Shoo bunny! Landscaping ideas to animal-proof your veggie garden

During humid summer days, gardens thrive in Atlanta. Well, they do when animals leave...

During humid summer days, gardens thrive in Atlanta. Well, they do when animals leave your garden to grow and flourish. You're not alone if you're watching your carefully planted vegetable garden dwindle leaf-by-leaf. It's time to move beyond plant cages, pest sprays and fencing. Try one of these landscaping ideas to keep critters from ruining your plants.

Mesh plant covers deter deer
When your delicate lettuce leaves and tender bell pepper plants are on the menu for your local deer, you need to protect your garden with a lightweight deterrent. Place a layer of tulle fabric around each plant. This fine mesh fabric allows both sun and rain to penetrate without weighing too heavily on young plants. Reposition the tulle once a week to accommodate plant growth.

Natural deterrents for squirrels
If your garden is already full, try adding a homemade, non-toxic deterrent to the landscape. Pet dogs, cats and squirrels are not fans of spicy, hot foods. Buy a bulk package of dried cayenne pepper powder and sprinkle it around the base of each plant in the garden. Or, place fresh peppers--such as jalapeos--in a blender with some water. Blend, then strain the pulpy mixture. Bottle the spicy water and spray it on and around the plants.

Add to the garden to repel rabbits
One of the easiest ways to repel garden critters is by planting things they don't want to eat. Create a perimeter around the garden with unenticing plants such as tomatoes. The leaves of tomato plants are toxic to rabbits, so they won't go near it, or beyond it to get to the other garden goodies. Or, add some flowers such as impatiens and verbena. These add color to the garden and keep animals away with their natural repelling properties.

New garden style
If you simply can't keep animals out of your garden, it's time to overhaul your gardening technique. Consider landscaping ideas such as container gardens on a deck or porch. Or, call a landscaping company in Atlanta to build a raised garden bed. By building up the area approximately three feet above the soil surface, ground-dwelling animals such as rabbits, lizards and chipmunks can't get in, and you won't have to bend over as far to reach your plants, making tending to your plants easier.

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