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5 Easy Expert Tips to Critter-Proof Your Yard and Home

You love your pretty patch of green. If only the local wildlife didn’t too! Here, natural, harmless ways to critter-proof your property and yard from birds, raccoons, opossums, and other pesky invaders.

Protect berry bushes with CD ref lectors. 

Tired of feathered frenemies ravaging your berry bushes? Put old CDs to new use as guardians of your garden, suggests Marc Parnell, author of The Birding Pro’s Field Guides (Buy on Amazon, $14.95). “Thread twine through the middle of CDs and hang a few like ornaments around berry bushes,” he says. “The reflected light will scare away birds — just change where you hang the CDs every few weeks because birds do learn patterns.” And consider putting a feeder elsewhere in the yard: Birds will flock to the easy grub and leave your berries alone!

Ensure prize blooms with soap bars.

Go no further than your shower stall to protect your roses, tulips and ornamental plants from hungry deer and rabbits, who have a strong aversion to soapy scents, says Grant Higginson, co-owner of West Coast Gardens. “Hang a few bars of soap, such as Irish Spring, around your garden or place soap shavings in mesh bags and scatter them around flower beds.”

Reap a bounty of veggies with Epsom salt ‘fertilizer’.

Don’t let his cute face fool you: A groundhog can lay waste to your veggie garden. The fix? Epsom salts. “Sprinkle the natural deterrent around burrow entrances — look for large holes close to your fence line or near the garden itself,” says Jill Sandy of the gardening blog ConstantDelights.com. “Groundhogs hate the taste and will find greener pastures to pillage.” Bonus: Magnesium-rich Epsom salts also improve your soil.

Keep your lawn thriving with a kitty litter defense

Sigh! Burrowing animals like moles and voles are turning your lawn into Swiss cheese. To the rescue: kitty litter. “Scatter a bit of used kitty litter throughout the trails these critters have made,” says Sandy. “The smell will keep them away.” No kitty litter handy?

Sprinkle castor oil — the odor deters moles and voles without harming grass.

Safeguard your garbage with an ammonia spray

To keep your trash from getting ransacked by uninvited nocturnal guests, give the inside of cans an ammonia spritz. “Trash-raiding culprits — raccoons and opossums — are repelled by ammonia,” says Vicky Popat (PlantOGram.com). Bonus: The spray deodorizes. You can also use ammonia to protect a compost pile—just spray around the perimeter rather than directly on it.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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