• Sandi Manna

HELP!! My garden is being eaten!!

Ok, so I admit - it's been awhile since I've blogged, but we've been BUSY thanks to all of you!!

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it again...nature is very cyclical. That means that some years are good for X and others bad for X. Depending on how you look at it, it's a very very bad year for rabbits, although they'd tell you they're having a GREAT year! The insects are bad too. Mild winter? I don't know. I'm not a climatologist, but I do know this, whatever the reason may be the insects and bunnies have a veracious appetite this year!

I've been doing this professionally 11 years now, and have been an avid gardener all my life, but I have never seen anything like this!

I am admittedly an animal lover. Thoughts of bunnies and deer used to conjure up images of from the movie Bambi. The cutest creatures best friends forever!

Now that I'm a landscaper and they're interfering in what I do, I think of this:

Ok, so I had a little fun with photoshop.

In all seriousness, if your'e going to treat your garden you need to know what's eating it.

In the images we look at here, you can see there are 2 totally different types of munching going on.

You can see in this picture a rose that has obviously been the main attraction at a buffet. Notice the stick-like structures that are left. Those are leaf veins and clearly not appealing to whatever has been eating this. This rose has been eaten by insects rather than mammals. Believe it or not, mammals are less fussy about what they eat. Insects get on a plant and eat all around the leaf vein, leaving the veins behind.

This hosta was eaten by a rabbit. Notice the actual bite marks on the lower leaves. All plants have veins in their leaves, but this rabbit took a bite and ate the entire leaf.

This hosta was eaten, sorry- correction -*devoured* from the top down. Sadly this is one of my own. I know this is deer.

Deer being taller naturally eat from the top down. They're browsers.

Rabbits being shorter naturally eat from the ground up. Why put in extra work to reach for the buffet when it's literally right at your feet!

So, now that you've identified what's using your garden as an all you can eat buffet, it's time to treat it.

I have my CT Pesticide Supervisor's License, so by the DEEP and State of CT I am authorized to use herbicides and pesticides the average consumer cannot. However, I would recommend a type of systemic insecticide. READ THE LABEL!

I simply cannot emphasize that enough. The label is there for a reason. Some shrubs, perennials or other ornamentals do not take kindly to certain insecticides. Be sure the insecticide you get is for the insect you have! If you're not sure, there are certain characteristics to look for. You can always take it to your nearest extension center, or even better, ask us on Facebook:


There are many other options out there for deer and rabbit. Deer are apparently more stubborn, while rabbits are less adaptable to change.

For rabbits, I am using hot pepper wax. Let's see how keen Thumper is to jalapenos!!

As for deer. *SIGH*. They ARE a problem. I've heard Liquid fence and all that works, but have you read the ingredients???! The active ingredient is "Putrified Egg Solids". That means rotten egg friends. I sprayed it. Once. Never sprayed it again. BLAH!! Get THAT smell out!!

Here's what I use, and I get no re-imbursement from it (C'mon, Haveahart, help a girl out!!). Seriously. I have tried so many different things, and this is what works for me. It's an ultrasonic, motion sensor that sprays deer with water. Granted you have to refill the reservoir, but in my opinion, it's better than smelling like rotten eggs!

So, in summary:

1. Identify your pest

2. Use the control method that works best for them.

This last one also does armadillo. Thank HEAVENS we don't have to deal with armadillo too!

Good luck!

Images Courtesy of Disney, Havahart, Annabella's props and creations and finally, the winking armadillo is courtesy of giphy.com