Hi, This is good information. Note that there are no cited sources for most of the data, but the principals are evident. Also, some plants used as deterrents are also toxic or noxious to humans, some are invasive, and others are food as a grazer alternative from the main crops. In permaculture design, we want to use ecological function of plants to help our anchor plants thrive. Passive deterrents are preferred such as aromatic pest confusers. Multiple deterrents in moderation will add diversity and aggregate benefit. I do not recommend any chemical sprays or poisons, nor do I guarantee any of these tactics listed below will work in your situation. These are good anecdotes to start with as you develop your own resource management system. Dan Halsey
Cats and Dogs
Cats and Dogs
- Grind up grapefruit or lemon rind. Spread over the soil.
- Use any thorny plant clippings like rose or raspberry canes to spread on the soil.
- Plant some catnip or catmint in an out of the way area to keep cats away from other garden spaces.
- There is a repellent sold at PetSmart called "Reppers" that quite a few people have said is very effective against cats.
- Make a tea from rue and spray the boundary. Cats hate rue. Try planting rue here and there to repel them and to have some to make your own sprays. Rue is a pretty perennial herb with blue, green leaves and yellow flowers. It can cause contact dermatitis in some people. Also try planting a thick groundcover like sedum acres, hardy iceplant etc.
- Maybe: Here's an interesting trick. Place mouse traps with the trap side down on the soil. When they are disturbed they will pop into the air and scare the intruder. The trap is already sprung when it jumps so it won't hurt the cats.
- Dogs and cats: Some folks have had success by sprinkling bloodmeal on the soil.
- If you can get seeds from a sweet gum tree try using them as a barrier.
- Spread pinecones around.
- Try spraying full strength lemon juice where they get in the garden.
- Plant calendula (pot marigold) which repels dogs.
- Use chicken wire or plastic mesh disguised under some mulch in garden beds. Cats can't dig so they won't (hopefully) poop.
There is no real sure cure for repelling deer other than tall fences. Some of the methods that follow may work better for certain types of deer than others. When food is scarce deer can and will eat just about everything. Experiment to see what make work for your deer problem.
Here is the definitive answer on deer fencing methods from Jan Reeves in West Virginia.
Our thanks to Jan for sharing this!
Our thanks to Jan for sharing this!
We have some very aggressive deer here in West Virginia. This is the only deterrent that has worked when the bush beans are in full flower. We've had this barrier broached once. During hunting season a spooked buck tore through the upper wires but he was running so hard he never noticed the garden. All the other deer have been content to trim our hedge and munch on marigolds.
- Erect the usual 4 foot 12 gauge fence around the area. Place posts 6 vice 8 feet apart so deer can't lean on the fence and bend it.
- Every 18 feet or so clamp 10-12 foot poles to the fence posts. String cheap electric fence wire between poles at about 2 foot vertical intervals. Tape Christmas tree icicles to wires at about 3 ft. intervals. This confuses the deer as to the height and density of the "extended" fencing.
- To be absolutely effective, erect a single wire barrier 27 inches up and 30 inches beyond the fence row. Deer get between the wire and the fence but can't gather themselves for the jump.
Egg spray: mix 5-6 raw eggs in 1 gallon of water and spray. This will cover approximately 17,00 sq. feet. The smell of decomposing eggs keep the deer away while being too faint a dilution for humans to detect. The U.S. Forest service has used this for years. Also including some antitranspirant in this mix will extend the benefits. An alternative is to use wettable sulfur which gives off that rotten egg smell. Mix according to directions and spray as a barrier.
More Homemade Deer Repellent Sprays:
- 2 raw eggs 1 cup skim milk 1 cup water 3 garlic cloves 1 Tbs. sticker/spreader (available at nursery) or dish soap. Application: Blend together, add to a gallon sprayer and fill to line with water. Spray oo plants as needed.
- Homemade Deer Repellent with Eggs In a blender, mix two eggs to one cup of water. Blend well then add one cup of skim milk and any type of sticker such as soap. Put this mixture into a sprayer and spray a light mist over the plant. There will be very little odor but deer will not find it appetizing. This recipe is over one hundred years old and is suppose to be very effective.
6. Hot sauce spray: Mix 1-2 tsp. of Tabasco sauce and 2 tsp. of antitranspirant in 1 gallon of water. Spray. Must be reapplied after rain.
7. Plant some specific plants at the outermost perimeter of your yard for the deer to graze on. These plants can generally take the "natural pruning" done by the deer and flourish. Deer will eat just about anything when feeding conditions are poor.
- Choices: Gambel Oak, Fourwing Saltbush, Rocky Mountain Smooth Sumac,
Saskatoon Serviceberry, Wood's Rose.
8. Inside the feeding ground barrier a buffer of possibly deer resistant plants is wise. The following table has a selection of plants that are considered more deer-proof. When hungry deer will eat just about anything so nothing is infallible. For a great listing of deer resistant plants visit Rutgers University Deer Plant Page.
9. Try putting pallets flat on the ground around your garden. Deer usually will not walk on or jump over these. Usually your local newspaper is a good source for free pallets.
|Trees||Blue Spruce||Bristlecone Pine||Hawthorn||Holly Tree||Norway Maple||Oaks|
|Trees||Oregon Myrtle||Redwood||Smoke Tree||Sweet Gum||Tanbark Oak||Walnut|
|Shrubs||Boxwood||Butterfly Bush||Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany||Japanese Barberry||Junipers||Natal Plum|
|Shrubs||Potentilla||Redtwig Dogwood||Rhododendron||Scotch Broom||Star Jasmine||Wild Lilac|
|Groundcover||Aarons Beard||Ajuga||Irish Moss||Lily of Valley||Manzanita||Myrtle|
|Groundcover||Dianthus||Peppermint||Scotch Moss||Siberian Catmint||Spearmint||St. Johns Wort|
|Vines||Algerian Ivy||American Bittersweet||CA Fuschia||Clematis||English Ivy||Virginia Creeper|
|Perennial||Anemone||Artemisias||Asclepias||Babys Breath||Bee Balm||Chrysanthemum|
|Perennial||Foxglove||Hellebore||Iris||Lady Fern||Lambs Ear||Oregano|
|Perennial||Oriental Poppy||Pampas Grass||Sword Fern||Wood Fern||Yarrow|
|Succulent||Hen & Chick||Sedums||Spiny Cacti||Yuccas|
10. Hang fabric softener sheets in and around areas to be protected. Replace after several rains.
11. Mix a gallon bucket of clay soil and water with cayenne or any hot pepper and garlic. Paint this on trunks of trees and stems of shrubs. This will not harm the plants.
12.Hang deodorant type soap every 4 feet or so from your trees' branches. Keep them at a height of 30". One warning: ground hogs like the soap.
13. Coyote urine which is available commercially has been reported to be effective as a deer repellant. We have had quite a few people write in to the contrary that predators urine scents don't seem to work at all.
14. From the Bartlett Tree Experts' Research Laboratory in North Carolina is this interesting deer control technique. They have installed a post and rail fence strung with solar powered electric wires. Sure the deer might figure out how to get past it without getting jolted so Bartlett has come up with this behavior modifier. They put blobs of peanut butter on the fence which deer find irresistible. They come to get the goodies and the shock is such an unpleasant surprise that they remember the experience and don't bother coming back to try and jump the fence!
15. We have been told that deer will avoid Russian Sage like the plague. Russian sage is certainly a beautiful perennial and worth a try! Bees love it.
16. To keep deer from bulb plants- soak them in Alum water before planting.
Moles, Voles and Groundhog
1. Castor beans or mole plants (Euphorbia lathyris) can be planted around or in a garden. The bean seeds can also be dropped in tunnels. However, both plants are very poisonous and should not be used where small children may come in contact with them.
2. Spray a solution of 1 tbsp. of castor oil and 1 tbsp. of liquid dish soap per gallon of warm water on soil and plants.
3. Place elderberry cuttings in the tunnels.
4. Sprinkle chile powder and powdered garlic into tunnels weekly.
5. Scatter ground red pepper into the runs.
6. Plant ornamental blooming scilla (squill) bulbs as a garden border or around susceptible plants to repel moles. Also known as "Wood Hyacinth." Scilla comes in shades of white lavender, blue, and pink with nodding bell-like flowers. Over the years they will multiply and fill in. Easy to grow and an attractive spring flower.
7. Last resort: Place rolled up pieces of Juicy fruit gum in mole tunnels. Wear gloves to mask your scent when you unwrap the gum. Moles love it, but it clogs their innards, fatally. Or use Ex-Lax which has the opposite effect.
8 Find the entrances then put sulfur into the holes and seal all of them with soil.. Another option is to place small ammonia soaked sponges into each hole and seal.
9. Some people have had success at keeping moles at bay using hot peppers. Use jalapenos, habaneros, the hotter the better! Keep a bag full in the freezer to have on hand when you need them...ready to use against moles and for your bug sprays. What you want to do is tightly pack the peppers into the openings of the runs using as many as you need. Do this everywhere you find an entrance and at intervals along the tunnels if you can find them. Dig an opening then stuff with peppers. For every spot you pack with peppers be sure to fill it in with dirt and tamp down firmly.
10. Try placing dog or cat hair in the entrance holes and runs.
1. Tree guards: In fall wrap the lower portions of the trunks with commercial tree wrap, burlap, foil, or metal window screen. The wrapping should be 2' above the height of the deepest snow expected, rabbits can walk on top of the snow. Remove wrappings from the trunks in spring.
2. Sprinkle or hang cheesecloth bags of bloodmeal around plants. If sprinkled it must be redone after rain.
3. Vinegar: Soak corn cobs (cut in half) left over from a meal in vinegar for 5 minutes, then scatter throughout the flower or vegetable garden. Two weeks later soak them again in the same vinegar. You can keep reusing this same vinegar again and again.
4. Spray a tea made from cow manure and water as a repellent.
5. Soybean plants will repel rabbits or some say they attract them.
6. Onions will repel them. So will bonemeal.
7. Use red pepper, black pepper, cayenne, paprika etc. as a dust to repel. Rabbits are always sniffing so they snort this up and it sends them packing.
8. Mix 1 well beaten egg, 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce, and 1 gal. of water. Paint this on the tree trunks to prevent munching. This will not harm the trees.
9. Plant "Mexican Marigolds" (Tagetes Minuta) and garlic in the garden to repel them.
10. Set old leather shoes (from the thrift shop) around the garden to give it that "humans are here" smell.
11. Garlic Oil Spray may help to repel rabbits.
- To make: Combine 3 ounces of minced garlic cloves with 1 ounce of mineral oil. Let soak for 24 hours or longer. Strain. Next mix 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion with 16 ounces of water. Add 1 tablespoon of castille soap to this. Now slowly combine the fish emulsion water with the garlic oil. Kept in a sealed glass container this mixture will stay viable for several months. To use: Mix 2 tablespoons of garlic oil with 1 pint of water and spray.
13. Pepper and Glue Spray: Mix together 2 tablespoons of ground red pepper or Tabasco sauce, 1 tablespoon of Elmer's white glue and a quart of water. Spray as needed but not right before you are ready to harvest as the solution may be difficult to wash off your produce.
14. A good rabbit repellent is a mixture of 85% raw linseed oil, 5% household detergent and 10% water. This can be applied with either a paintbrush or small sprayer. Use as a barrier spray but not directly on plant foliage.
Raccoons and Skunks
NOTE: Skunks have been known to go after sweet corn just like raccoons! To add to that not much will stop raccoons.
Raccoons usually have litters of between two to seven babies. They travel what we call "runs" and will use the same runs generation after generation for decades. They can easily scale high wooden fences. They are nocturnal and do their scavenging at night.
Skunks are also nocturnal or nighttime marauders and can claim up to 10 acres in their territory! Skunks habitually use old borrows left from other creatures or like to make a home in hollows underneath buildings and porches. They will, on occasion, dig their own burrows.
1. Plant anything with prickly foliage to deter them such as squash plants, oriental poppies, globe thistle, pumpkins, Kentucky Wonder pole beans etc. Raccoons have incredibly sensitive toes.
2. To keep them from corn plants: put 2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce near the tip of the ear at least one week before picking.
3. To trap raccoons: use baits like sardines, marshmallows, or honey soaked bread.
4. Surround the area with a horizontal border that coons and skunks don't like to walk over-crumpled up black plastic, newspaper, or aluminum foil. Hold these in place with some rocks, landscape pins, or soil.
5. Use mesh fencing or chicken wire as a horizontal barrier. Raise these slightly above the ground with some bricks to make it even more of a hassle to cross.
6. Spread naphthalene flakes or balls around, raccoons hate the taste of this in their paws and they are said to also aid in repelling skunks.
7. Put paper bags over ears of corn and fasten shut with a rubberband.
8. When the ears are getting close to harvest time tape them to the stalks with masking tape!
9. Use any kind of old netting: fish netting, tennis net, whatever as a barrier. Stake loosely to hold in place.
10. Use rose bush trimmings as a barrier, or anything with stickers.
11. Plant cucumbers with your corn. Both raccoons and skunks hate cucumbers for some reason.
12. Sprinkle a barrier of lime around the perimeter to be protected.
13. To keep raccoons from getting the fruit in your trees: wrap a barrier of aluminum or sheet metal 2 feet in height around the trunk of the tree. Be sure not to make it tight you want to let your tree trunk breathe.
14. Soak old corn cobs in vinegar. Place them around the plant to be protected. Supposedly once they chew on these they will not come back. We found that last season this worked on both skunks and raccoons for about 2 months. Apparently after that they got wise and were up to their old tricks.
15. Skunk Spray: Make a spray out of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon dish soap. Spray this around areas where you would like skunks to stear clear of such as garbage cans. Don't get this on foliage.
16. Sprinkle flour around suspected nesting or sleeping areas.
Rat and Mice Control
1. For trapping mice: Use pumpkin seeds; you'll find that mice can't resist them! They sure are great roasted and salted, the pumpkin seeds, that is!
2. Scatter fresh or dried mint or holly leaves as a repellent. The mint works like a charm! We use it everywhere mice are a problem and they will not go near it. Smells nice too. We have had a good deal of email from folks that wrote us to say mint works great for them too!
3. Protect the bases of trees by wrapping loosely with 1/4" hardware cloth or foil. Be sure to keep any mulch pulled away from the trunks.
There is always cats as an option!
4. Don't mulch any perennials until after a few frosts. The rodents will have found a home by then and not in your mulch!
5. Encourage snakes and owls to stay near the garden to provide natural control.
6. Trap baits: nut meats, dried fruits, or bacon.
7. Plant "barriers" of perennial sweet peas (Lathyrus latifolius) which will repel mice. You will enjoy the beauty of these plants for many years to come too.
8. Spray Ropel on the plants that are being bothered by mice.
9. Keep the soil around plants bare, as mice do not like to come out in the open.
10. Daffodils (Narcissus spp.), wood hyacinth (Scilla or squill) and grape hyacinth (Muscari) are said to repel rodents. Plant a pretty spring blooming border of them to help protect your other plants year round.
11. Planting herbs with a powerful scent will repel mice. Best choices are alliums, camphor plant, dwarf elder, elderberry, euphorbias, any mints and wormwood.
12. If you are allergic to or cannot tolerate cats then there are certain dogs which will take care of mice for you. Certain terriers are well known as "ratters" and so are Italian greyhounds.
Snakes may seek refuge beneath buildings. If there is a gap or opening, they will enter and inhabit a building, just as house mice do. Sealing all cracks and other openings greater than 1/4 inch can prevent them from entering. Gaps beneath garage doors are often large enough to permit snakes to enter, especially young ones. In summer, snakes may be attracted to cool and/or damp places, such as beneath buildings and in basements. Access doors on crawl spaces should be inspected carefully for breaks or gaps. Use caution if you must crawl under a house or other building. Hot tub or swimming pool pump enclosures may provide cover if they are not well sealed. The dampness associated with ornamental water fountains, pools, and fishponds may also make the surrounding area attractive to snakes.
1. Burn the leaves of Comfrey, Rue, and Bay. Scatter where snakes are.
2. A barrier of "Flowers of sulfur" may repel snakes. This should be available at local drugstore or pharmacy and is also known as elemental sulfur. We have heard of this being used successfully where copperheads are a problem.
3. Wormwood: this herb when dried and scattered around may repel snakes. Planting a barrier of wormwood plants is another method. A perimeter spraying of wormwood tea may help.
4. Spray ammonia around the snakes hole to repel, then later fill them in with dirt.
1. Bulbs: soak them in Ropel before planting and squirrels will leave them alone. You can also dust them with medicated baby powder.
2. Put sheet metal collars on trees to keep them from climbing the trunks. Prune back any access limbs also.
3. To keep squirrels from the bird feeders in winter try growing witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. It can be grown in the East and Midwest. They grow underneath trees and can continue blooming into December. The flowers form a seed pod that will eventually shoot out the seeds on the ground which supplies squirrels with some winter forage. 4. Sprinkle pepper or paprika around squirrel prone areas.
5. Using any type of "sticky barrier" can be effective as the squirrels' hate the sticky feeling on their paws.
6. For pole type bird feeders: grease the pole with petroleum jelly. They will get the message pretty quick and go elsewhere for goodies.
7. Learn to get along with them. We have squirrels who do get into the bird feeders but in general cause no trouble at all! In 15 years they have dug up some bulbs one time and that is it!
8. Plant Fritillaria imperialis bulbs in the area of plants that you want to protect. Supposedly they have a particular smell that squirrels and chipmunks find repulsive. They are certainly beautiful plants and a great addition to your garden!
9. Beware that water features will attract squirrels and chipmunks too!
10. To keep squirrels and chipmunks from bulb plants- soak them in Alum water before planting.