Join me!

How to Keep Animals Out of the Garden Naturally

If animals are digging up your vegetables, munching on leaves, and making a mess out of your garden, all is not lost! Here are a few natural ways to keep animals out of the garden without harming them.

squirrel eating

Before I get started on all the ways to keep animals out of the garden, I want to put in a good word for them. We’re part of a much bigger ecosystem. We share our immediate landscape with all kinds of animals and need to ensure we’re making wildlife-friendly spaces in our gardens and cities.

But I understand that animals can sometimes be a nuisance when they eat up absolutely everything or make a mess. You can keep animals out of certain garden areas or away with these natural and completely human approaches.

skunk in grass

In this post, we will cover…

How Do I Keep Animals Out of My Garden Without a Fence

Let’s be honest, even if you have a fence, it’s probably not doing much to keep out animals like cats, raccoons, rats, mice, and birds. Here are a few ways you can try to animal-proof your garden.

mouse in garden
Photo by Debbie Brooks Wolfe

1. Find the Source of the Problem

Ask yourself, why do these animals love my garden so much? See if there’s anything you remove that may keep these animals away.

In reality, you probably want to keep most of your garden and plants! In that case, keep your garden as clean as possible. Keep garbage and compost secure. Clean up fallen fruits and seeds. Clear up any clear nesting spots.

In reality, some animals may get some of your harvest and you may just have to plant more to make up for it.

For instance, I had squirrels eating some of the bulbs I had just planted for my stinzen planting. I knew they would eat some, so I saved some extra to replace the eaten bulbs!

squirrel on pathway

2. Cover the Soil

Many animals don’t like walking on not-so-nice surfaces. You can cover your exposed soil in garden beds with pokey materials like chicken wire, short and sharp twigs, thick mulch, egg shells, uneven river rocks, and bamboo skewers.

sheet mulching

3. Water

Most animals don’t like wet surfaces. If you notice there’s a certain part of the day when animals pay an unwelcome visit, set up your irrigation to go off at that moment.

You can also look into motion-activated sprinklers, just keep water shortages in mind and how often they go off. If you catch them in your garden, you can also give them a light spray from far away.

watering the garden to keep animals out

4. Use Pest Resistant Structures

Wired cloches are great if you want to protect a few special plants. Likewise, you can create your own protective structures using chicken wire and stakes. Garden fabric can also make a plant tent to cover a larger section of plants you want to keep safe.

Baffles can be placed above your bird feeders to keep squirrels off your bird feeders.

5. Try Raised Beds

If ground-dwelling animals (like rabbits) or pests (like slugs) are a problem, it may help to elevate your plants into a raised garden bed. This puts your plants out of reach and also makes gardening a little bit easier on the back and knees!

Vertical garden with three stacked raised beds

6. Get a Cat!

I got my cat, Magic, to help with our pest problem. Living in the city, we have plenty of rats that would come and chew more than their share of vegetables in my garden. It’s quite a big problem here in Vancouver.

Ever since we got Magic, there has been no sign of rats!

Now before you get concerned about songbirds, please understand what Magic’s role is. I adopted a male cat so that he would mark the garden as his. Yes, this means I WANT him to pee around the property. This helps to keep all sorts of animals out of the garden and he is happy to do it.

That being said, Magic wears a bell or bird collar in order to keep the animals safe from him. His job is to deter the animals, not kill them. And it’s also to keep him safe from the animals. With so much rat poison and disease around, I don’t want Magic eating garden visitors. And he agrees. He is perfectly happy to dine indoors after he has helped me in the garden.

A cat used in this way can help to keep away squirrels, mice, rats, birds, and other neighbourhood cats, all while being safe to songbirds. Plus he’s a true family member, and I love his company while puttering in the garden.

cat in the garden

What Smell Keeps Animals Out of the Garden?

Many animals have a stronger sense of smell than us and won’t like certain strong scents. Here are just a few common ones:

One of the best ways to utilize these scents is by making a homemade spray to keep animals out of the garden. You can find an easy repellent recipe here.

how to keep animals out of the garden with a natural spray

Will Vinegar Keep Animals Away?

Many animals don’t like the smell of vinegar, including squirrels, raccoons, foxes, cats, and rabbits. However, vinegar can be very harsh on the garden. It can damage any plants and grass it touches. Note this if you choose to spray dilute vinegar as a repellent.

Another way to use vinegar is to soak rags in vinegar and then hang it around the affected areas of your garden.  

Give these methods a try and see how they work. You may be pleasantly surprised!

raccoon on rock surrounded by flowers


  1. I was surprised that you suggest getting a cat for rodent and bird control. Cats are a major cause in the decline of bird species.
    According to Birds Canada
    “Because so many domestic cats are allowed to roam outside, they kill about 100 – 350 million birds every year in Canada alone!”
    In the States roaming cats kill over 2 billion and up to 4 billion birds annually. Cats don’t differentiate between endangered species.
    Cats are wonderful pets, however responsible cat owners should consider keeping them indoors. Not only is it better for the birds, your cat will be protected from being lunch for a coyote (happens in our neighbourhood) being struck by a vehicle or picked up or injured by strangers. from Cornell University is a great site for those who enjoy birds. Merlin Bird ID app can help you identify them.

    • Hi Cheryl, Thank you for the comment. I have done a lot of research on this topic and written about it a lot in my books. I too am concerned about the wellbeing of birds which is why Magic is not employed to hunt the animals, simply deter them. He wears a bell or bird collar to keep the animals and himself safe. His job is to mark the garden to deter pests, not to kill them. It works wonderfully and we have not had any losses to animals in our garden.

  2. Just one comment about the cat. They are a contributor to songbird decline because they kill thousands of urban songbirds. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.

  3. Yes I agree. That was my first thought when I read get a cat. And a raccoon could really hurt a cat with their long nails & sharp teeth. And you need to feed & take care of a cat not just turn it loose in a garden. It could actually go out in the street chasing a squirrel & get hit by a car. So I dont think a cat is an answer.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


your garden!

This FREE 5-day mini course will help you set up a thriving garden for wellness and joy quickly and easily.

I want the free course!

Join one of my free email courses!

Natural skincare

made easy!

This FREE 5-day mini course will teach you the small changes you can make to your skincare practices that will make a HUGE difference in how you feel.

I want the free course!


your garden!

This FREE 5-day mini course will help you set up a thriving garden for wellness and joy, quickly and easily.

I want the free course!

Learn and Live
with Nature


Garden Therapy Online Courses