Defensive Gardening: How to Ward Off Garden Predators

A gardener’s worst nightmare is to lose his plants to wild animals. Deer, rabbits, gophers and other animals often stumble upon gardens and devour their contents. Let’s take a look at ways that home gardeners can prevent predators from munching away at their summer gardens.




The best way to protect your garden is to build a fence around it. However, not all fences were made for keeping all animals out. If you are struggling with larger animals like deer, a tall fence is in order. Some professionals recommend it should be at least 7 feet in height so that deer can’t clear the fence on a leap. For smaller pests like rabbits, or gophers, use a roll of wire mesh material and place it around the perimeter of your garden. Dig at least 8 inches into the ground and bury the bottom of the fence so that animals can’t dig their way under it. Get a good fence for your garden from Home Depot or a specialist like Elrod Fence Company to use this garden defense.



A live trap (one that preserves the life of the animal) will be effective in catching predators that want to eat your food. Set a trap with the leaves of the plants that predators have been eating. Check the trap multiple times per day and always release the animals that are caught. Set them free far away from your garden so that they don’t venture back. Consult with the local Humane Society to identify a location that the animals won’t have a difficult time adjusting to.


A thorny, prickly plant can protect a garden. These plants can compliment to a fence and will ward off many animals who already try to avoid this vegetation as it occurs in nature. Some examples include cardoons, echinops and eryngiums. These kinds of plants are a little less mainstream, so you may have to check out a special plant nursery to obtain them.

Raised Beds


To prevent smaller animals like gophers and rabbits from eating your food and flowers, build a raised bed. In addition to animal prevention, raised bed gardening is a great way to prevent weeds, and have a beautifully laid out garden in your back yard. Building the beds is pretty easy. All it takes is a good cut of wood and some well placed nails. The beds should be about two feet high in order to be effective. Put a mesh cloth along the base of the beds and then fill them with nutrient rich soil and plant away!


Spray your garden with animal repellants such as Deer Scram. Animals will smell the repellant and immediately reverse course. Of course you may also want to invest in a garden treatment that prevents the issue of unwanted insects as well. Repellants can be purchased at almost any nursery. Spray the plants in areas that you will not eat. Always wash off the plants before you consume them just in case some of the repellant was errantly applied beyond the foliage. Spray the plants with repellant once per week at a minimum or as directed by the product you buy.

The best way to manage your garden will probably be a combination of these tips, tailored to the issues you battle most for wherever you plant your garden. A garden area can really be beautifully put together with a good fence, some of those anti pest plants, and raised beds. Check out Houzz for some ideas on how to put it all together.

Erin Emanuel