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How To Repel Animals in the Garden

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017
Keep rats and other wildlife out of your garden.
rat image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com

You're not the only one who enjoys juicy tomatoes, sweet corn and the other fresh vegetables in your backyard garden. Wildlife critters like rats, mice and rabbits can also find your veggies irresistible. Instead of resorting to lethal measures such as poisons and traps, repel animals using various earth-friendly techniques and garden maintenance strategies.

Clear away empty pots, stands of dense vegetation and grass, scrap lumber and debris that's in and around your garden plot. Such places tend to attract animals like rats and mice who use it as habitats or strategic hiding areas while they're scavenging for food. Maintaining a wide, open space around your garden will deter such critters.

Treat your plants with a homemade repellent spray. Boil a couple heads of garlic for 10 minutes in a quart of water. Pour the garlic-infused water into a bottle and add 2 tbsp. of liquid dish soap. Spray your garden vegetables. The soap kills and deters insect pests, while the garlic smell repels both rabbits and deer, according to Care2.

Scatter animal repellent pellets on the perimeter of your garden. Such pellets can be obtained from some nurseries, general retailers and hunting shops. The pellets are typically made of the urine of bobcats or similar large predators, and scare away animals by tricking them into thinking they are in danger.

Hang strips of foil, CDs or other flashy objects from your garden shrubs or in the trees surrounding your garden. The flashing movement deters birds. Setting up a fake owl, available at many nurseries, can also repel other birds. If you go that route, move the fake owl's location often or else the birds will get used to it and will no longer be afraid.

Turn on an ultrasonic animal repellent device. These gadgets emit a piercing noise that's imperceptible to humans but cause animals much distress. The devices can be purchased from many general retailers and garden stores and should be setup according to their labeled guidelines, since the range of efficacy varies widely by brand.


Things You Will Need

  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Animal repellent pellets
  • Shiny objects (e.g. CDs or foil strips)
  • Ultrasonic animal repellent device


  • Getting a cat can be one of the most effective ways of repelling most small animals. Not only does the cat's physical preference scare away both birds and land animals, but the cat's scent when it is not present can also have a strong deterrence factor.


  • Fallen, spoiled vegetables like overripe tomatoes can attract animal pests. Clean up your garden to avoid tempting the creatures.

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.