How to address garden pests.
White tail deer – While deer may appear to be harmless, they are quite a nuisance in the garden. These super grazers leap over all but the tallest fences to devour the stems, leaves, and buds of many types of plants, including arborvitae, fir, alfalfa, and roses. They also eat fruits and vegetables.
How to Identify Deer in your Garden
If you notice jagged edges on your plant leaves and cloven hoof prints in your garden, then you probably have a deer problem. Watch out for their bean-shaped droppings as well.
How to Get Rid of Deer
There are many techniques you can try to deter deer from munching on your plants. Try some of these methods for your garden:
- · Spray flowers and shrubs with a deer repellant that contains a mixture of dried bovine blood, sulfured eggs and garlic. These repellants are available at most home and garden stores. They will not harm your plants and are usually effective in deterring deer.
- · Make it tough for deer to browse. Trim off lower branches of trees. No deer wants to waste time picking through your scare yard if there are lush bushes next door.
- · Use scare tactics. Try putting several metal posts 4- to 5-feet-tall around the garden. Attach a metal pie tin to the top of each pole with twine The least bit of wind makes the pine tins clack with a noise that the deer don’t like.
- · Clean up your yard. Don’t leave acorns, rotted fruit, or leaves on your lawn; they are an open invitation to hungry deer.
- · For your garden, choose flowers and shrubs that are unpalatable to deer, such as forsythia, lilac bush, marigolds, zinnias, daffodils, lavender and snapdragons. Contact your local cooperative extension for suggestions in your area. See our chart with a list of deer-resistant plants.
- · Put strong-smelling plants that deer don’t like on the outside of your garden and smaller plants that need more protection on inside. Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants, strongly flavored plants, and plants with hairy or furry leaves.
- · Put a transistor radio in your garden and keep it on all night. Switch the station when you think of it. The noise will keep deer away.
- · Set up an inexpensive motion detector in your garden. When a deer triggers it, the noise will scare the deer back into the woods.
- · Drape fabric netting over plants and (most) deer will stay clear.
- · For a natural deterrent, scatter dog or human hair around your garden, or hang human hair in pantyhose or mesh bags in trees. Find human hair clippings at a barber shop.
- · Scatter or hang bars of deodorant or cheap motel soap around the garden; if you leave the wrappers on, the soap will last longer. Irish Spring is particularly recommended.
- · Mix rotten eggs in water (a dozen or so per 5 gallons) and spray around the perimeter of the garden.
- · Spread kitty litter around the edge of the garden.
- · Soak old socks in Lysol and spread around garden’s perimeter and hang from a tree limb or stake.
- · One reader, Rick, says, “Smelly old shoes can be used as a deterrent to deer. Just stick the shoes on top of tomato sticks, and watch the deer walk a wide circle around them. My shoes usually last from mid-May until about mid-August. That is, they keep the deer out of my garden for that long. This depends on the amount of rain and how much your shoes smell.”
- · For a real odor offensive, use predator urine; wolf and coyote urine are sold commercially in most garden stores. (Note: Use responsible source for predator urine, to make sure that the animals are treated humanely and the brand complies with state and federal regulations.)
- · The most reliable method is to fence in your garden. Put up a strong, 8-foot-tall metal fence.
Japanese beetles are small pests that carry a big threat. They do not discriminate on what types of plants to feed on, in fact, they are classified as a pest to hundreds of different species. They are one of the most major insect pests in the Eastern and Midwestern US, causing monumental damage to crops each year. Native to Japan, they were first documented in the US in 1919, and have since spread across the country.
How to Identify Japanese Beetles
Japanese Beetles are ½ inch in length and metallic blue-green with tan wings, with small white hairs lining each side of the abdomen. They lay eggs in the soil during June, which develop into tiny white grubs. These grubs will remain under wraps for about 10 months and overwinter and grow in the soil. They emerge from the soil as adult beetles and begin feeding in June. They usually attack plants in groups, which is why damage is so severe. Although the lifecycle of the adult Japanese beetle is barely 40 days, it can cover a lot of ground. Look for leaves that are “skeletonized” (only have veins remaining). This is a tell-tale sign of Japanese Beetles.
How to get rid of Japanese Beetles
- · Try to select plants that Japanese Beetles will not be attracted to. See our list of Best and Worst Plants for Japanese Beetles.
- · In the grub stage of late spring and fall (beetles have two life cycles per season), spray the lawn with 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap diluted in 1 gallon of water per 1,000 square feet. The grubs will surface and the birds will love you. Spray once each week until no more grubs surface.
- · Unfortunately, the most effective way of getting rid of Japanese beetles is to hand pick them. It’s time consuming, but it works, especially if you are diligent.
- · You can also purchase parasitic nematodes (most garden centers have them) and drench the soil around the area where you have the problem.
- · Neem oil and sprays containing potassium bicarbonate are somewhat effective.
- · Put down a dropcloth and, in the early morning when they’re most active, shake them off and dump them into a bucket of soapy water. They will not survive.
Moles are ground–dwelling carnivores that prefer to eat insects instead of your garden plants. However, their underground tunnels can ruin your garden and lawn and make an easy access to your plants for other rodents.
How to Identify Moles in your Garden
Check your soil and lawn for their tunnels. They will look like raised swellings in your yard. They prefer moist, loamy soil and are most active in the early morning or evening in the spring or fall; they also come out after a warm rain.
How to get Rid of Moles
- · Moles love to feast on lawn grubs, so try spraying your lawns with milky spore disease or beneficial nematodes to get rid of the grubs.
- · Moles are carnirvores that make themselves at home in lawns rich in grubs and insects. When their food is seasoned with castor oil, they will go elsewhere for meals. (Wouldn’t you?) Mix up a spray of 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish detergent; use 4 tablespoons of this concoction in a gallon of water, and soak the tunnels and the entrances.
- · Check out your soil for the presence of pests; if you have a lot of moles, you probably have an oversupply of grubs and bugs.
- · Dip an ear of corn in roofing tar and place it in one of their tunnels. Moles hate the smell of tar and you’ll block their escape.
- · Try sprinkling powdered red pepper in their tunnel entrances.
- · If you want to protect specific plants, dig a 2– to 3–foot hole and line the sides and bottom of the hole with wire mesh. Fill the hole with soil and plant.
- · If you have a persistent mole problem, the best solution is trapping. Frankly, this is often the only way to eliminate moles. Set one or two scissors-type traps in active runs. You can use a straightened wire coathanger to find the long runs; the wire will penetrate the soil easily. After you set the trap, cover it with a board or turf to exclude daylight. Over time, you’ll reduce the mole population. Be persistent!