Confession: I never knew how many animals roamed the night until I moved into a house with a yard that was a veritable buffet for said animals.
Raccoons, opossums, skunks, even coyotes and foxes — all of them are common sightings in my neighborhood and a real problem for residents with edible gardens, nicely mulched landscapes, or small cats and dogs.
As natural scavengers, they emerge after dark (or even in daylight, on the rare occasion) and begin their nightly hunt for food from trash cans, back porches, garages, and garden beds.
The latter is my biggest gripe, as I’ll frequently wake up to holes all over my yard — lots and lots of holes, some of them several inches deep and over a foot in diameter, the work of relentless raccoons (or opossums or skunks?) in search of grubs in the dirt. It’s one thing for them to dig up the mulch in the paths, but quite another when they land in a garden bed and dig up newly sown seeds or newly transplanted seedlings. Gah! I feel like my heart’s been ripped out when that happens.
A nocturnal critter can destroy an entire garden overnight, and it’s a losing battle I wage every season. Until this season.
To date, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book to repel raccoons: black pepper, hot pepper, Critter Ridder, predator urine, motion-activated sprinklers, bright lights, Havahart traps. These city raccoons don’t care. I think they even sneer at all our tactics as they toss aside our seedlings and rake out all the mulch with their claws.
The only thing that’s worked is installing fencing around our beds, and for a while, that solved our woes. But our hodgepodge of fencing was far from perfect: short, flimsy, worn out, ripped apart (yes, from raccoons), and barely making it to the next season.
I didn’t want to build a custom fence, but I needed a better-quality and more reliable solution that I wouldn’t have to keep repairing or replacing. When I found this wire border fence from Gardener’s Supply Company, I decided to give it a shot and the company sent it over for review.
I went with the 26-inch fence, which is high enough to deter any animal from digging along the edges, but not so high that I couldn’t comfortably harvest from the bed. It’s sturdy, low-maintenance, and easy to erect, and I especially like how it blends in with the landscape. (The OCD in me wants to Goo Gone all the stickers on the stakes, but I abandoned the idea when I realized we had over two dozen of them. Maybe that’ll be an end-of-season project.)
So far, I’m really digging it. (Pun intended.) We secured the ends with plant clips so we could easily remove the fencing when needed (for seed-sowing or transplanting), and installed it as a perimeter on our raised beds as well as around individual plants that we needed to protect.
Since I’m always looking for multipurpose solutions that make life easier, I also ordered this mesh pest control pop-up and wonder why I didn’t look for it sooner. It’s a game-changer in the garden.
Birds are our most troublesome visitors during the day, as they’ll chow down an entire bed of lettuce seedlings after we put them out. We considered adding netting, but this season, we simply placed the pop-up over our bed. It took less than 60 seconds to “install.” It lets in all the sun and rain our seedlings need while protecting them on all sides.
We recently moved the pop-up to a different bed to protect our brassica seedlings. It’s leaps and bounds better than the floating row covers I’ve used in the past to keep cabbage white butterflies (and their voracious green caterpillars) off our crops, and the zippered entries on both sides make it easy to access the plants for fertilizing or harvesting.
We went with the 4×8 pop-up which fits neatly over most of our standard raised beds, but I wish they gave a little more wiggle room on the dimensions for hand-built beds that may not be exact. The pop-up provides an extra 3 inches overall, but I would’ve liked about 6 inches of extra width and length for more versatility. Nonetheless, we’ve used this on a few of our 4×8 beds without issue and I like the fact that it can be folded flat and stored for the next use.
The pop-up did come with small metal stakes to secure it to the ground, but since we had some very heavy storms last month, we tied it off to full-height bamboo stakes to make sure it wouldn’t blow away. After a particularly gusty day with banana leaves flying all over, we checked on the pop-up and it was still as good as new. It’s so useful that we may add a couple more to our garden to keep the critters, caterpillars, and birds at bay.
For off-the-shelf fencing solutions, these are my favorites right now! Do you have any other tried and true methods for controlling critters?
Gardener’s Supply Company provided the products mentioned in this post for review, but all thoughts and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Garden Betty.