Whether it’s a clever fox or a friendly cat, the animals that sometimes wander into our gardens and outside spaces can be a wonderful sight. However, as anyone who has a well-tended vegetable patch or flower bed knows, they also bring the potential for mayhem!
Here’s how you can humanely, and safely, deter those that are the most commonly disruptive – cats, foxes and squirrels.
Cats are curious and friendly animals, but quite naturally they foul in the garden to mark territory. They tend to choose open areas of soil to do so, or places where smaller stone chippings are laid, and can dig up freshly planted vegetation in the process. Instinctively, they might also hunt birds and other small creatures.
What to do:
- You can’t always be around to chase cats away, so it’s a good idea to protect vegetable patches and borders with netting, at least until the plants have grown to cover more of the soil.
- Try and plant flowers and bushes closely together within borders.
- It’s helpful to keep bird tables and feeders somewhere inaccessible to cats.
- Automated water squirters can also be bought, which spray a refreshing jet when an ‘intruder’ is detected!
- There are also safe sprays and repellents you can buy.
Foxes are similar to cats in the problems they can cause – marking territory, digging up borders and being a danger to other animals, sometimes including cats! They’re renowned for scavenging from bins and, unlike cats, they also eat various garden vegetables, as well as worms, which are very important for soil health.
What to do:
- Potential food sources should be removed or made impossible to access – so bins and composts should have lids that foxes can’t open.
- Try and protect fruit and vegetable crops, or areas where foxes might dig for worms, using fencing and what’s known as ‘weld mesh’.
- Clear up windfall fruit quickly as they love to eat it when it’s rotting!
- If you have pets such as rabbits, keep them indoors at night – or at least in very fox proof enclosures.
- Foxes love to make dens and breed in areas where there is dense vegetation as it keeps them hidden, so it’s a good idea to deal with any ‘wild’ areas of garden you may have.
- It can be extremely difficult to keep foxes out of gardens. So, although there are a few things you can do to try and deter them, you may need to be patient!
Squirrels may be lovely to watch but can also cause trouble in a domestic garden! They love to dig up bulbs, eat garden vegetables and steal food from bird feeders.
What to do:
- The only fairly sure way of preventing squirrels eating your vegetables is to cover susceptible areas with squirrel proof meshing.
- Chicken wire, or similar, placed around bulbs, with more soil then put on top, should protect bulbs from being dug up.
- Try and position bird feeders in places squirrels can’t easily leap onto from above. You can also apply something like Vaseline to bird table support poles, as it makes it harder for them to climb.
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