How to Keep Animals Out of the Garden


Your garden is beautiful--well, almost. Several of the lilies have vanished overnight, and ripening tomatoes or zucchini show trampled vines and tasting bites. Unfortunately, a variety of animals can take a strong an interest in your garden. To salvage the remains of this year's plantings or get a fresh protective start on next year, you can erect fencing and use other protective measures to keep your garden intact. These strategies will deter rabbits, woodchucks, skunks and even curious deer from helping themselves to a snack and ruining your hard work.

Step 1

Use your shovel to dig holes for fence posts or use a sledge or mallet to hammer them into the ground to a depth of 6 inches. You will need enough posts to provide one every 3 to 4 feet around your garden. Leave one extra post free to form a gate, unless you plan to build or install a prefab one.

Step 2

Dig a narrow trench (2 to 4 inches wide and 4 to 6 inches deep) between the posts, all the way around the garden. To deter burrowing animals, your fence needs to go down as well as up. The trench enables you to bury and cover several inches of mesh, making it harder for digging animals to enter the garden.

Step 3

Staple poultry or rabbit mesh to the posts or use the hanger-hooks on metal posts. Remember to attach mesh after you have sunk it into the trench. Unrolling mesh and laying it flat before attaching may make it easier to handle. If you must choose between having the mesh extremely tight or slightly loose between two posts, opt for slightly loose; this slight shakiness will discourage animals tempted to climb.

Step 4

Replace soil you dug out to make the trench, covering the lowest part of the mesh. Tamp soil down hard on both sides of the mesh.

Step 5

Provide visual confusion by hanging reflective objects on your fence. Aluminum pie pans, strips of mylar, and even old CDs can be strung on fishing line. Lightweight, they will move in the breeze and catch the light, confusing animals that approach the garden.

Step 6

Use plants that deter animals by smell or taste. Daffodils are notoriously unpalatable to almost all animals. The smell of garlic, onion and marigold also repel many animals and certainly confuse them about more the enticing garden contents. Alliums (a type of onion) of all kinds combine spring blooms and bad smells. Use all of these to border your garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Everyone knows that woodchucks can't climb. Everyone is wrong. When there are ripe tomatoes at stake, they are fast learners--and even faster eaters. Keep your fence mesh a little loose so they fear it won't hold their weight.

Things You'll Need

  • Five 6-foot fence posts (metal with hangers or wood)
  • Staple gun for wood posts
  • Sledge or heavy mallet
  • Work gloves
  • 48-60-inch poultry or rabbit mesh
  • Wire-cutters
  • Rag strips or other ties to hold gate closed
  • Shovel
  • Garlic, onion, marigold plants, and daffodil bulbs
  • Aluminum pie plates, mylar strips, or old CDs
  • Fishing line
  • Scissors


  • Additional strategies
Keywords: keep animals, out of the garden, how to

About this Author

Janet Beal holds a Harvard B.A. in English and a College of New Rochelle M.S in early childhood education. She has worked as a college textbook editor, HUD employee, caterer, and teacher. She is pleased to be part of Demand Studios' exciting community of writers and readers.