Keep garden safe for animals

This is a busy time of year for those of us who enjoy gardening. There are a few things you can do to keep your yard and garden safe for your pets and wild animals, too.

Some lovely garden plants can be toxic to animals. If your pets tend to eat plants, see a full list of toxic plants on the Animal Poison Control Center’s website, www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control.

Fertilizers can be attractive to some animals and can cause digestive upset or more serious problems. Careful storage and following of the instructions on the package for the appropriate waiting period after application will protect your pets. The same goes for insecticides and herbicides.

Nontoxic pest control, such as diatomaceous earth (food or garden grade — not the treated stuff for pools); Safer Insecticidal Soap; Sluggo Plus; and BT, or Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis, are effective and a lot safer.

If rabbits or other small animals are eating your plants, try raised beds or planting a perimeter of plants that the animals do not like. These plants include garlic, onions, chives, lavender and marigolds. You can lure animals away by planting things they really like in another area of the yard, such as clover, alfalfa, long grass or wildflowers.

Ears of corn can be protected from animals with a spray of water mixed with hot sauce or cayenne pepper — spray regularly as ears grow. Mesh, hardware cloth or a loop-wire tunnel works for low plants.

When I was a kid, we made a scarecrow and hung strips cut from aluminum pie plates to scare off unwelcome garden visitors. These days, you can buy fake snakes or owls, but inexpensive wind socks or chimes also will drive off many animals.

Cats or dogs digging in your garden? Chicken wire laid on the ground will put a stop to that.

There are also deterrents you can purchase.

They come in three basic types that are effective for keeping animals from using your yard or garden as a bathroom stop or snack bar while still being humane:

» Ultrasonic sound devices: Humans cannot hear them, but animals do and go the other way. (Buy a model with settings that work for your target animals.)

» Motion-activated water repellents deter animals with a sudden burst of water.

» Scent deterrents, usually sprays or crystals that can be applied to surfaces or sprinkled on the ground.

Give some of these suggestions a try and you’ll feel good knowing you took a savvy, safe and humane approach to solving the challenge of animals in the garden.

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