We put a lot of love (and money) into our gardens, so it’s disheartening to discover damage caused by insects and animals. But they are simply animals doing what they do so it’s only fair to have a go at getting rid of them humanely. Here are some of the worst culprits and how to send them on their way.
Cute as they are, moles lay waste to all the best laid lawns - and if you have a veg patch prepare for the heartbreak of seeing your endeavours undermined; they love the watered, worm rich soil. To encourage the little diggers to go elsewhere you can buy electronic pulsing devices; placed in molehills they send unwelcome vibrations through the mole’s tunnels. Plastic windmills (the kind you buy at the beach for children) have the same effect, and have the added bonus of giving your neighbours something to think about. You can also plant Caper Surge; the roots are said to be a good mole repellent.
Getting rid of mice in a humane way is tricky; they are clever little beasts that can get almost anywhere, and they breed like wildfire. You can buy humane mouse traps – tempt them in with a bit of peanut butter (mice don’t actually like cheese) check regularly and release your mouse far away. Use plant netting to protect fruit bearing plants or put tasty berry bearing bushes out of reach - strawberries for example love to hang so put them in a wall planter (away from anything a mouse can climb!) or in a hanging basket.
Slugs and snails are a valuable food source for garden birds and great for compost heaps. They are not so great in a veg patch or a flower bed. Slugs in particular are ravenous, if they can’t eat it, they’ll still have a go, leaving unappetising holes in lettuce leaves on their way to banquet on garden favourites such as delphiniums, tulips and sweetpeas. Slugs and snails are abundant in gardens, and there’s no eradicating them completely, but you can help keep numbers down: sprinkle plants and flower beds with washed eggshells (slugs don’t like to slither over them), place copper rings around plant pots, and encourage slug-eaters – hedgehogs, toads, slow worms and birds to move in to your garden with food and a pond. In the winter rake over mulched leaves to expose slug eggs to birds. Alternatively, go out in the evening with a torch and remove the slimy devils by hand.
Whether your feline friend or someone else’s, cats are a menace in the garden, rolling in flowerbeds, pooing in flowerbeds, spraying stuff, scratching stuff and terrorising garden birds and pond life. Protect pond stock with netting and the trunks of young trees with a fine chicken wire. You can help keep moggy off the bird tables by covering the stand with grease (such as Vaseline). Another trick is to place upended drinks bottles in flowerbeds; cats think that reflected lights are actually eyes of other creatures. If a cat is using a flower bed as a litter tray scatter old tea bags doused with Olbas oil. You can also plant the following cat repelling plants: lavender, rue, rosemary, pennyroyal and Scaredy cat.