How to address garden pests, part one: deer and mice

How to address garden pests, part one: deer and mice

Few things disrupt the beauty of a garden and the pleasure of a warm summer day more than the discovery of pests. From large animals to tiny insects, pests pose problems that range from minor annoyances to serious damage, and the everyday gardener may not always know the best way to deal with specific nuisances. We’re here to help with that.

In Part One of our series we’ll showcase the best ways to deter the most common pests from the animal kingdom for Atlantic Canadian gardeners: deer and mice.


For gardeners in rural areas, deer can be an everyday headache. They come to gardens primarily to feed on the grass and the leaves of plants. Once deer have been to your garden, stopping by can become part of their daily routine! Discouraging them from coming back is difficult because of their persistence, but by leaning on our tips you’re more likely to ward off nature’s troublesome attendants.

You can determine if deer have been to your garden by scanning your grounds for their distinctive hoof prints and their bean-shaped droppings. When assessing damage done to plants, look for jagged markings on the leaves and heads; deer don’t have strong teeth and need to pull plants apart to eat them.

A surrounding fence is helpful in protecting your garden from deer, but is not an infallible fix. Unless it’s been built 8 feet high, a determined deer can easily jump over. A more cost effective solution can be adding deer resistant plants to your garden.

Deer don’t like eating all types of vegetation, and planting aromatic and hairy leafed plants along the edges of your garden is a good way to discourage deer from dining in. Lavender, poppies, and Black-eyed Susans like our Goldstrum are all unappealing to deer and will do the job in style. Another similar odor tactic that you can try involves hanging fragrant soaps from trees around your garden!

For the gardener who wants a fast-acting solution, Deer Away is the product you need. This putrescent egg-based repellent is odourless to humans, but will turn deer and their heightened sense of smell in the opposite direction.

Rats and mice

Finding rodents in the garden is almost always a startling experience, and they have an uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere.

These expert sleuths love hiding in tall grass, wood piles and any sort of clutter, so be vigilant in keeping your garden tidy. Food packages and containers will attract mice and shouldn’t be left outside unattended. Signs of rat and mouse presences include their dark rice-like droppings, nibble marks on plants and trees, as well as black grease streaks from the oily fur of rats.

Repellents such as Skoot can put off rats and mice with it’s unsavoury flavour. Spray or paint it on any part of your garden which shows signs of rat visitation to deter the undesirables. A more direct method of controlling rodent population is the use of traps.

Traps eliminate rodents, but only use them as a reactionary measure opposed to a preventative one. They work by attracting rodents and can actually promote more rats to come visit your garden. If traps are properly maintained they are effective at killing the pests and our Predator Mouse Bait Station is a product you should certainly consider if your garden is frequented by rodents.

We hope our tips will aid you in the battle against garden pests. We’d love to hear your personal tips and tricks – feel free to leave a comment below, and happy gardening!


For the first year I can remember (and I’ve lived and gardened here for more than 20 years!) there are cats using my flower garden as a litter box! Is there anything I can do to deter them??

Posted by Fran Drolet on July 29th, 2015

Hi Fran,
That is very unfortunate that you are having issues with domestic animals in your garden. You can try either Cridder Ridder (a cayenne pepper based product) or Get Off My Garden (a citronella based product). Both these products deter the animals due to the smell of the products. Speaking with a neighbour can also help as pt owners have a responsibility as well. We hope this helps!
Halifax Seed Company

Posted by Halifax Seed Company on July 31st, 2015

Normally I love it when deer come around, but we started our first garden this year and now I can’t stand when animals eat our fruits and plants. I didn’t know that a deer fence had to be 8 feet high; I would have thought that 4 or 5 would be sufficient. Thanks for the advice! I want to protect all our hard work.

Posted by Nick Mallory on September 10th, 2015

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