How to Protect Your Outdoor Cannabis Plants from Animals?

Created by
Added 30 January 2023

Many growers argue that growing cannabis outdoors is the best method of growing weed because it lets your plant thrive in a natural ecosystem in synergy with other plants, organisms, and animals. 

However, not all animals that hover around your plant are safe. Some including raccoons, rabbits, deer, and mice can be harmful and potentially kill your plant. 

And no matter how cute some of these creatures are, you must protect your cannabis plant from them. The good news is that it’s often easy. Learn all about protecting your cannabis from animals and rodents in this article. 

Why Do You Need to Protect Your Cannabis Plants from Animals?

Why Do You Need to Protect Your Cannabis Plants from Animals?

Contrary to popular belief, most wild animals or mammals don’t add many benefits to your cannabis garden. In fact, they can even wreak havoc on your garden. So, you must protect your cannabis garden from such animals to support your plant and yield a terrific harvest. 

Essentially, many animals, like rodents, foxes, deer, etc. can damage your plant while they go about their business. Here are some ways they can damage your cannabis plants:

  • Many animals, like moles, burrow too close to the root system and damage them or affect their ability to take up nutrients and water 
  • Some animals like deer graze on the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant, which can seriously affect your plant’s health
  • Animal urine and feces can also attract harmful pests and pathogens into your garden, leading to an entirely different set of problems. Yes, we use manure to grow plants, but remember to only use rotted or old manure rather than fresh manure as it’s going to be teeming with bacteria. 
  • Plus, the urine of many animals contains a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen, which can cause nutrient toxicity in your cannabis 
  • And THC is also harmful to many animals, including our beloved cats and dogs — THC is toxic for them and can cause vomiting, sedation, or choking 

However, these animals come in all varieties from small mice to large deer, including many other animals in between like rabbits, foxes, dogs, gophers, raccoons, and even birds. Not all of those will necessarily affect your plant, but depending on your local wildlife, you need to be wary of some animals more than others. 

How to Protect Your Cannabis Plants From Animals?

How to Protect Your Cannabis Plants From Animals?

If you are growing cannabis out in the open, you must take some steps to prevent animals so you don’t have to scramble to fix the problem when they arise. Instead, you can simply prevent animals from ever coming into your garden. 

Here are some general ways to prevent animals from intruding into your garden.

1. Set Up Physical Barriers 

A reliable method that works to prevent most animals from entering your garden is a physical barrier, which denies them access to your garden entirely. So, you can set up a sturdy fence a few feet high to keep big animals out.

Do note that physical barriers might not necessarily prevent small animals and rodents, like rats and moles, from entering your garden. Also, this can be an expensive investment, so you should install barriers if you are planning to use the same plot for multiple seasons. 

Here are some of the best options you have when it comes to setting up physical barriers:

  • Wire Mesh 

Wire mesh or chicken fence is a great way to keep small animals out of your garden while still ensuring maximum light and air penetration. And since this mesh is light and flexible, you can set it up the way you want around your plants. 

It is also recommended that you install the mesh a couple of feet underground to prevent animals like rabbits, moles, and gophers from burrowing into your garden.

  • Natural Barriers

If you are on a tight budget, you can use natural barriers like twigs and branches. Simply erect these barriers around your garden but make sure to find the thorniest or harshest barriers you can to deter most animals. This is also an excellent option if you want to keep your guerilla plant hidden from onlookers. 

  • Wooden Fences

If you’re growing cannabis in your backyard, consider adding wooden fences to your garden. Yes, this is an expensive option, but also the most effective when it comes to physical barriers.

Wooden fences keep out big animals like deer and foxes, so they are effective when paired with wire mesh.

2. Animal Repellants 

Another effective method to prevent animals from harming your cannabis plants is animal repellants, which can either be made at home or bought from stores. These are also perhaps the easiest way to deter animals from your garden.

All you need to do is prepare the solution and spray it either on the plant or the soil. Since most of these repellants exude a nasty odor or taste, it keeps the animals away. The only downside with these repellants is that you have to keep applying them every couple of weeks.

Here are some of the best animal repellants you can use to deter animals from your cannabis garden.

  • Hot Pepper Sauce

Animals don’t really have a knack for spicy food, so you can use spice to deter them. For this, you need the spiciest chili you can find in your region and simply blend it with water. Then, add a few drops of dish soap and shake the mixture well before applying it to your plant. 

  • Garlic Spray

Similar to chilies, garlic is also spicy for many animals and it also lets out an odor that drives most animals away. To make this spray, add a few crushed garlic cloves and some dish soap to water, mix well, and apply to your garden. 

  • Urine 

This is a little nasty one but it works wonders to deter many animals that have natural predators. Here, you either need to use human urine or get your hands on predator urine (like wolves) and spray it around your garden. Just be careful if you are collecting urine in the wild.

Urine has a strong odor that signals various animals that there is a predator present in the garden, so they steer clear of it. Sometimes, manure can work well too instead of urine.

  • Castor Oil

One of the most effective animal repellents, as you will learn later in the article, is castor oil. Add 10 ml of castor oil + dish soap in a 2:1 ratio to a liter of water and mix well. Then, spray this all over the soil in your garden to keep animals out, thanks to its strong smell.

Whichever animal deterrent you use, always ensure you do some research on what minerals they contain and apply it to your garden accordingly. For example, avoid using cat urine as it contains a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus, which can cause nutrient toxicity in your cannabis plants.

Additionally, if your cannabis plant is flowering, consider skipping this method. These mixtures are strong and can affect how your cannabis buds smell or taste, even if you don’t directly spray on them.

3. Physical Deterrents

If you are feeling creative or don’t mind spending a little more money, you can use physical deterrents, too. These deterrents work by scaring away the animals and are often quite effective. Here are a few examples.

  • Repellent Tape

This tape is made of reflective mylar, which can help you keep the birds away from your garden. As an alternative, you can also hang compact discs around your garden to mimic the same effect.

  • Fake Predators

Or you can place scarecrow-type fake predators around your garden, like owl statues, rubber snakes, or animal soft toys to keep other animals out of your garden. Do note that this isn’t the most effective method, but it gets the job done for a lot of growers around the world.

  • Ultrasonic Deterrents

This is an expensive device that you can place in your garden, which emits ultrasonic frequencies — that we can’t year — and can be used to scare away various animals.

4. Companion Plants

Companion planting is a part of permaculture, which aims to enrich your garden’s ecosystem by growing plants that help your cannabis plant grow better. And one of its most underrated benefits is that companion plants can help deter many animals

While this requires some planning on your part, it’s worth it. Some of the plants you should consider growing are garlic, onions, daffodils, caper spurge, wolfsbane, common sage, mint, and rosemary. 

How to Deal with Animals in Your Garden?

How to Deal with Animals in Your Garden?

The tips mentioned above are more generic in nature and help you prevent common cases of animal intrusions. But what if you have a specific animal wreaking havoc in your garden regularly? 

Here is a short guide on how to identify and deal with common animal intruders in your cannabis garden.

1. Rodents like Rats, Mice, and Squirrels

Rodents like mice, rats, and squirrels are a common nuisance in many cannabis gardens, even in urban environments. And these critters carry harmful pathogens and bacteria that are not only harmful to your garden but also to you and your pets. 

What makes these rodents so harmful to your plants is their gnawing habit, where they chew away the stems of your plants, which can cause serious damage and even cause diseases. And let’s not forget, they can also damage your home’s foundation and wiring. 

This problem is only made worse by their quick infestation — they reproduce fast and lay large litters — so their population can quickly turn from a few to a rodent village. 

  • Spotting Rodents in Your Cannabis Garden

Thankfully, it is easy to spot rodents in your garden. One of the first signs is droppings all over your garden along with damaged stems or branches in the lower tiers of your plant. Additionally, you might also hear a lot of scratching noises at night when the lights are off. 

If they have been around for a while, you will also smell a foul odor in your garden that is easy to recognize. We all know how nasty some rodents can smell. Also, pay attention to your cat — they will grow particularly interested in your garden if there are rodents around.

  • Dealing with Rodents

However easy they are to spot, dealing with rodents is not always straightforward. One of the first things you should do is set up rodent traps around your garden and keep checking them daily. If you find any trapped rodents, relocate them away from your garden. 

Additionally, you should also patrol your garden at night or let your pets roam the garden regularly to deter them. If possible, you can also cover your plant with chicken mesh to keep them out. But remember, a stubborn rodent will chew through that as well.

2. Moles and Gophers

Slightly bigger and rarer than rodents are moles and gophers — both these animals burrow underground and can severely damage the root system of your cannabis plants. Moles are a common nuisance globally but gophers are only present in North and Central America. 

Moles look like hamsters but have large paws and strong limbs, which allow them to dig underground. And they don’t bother much with your cannabis as they feed exclusively on small insects like earthworms. 

In fact, a few moles around your garden can be beneficial for your plant as they aerate the soil. But in severe cases, they can dig too close to the roots, making it difficult for your roots to absorb nutrients and water. 

On the other hand, gophers are always a threat to your cannabis as they feed on your plant’s roots while they dig tunnels and also forage the foliage when they are out of their tunnels. But since they are a solitary species, you are unlikely to find many of them in one garden.

  • Spotting Moles and Gophers

It’s difficult to spot moles with your eyes since they seldom come out from the ground, but you can look for other signs. If you find mounds of soil next to holes in your garden — also known as mole hills — it is likely due to moles.

On the other hand, you might find gophers hanging around in the shrubs easily. If not, you should take a closer look at the soil mounds. Gophers create mounds similar to molehills but they have a small dip in the center or on the side. 

  • Dealing with Gophers and Moles in a Cannabis Garden

You can deal with gophers and moles in largely the same way. To keep them out, you need to install a cylindrical metal mesh cage around your plant, a few feet deep undergrounds. This will keep a lot of the gophers and moles away from your plants. Just ensure the roots have enough space to expand. 

Additionally, you can set up mole traps within their tunnels, and keep checking them daily. If you find any moles or gophers trapped, relocate them to a safe environment. And if you don’t mind splurging, you can get yourself an electric sonar mole repeller that emits a low frequency that deters moles and gophers. 

Companion planting also works effectively to deter them. And one of the best plants for this is caper spurge — a biennial plant that secrets a compound through its roots that deters moles. 

If you’re dealing with a stubborn gopher, you can use castor oil or garlic infusion, as mentioned above, as they cannot tolerate the pungent odor of the mixtures. 

3. Rabbits

A long-distant relative of rodents, rabbits are adorable creatures but they can quickly disrupt your cannabis cultivation if left loose in your garden. They love to dig and while doing so, they can damage your plant’s roots. Plus, they feed on leaves, so they can also eat away your plant’s foliage quickly. 

  • Spotting Rabbits in Cannabis Gardens

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to spot rabbits wandering around in your garden. They are generally big enough to spot from a distance and you will also find tunnels with large openings along with disturbed soil if they have been burrowing in your garden. Rabbits also poop a lot, so another sign of rabbits in your garden is their spherical droppings. 

  • Dealing with Rabbits 

Rabbits are experts at breaking into gardens, so it can get a little tricky to deal with them in your cannabis garden. However, if you suspect one of them has found a liking to your cannabis plant, you can mesh cages to cover your plant and keep them out. 

It is also recommended that you set up cage traps to catch them, but don’t forget to relocate them far from your garden in a safe environment. 

4. Foxes

In some regions of the world, many gardeners face a threat from foxes, too. These omnivorous mammals don’t necessarily feed on plants, but they are notorious for trampling them or marking their territory with feces and urine. And foxes are particularly attracted to healthy soil that’s been fertilized with blood or bone meals or manure. 

  • Spotting Foxes in Your Garden

One of the most evident signs of foxes in your garden is trampled plants (especially the smaller ones), dug-up soil, and a distinct musky smell. Plus, foxes tend to urinate in the middle of the garden to mark their territory. If you find these signs, you likely have a fox problem.

  • Deterring Foxes in Your Cannabis Garden

Unlike other animals on the list, foxes are difficult to deal with. So, there are a few things you can do to deter them and hope for the best. 

The first is setting up fences around your garden. But foxes are smart and agile, so they can figure out how to get into your garden if they are determined enough. The next thing you can do is avoid using animal-based fertilizers like blood or bone meals as they  attract them. 

If you find foxholes in your garden, you should fill them up immediately to prevent them from making a permanent den there. 

Perhaps the most effective way to deter them — although expensive — is using an ultrasonic deterrent, which emits an ultrasonic sound that scares them away. It’s worth a try if you have a major fox problem in your cannabis garden. 

5. Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and skunks, while different species are quite similar to each other. Both are scavengers that prefer to eat meat but don’t mind chewing on plants occasionally, and both like to dig around the soil to search for insects. 

But they do have a few differences. Raccoons are popular for tearing up trash bags — no wonder they are called trash pandas. On the other hand, skunks tend to leave a nasty odor if disturbed by another animal. 

Both raccoons and skunks can damage your plant’s roots, chew away at the leaves, and trample them while scurrying about their business. 

  • Spotting Raccoons and Skunks

Some common signs of raccoons and skunks include scratching at the fences or trees, eating away parts of plants, torn trash bags or upturned trash cans, and tracks around the garden. 

However, if you find five-toed tracks, deep holes, and tube-shaped poop in your garden, it is likely due to raccoons. On the other hand, skunks leave shallow holes and a nasty odor. 

  • Dealing with Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and skunks can quickly make a mess of your garden, and you don’t want them hanging around your house. Especially skunks, thanks to their nasty odor. Thankfully, you can deter them with one method — castor oil.

Every couple of weeks, spray your garden’s topsoil with castor oil solution as mentioned earlier. Both these mammals have strong noses, so they will stay far from castor oil’s aroma. 

6. Deer

In some regions, especially rural ones, deer can be a nuisance. They are herbivore mammals and they love to feast on green vegetation, including your cannabis plants. And since they are a creature of habit, they keep coming back for more until they are dealt with. 

And while they generally avoid flowering cannabis plants due to their strong aroma, they do like feeding on vegetating cannabis, and even a single deer can eat away a lot of the branches in a single visit. 

  • Spotting Deer in Your Garden

Spotting deer is easy — you’ll find deer tracks around your garden along with deer droppings. If they have already fed on your plant, you will find large parts of your plant missing, including branches and stems. 

  • Dealing with Deer in Cannabis Gardens

Deer-proofing a garden is slightly expensive as they are large mammals that can jump distances. So, you would need to install posts, fences, or mesh wire around your garden that are at least eight feet tall. 

If they are not much of a nuisance but occasionally find their way into your garden, they can be deterred with a mixture of garlic, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. It is also recommended that you patrol your garden during twilight when they are most active. 

Summary: How to Protect Your Cannabis from Animals and Rodents?

Whether it’s a small mouse or a majestic deer, they must be kept away from your cannabis plant. You’re spending months tending to your plant so you can enjoy bountiful buds. But if any of these animals make their way into your garden, they can quickly turn your cannabis plant into mulch. 

So, use the methods listed above to identify and deter the common animals that can harm your cannabis plant. But whichever method you use, ensure you do not harm the animals or the local ecosystem.

Plus, if you are using animal traps, please make sure they are harmless traps that only confine the animals and do not hurt them. And if you trap any, be sure to relocate them. If you are unsure of how to relocate them, reach out to your local animal rescue or welfare organizations; they would be happy to help you out. 



Be the first to comment it