How to Keep Animals Out of Vegetable Gardens

Chicken wire fencing adds protection image by Rollingroscoe, Morguefile


You've lovingly removed hundreds of weeds, turned over the soil, mixed in compost and carefully planted, staked and labeled your treasured vegetables. Now, row upon row of neat and tidy seedlings line the length of your vegetable garden. To secure your work, you'll need to have a battle plan to combat the inevitable presence of squirrels, birds, rabbits and deer that want to share the bounty of your garden. Learning how to keep animals out of a vegetable garden requires diligence and patience as you try a number of techniques to reach success.

Step 1

Dig a slight indentation around the garden to a depth of 6 inches. Create the trench at least 2 feet from the edge of your plants. This little trench will house the edge of your chicken wire mesh to discourage digging.

Step 2

Tap the garden stakes into the ground about 4 inches deep around the perimeter of your garden. Install the small mesh chicken wire to a 4- to 5-foot height by stapling the wire to the stakes. Rig one section for easy removal so you can enter and exit the garden.

Step 3

Soak each individual rag in vinegar. Tie the damp rags to each fence stake near the ground. The smell of the vinegar deters certain rodents from digging under the fence. Each week, re-soak the rags and retie them to the stakes.

Step 4

Sprinkle ground chili pepper in the dirt around the base of your plants to deter visitors from eating foliage or flowers on tomato or pepper plants. Don't put the chili pepper near lettuce leaves.

Step 5

Purchase some bone meal from the home improvement or gardening store. Apply a layer around the circumference of the garden. Bone meal is organic so it won't harm the plants or animals.

Step 6

Visit your local hair salon for clippings or brush the dog or cat and collect its hair. Spread the clippings throughout the garden (especially at the edges) to discourage other animal visitors.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-foot tall plant stakes
  • Hammer
  • Stapler
  • Spade
  • Small-mesh chicken wire
  • Vinegar
  • 10 rags
  • Red hot chili pepper powder
  • Bone meal
  • Human, dog or cat hair


  • University of Vermont Extension
  • Colorado State Cooperative Extension Service
Keywords: animals garden, vegetable garden pests, protect garden

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Photo by: Rollingroscoe, Morguefile