You work hard on your landscaping, so when you see it disturbed by wildlife, your first reaction is to figure out how to stop animals from digging mulch and flowers. Landscape mulch serves a functional and decorative purpose in the landscape, retaining soil moisture and keeping weeds at bay while enhancing the appearance of the area.
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A number of animals, including rabbits, dogs, cats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, muskrats, moles and woodchucks, dig into mulched flowerbeds, spreading mulch all over and damaging contained flowers. Adopt a preventive strategy to keep the pests from damaging your garden and leaving the mess for you to clean up.
Identify the Animal Digging Up Your Flowerbed
Before you take any preventative action, you should first investigate the type of pest digging into your mulched beds to figure out how to best keep the animal away. Look for clues such as footprints, feces, or damage on nearby plants to identify the culprit. For instance, tiny bite marks on the leaves of plants could indicate a rabbit problem, while chipmunks, squirrels, and voles create shallow burrows without mounds.
1. Apply Taste or Scent Repellents
Apply a taste or scent repellent around the problem area to help ward off the particular animal. Commercial repellents, such as pepper sprays and predator urine, may help to deter the critters and keep them from digging your mulch or flowers. Reapply the repellent frequently during the rainy season to prevent it from becoming ineffective.
2. Install a Fence
Fence your garden or mulched flowerbeds as a barrier to stop animals from digging in mulch and flowers. Use chicken or mesh wire with openings no larger than 1 inch to prevent the animal pests from entering. Build the garden fence at least 24 inches high and bury it 8 to 12 inches underground, to keep some animals from jumping over or digging under the barrier. Add a gate to make it easier for you to access your flower garden to weed and maintain it. Inspect the fence frequently for holes or gaps and repair immediately if you notice any damage.
3. Scare Animals Away
Scare the animals away from your mulched beds. Place a scarecrow strategically in the garden or hang aluminum pie plates or foil strips from branches of trees to make noises or create movement that scare them away. Install motion-activated lights or sprinklers around the area that turn on automatically when sensors detect movement, which activates the lights or sprinklers. Alternatively, set timers on the systems to turn on during the time of day or night when human activity in the garden is the least.
4. Train Your Pets
Train your pets if they are causing the damage. Take your dog for frequent walks to help expend surplus energy that is otherwise redirected at digging. Make a sandpit in a corner of your yard and train your canine to dig there by placing treats and their favorite toys there. Supervise your dog's time outdoors and redirect his attention if they start digging your mulch and flowers.
5. Use Different Mulch
Change soft mulch in your yard to a coarse, hard mulch such as rocks, crushed stone or gravel. Most animals find the harder mulches more difficult to dig into.
5. Try Using Natural Deterrents
Although these remedies are largely anecdotal, they're worth a try. Place chunks of soap, human hair, cayenne pepper, or garlic in old pantyhose or mesh bags and suspend near the flowerbeds to deter pests.