How to Keep Animals Out of Garden Without Fences ~ 10 Methods

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Sometimes no matter what you do, critters will find their way into your garden. If you’re in a position where furry animals are hopping into your garden and doing damage to your crops, it may be time to put up a barrier.

Fencing around your property or garden can only help so much and may still allow small critters to get through.

I’ve researched a few different practical methods on how to keep animals out of garden without fences and tried many of these on our property. While it may not be impossible to keep them out for good, you can definitely reduce the amount of damage they do.

How to Keep Animals Out of Garden Without Fences

Here are some of the ways you can keep animals out of garden without fences and keep your garden safe from animals:

#1 Determine the Type of Critters

Depending on where you live, there will be different types of animals doing damage to your garden. Identifying what type of critters can help you successfully manage what kind of methods are needed to prevent them from coming back.

Some common critters that tend to wander into gardens are deer, rabbits, and groundhogs. In the southwest, animals such as javelinas will come through and tear apart a garden.

Looking for tracks in the soil can help you identify what type of critter goes into your yard.

  • Deer: Deer tend to leave behind hoof marks and will leave nibble marks on shrubbery.
  • Rabbits: This animal tends to leave tiny footprints and snip away at small wooded plants.
  • Groundhog: If you notice burrows, damages to leaves on plants, or pellet droppings, then you may have a groundhog. They typically will make a home near your garden and are quite noticeable once you look for specific markings.
  • Bird: The last type of animal that you may find ruining your garden is birds. They tend to pick at any crop they can lay their hands on, even when it’s not done growing. Birds aren’t picky eaters, which is why it’s a bit more challenging to get rid of them.

#2 Change the Types of Plants in Your Garden

One method that doesn’t suit everyone but is an alternative is to switch up the types of plants you’re growing. Plants that are less enticing to animals are less likely to get eaten by them. Although, when animals are desperate for food, they eat everything.

Switching up the type of plants you grow can help deter them from eating them. Plants with pungent smells, prickly textures, or fuzzy exteriors tend to bother animals like osage orange trees.

#3 Plant in Tall Pots

If rabbits are a problem, consider planting in tall planters they can’t reach. If you have small planters on the ground, plant mint, garlic, onions, or root vegetables they may not like. Planting root vegetables means they will have less access to them than leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits. 

#4 Attract Owls and Bats

If you have small rodents getting into your garden, learn how to attract owls to your property. Set up a bat house in a tree on your property. Both owls and bats will help reduce the rodent population.

#5 Sprinkle Coffee Grounds Around Plants

If you’re looking for a more natural repellent, coffee grounds tend to ward off critters. Sprinkle a small amount of coffee grounds around each plant, and it will keep away cats, bugs, and little critters. The grounds won’t damage any of the plants and will compost over time.

#6 Install Chicken Wire

You can prevent animals from entering your gardens with the help of some simple and inexpensive materials. Keep animals out by placing chicken wire on the ground and setting it up with stakes, or use bricks or rocks to create a barrier.

#7 Try Using Repellents

A modern solution is using plant repellents designed to keep animals away. These are generally inexpensive and can keep specific types of critters from coming into your garden. There are natural and artificial types of repellants, so you can switch it up if necessary.

As an example, you can spread cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your garden. This will need to be replenished every few days and more frequently with rain. 

Natural repellants include the following:

  • Castor oil
  • Garlic clippings
  • Predator urine
  • Hot pepper extract
  • Cayenne pepper

Artificial repellants include:

  • Motion lights
  • Ultrasonic sounds
  • Chemical sprays
  • Noisemakers
how to keep animals out of garden without fence

#8 Invest in a Guard Pet 

Animals tend to be wary of other animals in the area. Investing your money into a house pet can be an effective method at warding off any critters. Small critters will easily be scared off by livestock guardian dogs and also by cats.

That said, you’ll need to avoid getting household pets if you’re facing predator critters like foxes or wolves. Dogs generally work well for scaring off larger breeds of animals, but can sometimes cause a mess in your garden.

Training your pet to be a guard dog is recommended, or else, you’ll end up with dug up plants.

Cats, on the other hand, make less of a mess but tend to ward off smaller animals. Their urine gives off a specific smell that can scare away voles, gophers, or rabbits. The only downside is that they aren’t as effective as dogs and will less likely guard the area.

#9 Use Wire Cloches

If you only have a select few plants that are being disturbed, then switching to wire cloches may be the solution. These are small wired mesh covers that help protect against animals.

They are very effective at keeping smaller critters away from thriving crops, but they only cover a small area. They work exceptionally well with rooted plants such as lettuce, broccoli, and small strawberry bushes.

The mesh design comes in numerous sizes, so you can easily find one that works well for your garden. The only downside is that larger animals may be able to knock over or remove these meshes, as they are lightweight.

#10 Cover Up Holes

If you have a wall or fencing with gaps, consider ways the animals are entering your property and block the area with bricks, cinder blocks or other materials. 

#11 Secure Animal Feed

Certain pests, especially mice and rats, will be attracted to chicken crumbles, mash and pellets as well as livestock feed and pet food. Be sure to store all food in a shed or garage, not out. Seal it completely in a tin. Don’t leave feed in a plastic bag as animals will be able to get into it.

Accessible foods, including pet food bowls are what attracts rats.

#12 Place Alternative Food Sources

A significant reason for animals going after your garden is that they lack food in their natural environment. When food sources get scarce, they will tend to eat anything they can access, including plants that they usually wouldn’t consider eating.

Identifying if they’re using your garden as a food source can help you take measures to prevent them from nibbling on crops.

Placing alternative food sources in other areas outside your garden may be able to deter them from eating them. Of course, you’ll have to research the animal’s favorite type of food; otherwise, they will still eat your crops.

  • Nuts and seeds: For birds, we recommend placing bird feeders at the end of your property. Smaller critters will also climb up the trees and eat nuts and seeds from the bird feeder.
  • Food pellets: For larger animals, we recommend placing herbivore plants or food pellets.

While this can be an excellent method for deterring critters from your garden, it can end up attracting more critters’ attention. 

Making the food less readily available is your best option, as an abundance of a food source can cause more critters to rely on the food.

Counting how many critters wander onto your property can help you make a better estimation of how much food to place down.

#13 Install Automatic Sprinklers

If you can’t get critters to stop wandering into your garden, then an excellent way to spook them is to use automatic sprinklers.

Many sprinkler systems are motion-triggered and can easily scare off skittish animals. While this can be an effective method, wind, leaves, or any moving object can also trigger the sprinklers.

We highly recommend using the sprinkler system only if you have a few critters attacking your crops. If you install motion-sensitive sprinklers while having a lot of critters, it may cause the plants to become overwatered. Plus, this is only a practical method if you’re using it against smaller critters.

Larger animals may just ignore the sprinklers and use it as a water source. If this method fails, you can always use the sprinkler system to water your garden. 

#14 Remove Water Sources

At the same time, consider removing water sources from your property. Animals will get the water they need from nature. Consider not filling bird baths, and don’t install a pond or a fountain.

In certain hot, dry areas of the country, such as zone 9b, animals can be drawn to water sources in the summer months when there haven’t been monsoon rains.

#15 Use Noise, Lights, or Motion Activated Traps

If all else fails, then it’s time to invest in unconventional methods. Sharp noises or music can be an excellent alternative to scaring away critters. While your neighbors may not appreciate it, you can turn up the volume on the radio or speakers.

Another suitable unconventional method is to invest in motion-activated lights. Many animals tend to make their move either early in the morning or late at night. If you can’t play noise or music at those times, then using lights can be useful.

Critters sensitive to light can become spooked and decide not to go into your garden.

Lastly, motion-activated traps can be the best last resort. This includes electronic scarecrows that will flail their hands up and down and scare away the small critters. On top of that, you could use ultrasonic repellents that send certain sounds towards the critters.

#16 Scarecrow

If you are old enough to have grown up in the 1970s, you’ll remember scarecrows. They were popular. One year, instead of recycling or donating our kids’ old National Graphic Kids’ Animal magazines, she took a few and cut out pictures of animals’ faces (with intimidating eyes and/or teeth) and pasted them to the sides of our garden beds.

It was incredible how well they worked to deter animals from eating the fruits. The next summer, they were all ruined or faded, and the garden was feasted upon until we built an enclosure.

#17 Consider Safe Trapping Techniques

Not everyone agrees with trapping techniques, but they can definitely be useful if other methods haven’t worked. Not all traps are inhumane and can help deter animals from going near your garden.

Set a live trap to catch a pesky raccoon or possum. The downside to this is you will have to get up close to the animal in the cage, put it in your vehicle, and drive somewhere to relocate the animal. 

Live traps include steel mesh and spring-loaded doors. These traps trick wildlife into the cage and then trap them alive. In some provinces, it can be illegal to use or relocate wildlife, so be sure to check state laws.

Harvesting can also be a good alternative to keeping critters out of your garden. However, we understand that not as many people prefer this method. Plus, state laws may prohibit you from harvesting certain types of animals. So, we’d only suggest this to gardeners located in legal areas.

How to Keep Animals Out of Garden

Many homeowners are faced with the problem of animal intruders in their garden every spring. Some common offenders are squirrels, rabbits, and deer. One of the best ways to keep these pests out is by installing a fence or surrounding your garden with an electric line. This requires a larger budget and can also be cost prohibitive for larger properties.

If you don’t want to install fencing, you can try some of the above ways to deter animals from the garden. Something simple such as patching or blocking existing holes can go a long way to keep some critters away. Keep brush piles to a minimum as well. You don’t want to attract animals by providing shelter for them.

As you can see, there are plenty of methods when it comes to keeping animals out of your garden. We’ve done our best finding the best means of how to keep animals out of garden without fences.

If you feel like we’ve missed anything or have more ideas, then please leave a comment down below. We’d love to learn from you and your experiences on how you prevent critters from getting into your garden.