A few years ago, the hardscape portion of my landscape was being vandalized nearly every night by some curious critter most likely a raccoon. The rock borders of the paths would be tossed about like children’s blocks, and the fist-sized river pebbles used as a drainage bed around the house would be randomly uprooted.
I tried every animal-friendly trick that I could think of to discourage this behavior. I tucked dog hair between some of the rocks. I sprinkled flaked chili pepper and ground cayenne pepper around the rocks. I placed foil across the entrances to the paths. I tried children’s pinwheels. But it was all to no avail.
Finally, I found a solution that did the trick: fake snakes!
A 2- to 3-foot piece of 1-inch-thick, braided black nylon rope looks amazingly like a black snake. The rope can be purchased at hardware stores for as little as 58 cents per foot. That’s a bargain too good to pass up for a frugal vegan like me. When the rope is cut, make sure that they heat-seal the cut ends so that it doesn’t fray (there is usually no cost for this).
Several of these fake snakes, curved a bit and strategically placed, did the trick immediately for me. Whenever I pass one, I move it slightly to keep it looking fresh. Since the nylon is durable and weatherproof, the fake snakes last for years. I place them outside in early spring and gather them up in the fall.
How realistic are these fake snakes? Last summer, when a technician was at our home to service our outdoor air-conditioning unit, he urgently knocked on the door. “Excuse me, but there’s a snake out here!” he exclaimed. I smiled as I showed him that the snake-lying about 20 feet from where he was working-was nothing more than a piece of black nylon rope.
I’d also like to remind people that placing dog hair on and around plants may help deter rabbits and deer from grazing on them. See my “Oh, Deer” post for more details. This is especially helpful when it comes to newly planted items; the disturbed soil really seems to attract their attention.
The day before I wrote this, I was out on my landscape weeding when I spotted a not-so-fake garter snake sunning just a few feet away from me. The real snake seemed quite comfortable with the fake snake family that I’ve now dubbed the Braidy Bunch.
What about you? Do you have any humane ways of preventing unwanted visitors from entering your garden? Please share with us any methods that have worked for you.