping the bark from trees.

    The only really effective protection is to secure net-covered cages for groups of plants and individual tree guards to stop them stripping the bark.

     
     
     

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  • A fox in the garden
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 20 June 2013, 15:09 BST

    They can dig up clumps of your lawn, flower beds and vegetable plots, but alas there's not much you can do about foxes. Avoid using fertilisers such as blood, fish and bone, which will attract them to the smell.

    Go to your local zoo and speak to the keepers about getting some lion urine, which apparently foxes hate because of the smell. Sprinkle it over the entrance to and exit from their run and you may deter them.

    Aside from that the only way forward is an electric fence.

     
     
     

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  • A muntjac deer in the garden
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 20 June 2013, 15:09 BST

    These nuisance deer, natives of southeast Asia, strip rose bushes of buds, chew their way through shrubs and perennials and are territorial, so tend to return.

    Aside from putting a 6ft fence around your garden, you could try growing plants they're not so keen on, including camellia, cistus, hellebore, hosta, hydrangea, lavender, poppies and sedum.

    Be warned, they do like geraniums, sweet Williams,

    clematis and roses, but if they're starving they'll eat anything.

    If you want to preserve the balance of nature, you could grow alternative food for the deer, allowing an area at the end of your garden to be devoted to brambles, rowan, dandelion, campion and yarrow. Hopefully the deer will prefer these to your favourite roses.

     
     
     

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