Our yards are full of reliable food sources for wildlife, especially in the winter. While some homeowners love to see a deer or some rabbits on their lawn, others can only think of the damage they’ll cause. If this is you, there are simple solutions that will prevent wildlife damage while not harming the animals themselves.
Preventing and Recovering from Wildlife Damage
One of the biggest offenders in Upstate New York is deer. Gardens tend to attract deer because their natural food sources are out of season or unavailable. They prefer Wintergreen, Apple, and Flowering dogwood trees as well as Elderberry and Honeysuckle.
To prevent deer from eating your trees and shrubs, there are several things you can do.
- Plant deer-resistant plants: daffodils, foxgloves, monkshood, and poppies are all poisonous to deer but safe for humans. Click here for a full list of deer-resistant plants.
- Construct a fence around the perimeter of your property. Any fence above 4 feet high will keep them from munching on your plants.
- Spray a taste repellent on the plants the deer are going after. A diluted concoction of hot sauce and water can be sprayed onto plants without harming them.
While cute, rabbits can cause a surprising amount of damage to your yard and garden. During the winter, they will eat the bark of trees and shrubs, buds, twigs, blackberry, and raspberry bushes.
If you’re unsure if the damage is caused by rabbits or not, take a closer look at your plants and shrubs. Rabbits will nibble plants down to the ground, and because of their sharp teeth, the leaves that are left will appear cleanly cut. This differs from deer who tear at leaves, leaving ragged edges.
Here’s how to prevent damage caused by rabbits:
- Clean up brush piles, keep the grass mowed, and block access under structures. Rabbits prefer these spots because they keep them safe from predators.
- Add a fence around vegetable gardens that is 2-3 feet above the ground and buried to a depth of six inches.
- Use a spray repellent on plants and shrubs to make them less appealing to the rabbits.
While it’s true that raccoons can sleep for up to a month during the winter, they’re still active and in need of food. They typically eat acorns, corn, fruit, insects, and small animals. They’re also not above digging in the trash to find food to eat.
Signs that raccoons have made a den in or around your home include tracks or smudge marks on walls, decks, or in soft ground near pipes and gutters. If you have a raccoon living in your attic you should always consult a wildlife removal service to get rid of it. Raccoons are known carriers of rabies and their droppings can contain parasites that are dangerous to people.
To avoid welcoming raccoons into your lawn and home, here are several things you can do:
- Make sure there are no openings that would allow raccoons access to your attic or crawl spaces.
- Clear out your garden and throw away any dead vegetation.
- Make sure your trash can lids are sealed.
Squirrels munch on many things including birdseed, tree buds and bark, berries, and flower buds. They also have a habit of digging holes in garden soil and planting pots to look for food or hide some for later.
While nearly impossible to completely eliminate squirrels, there are some things you can do to lessen the damage they cause.
- Take away their food sources by cleaning up fallen nuts, fruits, and seeds. Be sure to secure trash can lids as well so they can’t go digging in the garbage.
- Scare them away with motion-activated noisemakers, pinwheels, and sprinklers.
- Use a natural repellent like chili peppers or mint. Squirrels don’t like either and will not try to eat anything sprayed with chili or mint.
- Make bird feeders hard to climb by placing aluminum ducting, plastic pipe, netting, or plastic bottles around the base.
Repair and Restore Your Lawn
If wildlife has damaged your lawn, you can still have the yard you’ve dreamed of.
At Grasshopper Gardens we’ll repair and restore your lawn in addition to taking the necessary steps to protect it from further damage. We can mow your lawn to prevent rabbits from hiding, care for your perennial flower beds, and trim and prune your shrubs.
Our experts are also able to recognize damage caused by different critters and develop a custom plan to repair your lawn while preventing further devastation. To speak with someone on our team about repairing your lawn, submit a form or call us at (518) 793-9623.