The Clever Plastic Fork Hack That Keeps Small Critters Away From Your Garden

The hardest thing about gardening is watching your hard-earned vegetables and flowers get eaten by animals. While sometimes adorable, common garden pests like raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits can quickly destroy an entire crop of vegetables that took months to grow. If you are like many gardeners today, you probably don't want to harm your backyard critters, however, you also don't want them to set foot in your garden. For some animals, simply adding a strong scent around your yard is enough to deter them — like using Irish Spring soap to scare away deer or planting cucumbers to repel raccoons. However, oftentimes more determined garden criminals like squirrels, rodents, and rabbits don't seem bothered by any odor for long.

The solution? As weird as it sounds — plastic forks. In fact, by taking some plastic dinnerware leftover from last year's barbecue and placing them pronged-side-up in your garden beds and pots, you can easily deter most small garden animals. This method works great because it is not only cheaper than other methods (like purchasing chicken wire or a motion sensing device) but is also chemical-free and harmless to the animals. The purpose of the plastic forks is to simply surprise and scare any critters that land in your garden to dig, steal, or munch.

How to use plastic forks in your garden

There are a few ways to deploy plastic forks in your garden and what you want to prevent will determine how you use them. For example, one Redditor on the gardening forum of the website recommended pushing the forks almost all the way into the soil until about a half inch of the top is left exposed. They went on to explain that this "will keep [the squirrels] from jumping into the garden and digging when their paws hit the sharp ends." With this method, you can choose to plant your forks in certain areas to protect specific plants. However, if you want to stop small critters from entering your garden altogether, you will need to cover your entire garden area with upright plastic forks.

The second option seems to work best for young plants and involves planting forks about halfway into the ground in a protective ring around the plant facing outward. This was the method recommended by one Redditor who referred to it as creating "fork fortresses" and claimed that this method helped "prevent squirrels from digging up [their] seedlings."

Disadvantages of the plastic fork method

There are a few caveats when it comes to using the plastic fork method for deterring garden critters. The first is that it might not fly if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA or strict rules about yard appearance because, unfortunately, having a bunch of plastic forks sticking upright out of your garden doesn't necessarily look nice. You may end up even confusing your neighbors into thinking someone is out to get you because "forking a yard" is a common prank that is sometimes done by kids for some harmless laughs.

Furthermore, while the plastic fork method works well for some animals, it is seemingly not as great at deterring others. There is a consensus across the internet that upright forks are a great way to keep squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits away from plants, however, the reviews are more divided when it comes to cats. While some sites claim that forks work well in deterring cats, when the concept was tested by Epic Gardening, they found that the cats simply pushed the forks aside or knocked them over. Luckily, there are plenty of other more successful ways to keep cats out of the garden.

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