Existing in Harmony Without Sacrificing Your Garden

May 12, 2015

Do the deer eat your hostas? Do raccoons share your sweet corn?

Humans and wild animals often clash because we need and want different things from the environment, but there are ways to successfully coexist with the creatures that wander the backyards and farms all across Iowa.

On this Wildlife Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with wildlife biologist Jim Pease about some principles of gardening with wildlife in mind.

Pease says you must recognize the animal invading your garden, identify the damage that the animal is doing, learn about the animal, and change the circumstances of the habitat.  Changing the circumstances of your yard can be done in four different ways: exclusion, scare tactics, repellents, or removal.

One example that many Iowans encounter in their own gardens is deer. With deer, one solution is to plant things that the deer won’t be as drawn towards.

“You can change the context by which the deer exist [in your yard] by planting things that are less palatable for them,” Pease said. “Deer like plants that are particularly palatable and easy to digest.”

Some kinds of plants that are particularly palatable to deer include willows, hazelnut, and poplars. For more success, try putting in things like oak or dogwood, which deer don’t seem to like as much.