There’s nothing more disappointing than walking into the garden and seeing treasured plants eaten, pulled out or trampled by deer or some other marauder.

Deer can be a serious problem for gardeners. Photos by Doug Oster Deer can be a serious problem for gardeners. Photos by Doug Oster

It’s usually one of three culprits- deer, rabbits or groundhogs. All three can be destructive, but lets start with the groundhog, which can be the most troubling. They are professional diggers and climbers so fencing has to be specially built to combat them. Use four foot tall chicken wire and bury a foot underground on the perimeter. The fencing above ground is attached to posts, but the top two feet is left to dangle. The groundhog can’t dig under and when it tries to climb over the fence collapses and the pest falls back to the ground. Trapping is also a way to stop groundhogs, a live trap baited with ripe cantaloupe and marshmallows work great. Only leave the trap open during the day, that’s when groundhogs actively feed and you don’t want to catch raccoons, opossums or skunks that feed at night.
There are some commercial repellents that will deter groundhogs too.

Foxglove is one plant the deer will not eat, it's poison to them. Foxglove is one plant the deer will not eat, it's poison to them.

The best way to keep deer away from plants is a physical barrier. It can be problematic to fence the whole yard, but individual plants can be surrounded with wire cages or deer netting. There are a wide range of sprays and granular products to use around plants including Bobbex. Another tactic is to grow plants deer don’t prefer. The problem is that each herd eats differently, things like salvia, anemone, foxglove, garlic, iris and many other varieties are not preferred by the deer. It’s matter of experimenting and talking to neighbors to see what works and what doesn’t.
Rabbits are the easiest of the three to stop. Hot Pepper Wax works great if they get into the garden. They are also easy to fence out.
One of the things that all three four legged pest don't like are dogs. Having a young dog patrolling the property will be a deterrent to stop deer, groundhog and rabbits.
Gardening is always a challenge whether it’s battling weather, insects of furry invaders.

Try these plants that animals avoid.

Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or doster@535mediallc.com. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.