Raccoons & Squirrels & Deer, Oh My!

I live in a residential part of town but have a fairly large backyard. It has not been uncommon over the years to see deer and raccoon foraging in the backyard, and more recently squirrels. There was a time when I was excited to see these animals come and pay my yard a visit. But more and more they are being relegated to the role of pest.

When my backyard consisted of a big field with a few established trees and some scruffy gardens, the deer were not a problem. But the young cherry trees, the grapes and now the roses have recently born the burden of satisfying the hunger of an increasing number of large automated pruners.

The challenge has become one of discouraging the deer from treating my backyard as an all you can eat buffet. It appears like a dog would take care of that, even a small dog, so long as he was outside and willing to bark at them.  But a dog would cause its own problems and I have no desire for a dog.

I have tried spraying the leaves of their favorite plants, to no affect that I can see.  I have bought a pellet gun and used them for target practice; also will little effect.  Chasing them around the yard has no impact other than giving my wife something to laugh at.

My yard is surrounded by a 4 foot chain link fence, which is nothing more than a speed bump to the deer.  Most of the fence line has thick trees or shrubs growing on one side or the other, but there are a few ‘bare’ spots along the fence.  I chased several deer out over one of these spots last year and ended up tying long thin branches up to the fence and that seemed to take care of the deer.

But alas, they have found a new spot to come through now.  And in a place where branches tied to the fence would likely only further irritate an already cranky neighbor.  But this past weekend I found a nice looking decorative fence that I was able to fasten to the top of the 4 foot fence to raise its height to just more than 6 foot.  Time will tell how successful this attempt will be.

I have generally peacefully coexisted with the raccoons that pass through, and sometimes live, in my yard.  All that changed this past summer when I resurrected a pond in the back yard.  I was amazed, and frustrated, by the amount of damage they would do, chasing fish and tearing up plants.  How do you stop them?

I tried a net over the pond.  They just walked out on it and dropped it down into the water and seemed to fish through it.  I checked with my local pond expert/dealer and she suggested that sprinklers with motion detectors sometimes help.  But the only sure guarantee would be an electric fence.

So now I have an 18 inch electric fence running around the pond.  So far it has not zapped the wife or myself, and has kept the raccoons out of the pond.  But it is rather unsightly and makes lawn care a bit more challenging.  Have to work on that this coming season.

That leaves the squirrels, a relatively recent addition to the backyard.  So far they have not caused much problem other than eating all the walnuts off my tree, which is bad, or eating large numbers of the filberts, which is OK.  The biggest issue I have with them is one they share with the Jays.  They like to plant filberts all over the place which in turn sprout and grow.  But so far that is a small price to pay for seeing the fuzzy little critters playing around in the yard.  But who knows what the coming year will bring!

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