Pests & Diseases

The Best Garden Decoys That Actually Work to Deter Pests

Do garden decoys really work? Some of them do. Here are 7 of our favorites for keeping the garden pest-free.

I love a garden gnome as much as the next person. They’re a fun way to add some personality around the peas or some cool kitsch to the cucumbers. But when it comes to garden decoys that deter pests, they aren’t all that effective. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the rabbits around my house have been taking selfies with the gnomes.

This also brings up the fact that there are different garden pests, depending on where you live. If you live in a more suburban or rural area, you may need garden decoys for deer, skunks, rabbits, gophers, voles, and a variety of birds. In cities, you may not need to deal with deer or gophers, but birds are certainly an issue, and it’s not unheard of for rabbits and skunks to wander through backyards and community gardens dining on strawberries or tomatoes.

Here’s the catch, though. Even though some of these critters might feed on our vegetables, they can also feed on garden pests like slugs, tomato hornworms, and harmful beetles. So one of the things to consider is how you want to deal with these different pests. You do have options, of course, but this is something to consider. 

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7 Garden decoys (and other ideas!) to keep your garden critter free

1. A fence. A fence is not a decoy, but it can be one of the best ways to keep animals out of your garden. Just remember that deer can easily jump over a low fence, and other animals can dig under one. That said, used in conjunction with other garden decoys, this could be a very effective approach. 

2. Old CDs. That bin of CDs sitting in your basement can get a new life in your garden. Just string them from bushes, trees, or stakes in the ground, and you have a whole set of scary garden decoys ready to go. They are light enough that a slight breeze will blow them around, and the flashing light and sudden movement will scare off most garden pests. 

3. Wind chimes. Similar to CDs, that sudden movement and noise can scare off your vegetable snackers. 

4. Radio. Some gardeners swear that keeping a radio on helps keep pests out of the garden. It certainly can’t hurt to try, as long as you have a safe place to keep a speaker or radio out of the weather. 

5. Motion-activated sprinklers. An unexpected blast of water will keep most pests away. There are several things to consider here, not the least of which is the cost. These devices start around $45, and depending on the size of your garden or how much area you want to cover, you could end up needing a few of these to deter pests. Consider, too, that a lot of activity could result in an overwatered garden. 

6. Motion-activated lights. Similar to the motion-activated sprinklers, these devices are triggered by animals moving around your garden. Some have flashing lights, while others have lights that stay on for a set amount of time. These tend to be a little less expensive than the sprinkler systems, and many of them are solar-powered, which gives you more versatility. 

7. Motion-activated noisemaker. Like the other motion-activated garden decoys listed, these range wildly in how expensive and effective they are and how much ground they can cover. While some are too loud or too sensitive, others offer more control. Some will even play a pre-selected radio station, meaning the sound changes every time it’s triggered, which can help keep garden pests from getting used to one sound. 

Ideas for other decoys and deterrents

There are many garden decoys on the market, including those made to look like hawks, owls, or coyotes. The issue with many of these is that if they sit in one spot, the other animals in your area will get used to them. 

There are, however, plenty of other pest deterrents. Anything from a raised bed to a border of marigolds can help keep unwanted creatures away from your favorite vegetables. You can read about some of those here

Don’t underestimate the deterrent power of a cat or dog, either. Once other animals know there is a cat or dog around, they won’t want to take the risk of eating in your garden and will likely stay as far away as possible.

How about you? What do you use to keep animals out of your garden?

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. She is responsible for generating all daily content and managing distribution across web, email, and social. In her producer role, she plans, edits, and deploys all video content for guides, magazine issues, and daily tips. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

3 replies on “The Best Garden Decoys That Actually Work to Deter Pests”

Living in the desert we have rattle snakes. To keep them from surprising me in the garden I use the little sparkly hand held fans that rotate in the wind. They work so far.

We have been using the old CD method for years. It does work. I had crows snipping off the corn shoots as they came out of the ground. Tried the CD’S method, solved the problem. We leave them out until the corn gets (off the seed) to be about 3-4″.It also kept the other birds and rabbits out of the garden.

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