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Protect your garden from critters

Becky Garber
Landscape Logic
Raccoon in garden
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Just like Mr. McGregor, many gardeners are plagued with the likes of Peter Rabbit and other critters who are intent on feasting on their ripening gardens.

As the corn and tomatoes begin to ripen, wildlife starts to take an interest in the harvest. Squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and other wildlife love corn on the cob, pumpkins and cucumbers as much as humans do. All too often, gardeners who have waited for the corn to reach its prime go out to pick it and find that a raccoon or skunk has stripped the stalks clean. It’s a gardener’s worst nightmare — but there are steps you can take to protect your harvest.

Some projects take a little more effort than others. But if you’ve been growing corn all season and lose it overnight to wildlife, it might be worth the effort to safeguard the rest of your veggies.

Deterring critters

Rabbits can be deterred by building raised beds for edibles at heights higher than rabbits can jump, which is about 2 feet for a mature rabbit.

Another deterrent you can put in place right away is to create a fence-like enclosure around edibles that they cannot see through and that’s about two feet high — again, higher than the rabbits can jump. If you make it difficult for rabbits to get into the garden, they are more likely to forage elsewhere.

Bird netting is another relatively easy and cost-effective solution that can be used to deter many forms of wildlife. This is a product available in most garden centers. It can protect your harvest not only from birds, but can keep out other critters. It can be draped over plants or used with the remesh product described below.

Remesh is a product that gardeners are starting to adapt and re-purpose from the concrete and tile industry. It is made of reasonably sturdy metal in a wire grid. The square spaces within the grid being several inches long and wide make it excellent spacing to create tomato cages or for growing cucumbers, squash, beans and even small melons. The metal is durable and very long lasting, which makes it a cost effective investment. It is available in rolls or flat sheets and it can be found in big box stores and hardware stores. Remesh can also be used to protect plants from wildlife. Plants can be circled with the remesh and then covered with bird netting. This method can help deter birds, skunks, squirrels and rabbits.

Raccoons being highly intelligent animals are more difficult to thwart. To provide increased protection for corn or other plants, the barrier needs to have a slick surface that raccoons can’t hold onto or climb. Remesh that is wrapped with metal or plastic sheeting will be a better deterrent than netting because it provides that slick surface.

If you make it difficult for critters to get to your harvest, they are more likely to follow a path of less resistance and go somewhere else to get what they want.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.


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