Gardening for Life!

Critters & Wildlife

Wildlife Visitors
Some garden groups put up a fence to keep out urban wildlife (of the animal variety!)  Our neighbourhood has these wildlife visitors:

  -  rabbits
  -  deer
  -  voles
  -  Richardson Ground Squirrels (gophers)
  -  squirrels
  -  mice
  -  coyotes

Identify and discuss with your City of Calgary Parks Community Strategist the most common forms of wildlife in your neighbourhood before you choose the fence.  A 4 foot chain link fence  can be a climbing wall for flowering vines like:

1.   clematis (perennial)
2.   sweet peas (annual planted from seed at end of April)
3.   Scarlet Runner pole bean (edible annual from seed).


For burrowing wildlife we are:

  -  using dense wire mesh inserted below the ground surface to stop them from burrowing under a fence.  (Baby wildlife is much smaller in size than adult animals and just as hungry!)

  - contacting Alberta One Call (Call Before You Dig) 1-800-242-3447 2 weeks in advance to find out where utility lines are located before digging to install a fence, wire mesh or act on any aspect of the community garden layout.


Protect individual garden beds from urban wildlife gardeners by:

1.   placing chicken wire around garden beds

2.   using row covers weighted down so they are secure in the wind 

3.   using mesh to cover an entire raised garden bed. 



Deer aren't attracted to plants with a strong taste or ones that have fuzzy or leathery leaves.  That's not to say that they will never eat them!  In order to make the garden unappealing to deer we are planting:

  -  Columbine
  -  lamb's ears
  -  chives
  -  Nanking cherry
  -  onion
  -  beet
  -  black-eyed Susan
  -  borage
  -  currant
  -  leek
  -  marigolds
  -  petunias
  -  rhubarb
  -  snapdragons
  -  forsythia
  -  sage, mint, lavender
  -  spruce, pine and lilac


To discourage deer with light, motion and smell use:

  -  a light connected to a motion sensor to scare deer away

  -  a motion sensor to trigger a spray of cold water

  -  a pair of hanging aluminum foil pie pans filled with small stones where breezes will move them and create  a rattling sound that scares deer away

  -  stuffed mesh bags with chips of fragrant soap and placing them around bulbs and flowers

  -  fencing that fits visually with the neighbourhood and is at least 2.5 meters high with openings smaller than 30 cm.

  -  raised garden beds filled with plants so no earth is showing surrounded by narrow walkways.  This layout suggests to deer that after jumping the fence he/she cannot be guaranteed a solid landing.

  -  organic deer repellent and changing it often so that the deer don't get used to it.



For an excellent summary about managing rabbits in the food garden take a look at:

If Plants Could Talk from Rutgers University´╗┐

 Additional tips:

  -  Planting garlic amongst  the crops. ( Rabbits are confused by the smell.)

  -  Placing pop bottles into the garden bed soil so that the wind blowing over the open end creates a small noise.  (Rabbits don't like the sound.)

  -  Inserting waterproof pinwheels that will move and flicker in the breeze that are anchored firmly in the garden bed soil.  (Rabbits are startled by the movement and run away.) 


Sprinkle blood meal or cayenne pepper.  The blood meal will act as a fertilizer but must be reapplied when it rains.

If you are planting bulbs, plant narcissi because squirrels won't touch them.  (They love to eat tulip or lily bulbs.)

Keep the garden free of piles of debris so squirrels aren't making a nest in them.



If a proposed garden location is overrun with mice read this advice from the Province of Alberta Agriculre and Rural Development right away:

Mice and their Control (in growing food crops)

Here is more information on managing a mice problem in a food garden from Gardening

Garden Mouse Control