Protect Your Plants:
5 Tips from The Pros

Small woodland creatures causing a havoc on your garden? Two local experts share their advice for keeping the critters out.
Lovely Chipmunks In The Woods


You’ve been working hard all spring and summer to make your garden perfect—you’ve bought the best supplies, planted the right seeds, watered it just enough. But then, an unwanted critter comes along and gnaws on your crops, destroying your hard work in 10 seconds flat. Not a great feeling, is it?

“Bergen County has so many species that exist very well, including moles, voles, squirrels, mice, rats, chipmunks, groundhog, raccoons, opossum, fox, coyote, beaver, deer, bear, hawks, eagles, heron, geese and ducks,” says Carol Tyler, animal cruelty investigator of Tyco Animal Control, which has shelters in Paramus and Wyckoff. And any one of those animals can do damage to your flower and plant beds.

So, to make sure this doesn’t happen again, Tyler and Rich Walsh, owner of Walsh Pest Elimination in Fair Lawn, come to the rescue with their tips on how to keep these unwanted animals out of your yard and away from your produce once and for all:

Buy over-the-counter repellents. Certain scents deter unwanted pests: ammonia deter deer, lavender keeps groundhogs away and citronella is a deterrent for insects, says Walsh. Simply mist these sprays on your plants and grass, but be sure to apply them regularly, especially after rainstorms.

Keep nibbling at bay. If you’re looking to protect your homegrown tomatoes, Walsh suggests spraying peppermint oil or garlic directly on the vegetables to keep animals away. Need to avoid pests gnawing through your plastic garbage bins? “Keeping the bins securely closed and keeping debris off the ground will help,” adds Tyler. “If you can, store your garbage cans in a building or shed whenever possible.”

Maintain your lawn. Bunnies, squirrels and more small creatures thrive under lush plantings and bushes. By keeping up-to-date with weekly lawn maintenance and making sure your plants aren’t overgrown, you’re giving these little guys fewer places to hang out, and thus fewer opportunities to ruin your yard. “Lighting will also make your yard less attractive to pests,” says Tyler. “Motion sensing sprinklers are a good deterrent, especially at night.” Adds Walsh: “Avoid leaving leaves and debris underneath decks, as this could cause rodent infestations and insects from reproducing.”

Install a special fence. Sure, it’s not the cheapest option on this list, but installing at least 6 feet of solid fencing—made of PVC (vinyl) or wood, says Walsh—will prevent deer from coming in. Installing chicken wire on the bottom of the fence as well as both above and below the ground might prevent unwanted entry from smaller animals like bunnies and rodents, but keep in mind these critters are really good at digging.

Don’t ever feed the wildlife. By not giving these animals human food, they’ll be forced to find their own in nature and thus are less likely to return to your home for another meal. “Wildlife feeding causes problems for all of your neighbors,” says Tyler. “These species have survived many years without our interference, so it is best not to lure them to humans.”

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