Tag Archives: backyard garden

Pros and Cons of Gardening with Ducks

Animals are part of any natural ecosystem. Adding small livestock to your garden can provide a host of benefits. One great option is ducks. However, there are pros and cons to adding ducks to your garden.


They’re great at slug patrol.

Having a couple ducks roam through your garden is one of the easiest ways to deal with your slug problem. They love slugs! They’ll happily wander around keeping your plants or mushrooms slug-free. They’ll also eat a host of other pests. 

They don’t scratch like chickens.

Unlike chickens, ducks don’t scratch to forage for food. While chickens are helpful to turn over a plot after or before the growing season they can be destructive to plants in the garden. Their vigorous efforts tear up roots and shorter plants. Ducks on the other hand simply plod flat-footed through the garden. They’re generally not destructive. However, they may eat or trample seedlings and some greens. 

They provide fertility.

Ducks obviously produce manure which is an excellent source of fertility for the garden. If they’re allowed to roam the garden during the day they’ll add fertilizer as they go. Ducks should be kept in a coop at night and you can compost the manure/bedding from their coop.

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They need a water source.

Ducks need a water source big enough for them to bath in. It helps keep their feathers in good condition. Muscovy ducks, native to South America, need less water than other breeds but still benefit from being able to bath.

They’re noisy.

I’ve heard some people claim that ducks are a quiet alternative to chickens but in my experience it isn’t true. Ducks quacking can rival a rooster’s crow. They may not be a great choice if you have close neighbors who wouldn’t appreciate barnyard noise.

They need a coop, space, and other care.

Ducks aren’t free. You’ll need to build or buy a sturdy coop, predator proof coop as well as feed. You’ll also need to care for them at least twice a day all year round which can make it tougher to leave for family vacations. The more space you can offer them to roam the happier they’ll be/

They can be destructive. 

They’ll dabble in wet areas adding to any mud problems you may have. As mentioned above they can also destroy small plants and won’t hesitate to sample your lettuce!

If you decide to add ducks to your garden system consider the pros and cons. They can be very helpful and rewarding but they still require money, time, and patience. 


10 Tips for Beginner Gardeners

Starting your first garden can be overwhelming. There are so many decisions to make like location, varieties, and even what tools to purchase. There’s plenty to learn and do. Any gardening book will dive into planting dates, pests, garden amenments and more. Starting with these 10 tips can help get you on track for a great first season.

Have your soil tested.

Learning as much about your soil as possible can help ensure your garden is a success. You’ll be able to add appropriate amendments and avoid wasting time and money. It can also help you select varieties. For example, carrot varieties like Chatenay Red Core Carrots perform better in heavy clay soils because they are short and have blunt ends.

Understanding Soil Tests

Amend your soil as needed.

Once you’ve tested your soil and had a look at your results it’s time to amend your soil. Certain amendments like lime or fertilizer should only be added if your soil test indicates a real need. Lime is used raise the soil’s pH. Raising it too much can make certain nutrients inaccessible to plants. Adding too much fertilizer can also be detrimental and can run off causing toxic algal blooms in your local watershed. A safe place to start is adding organic matter in the form of good quality compost. It can provide a variety of nutirents, help sandy soils hold moisture, and help heavy clay soils drain better. If you’re on a tight budget check out our post for free amendment ideas.

Choose a gardening style that works best for you.

In a recent post, we discussed the pros and cons of raised beds. While they’ve become very popular they may not be the best choice for everyone. The same goes for no-till gardening, hugelkultur beds, container gardening, and other gardening styles. Start with what’s easiest for you and experiement from there.

Start composting.

Every home should have a compost bin! Composting creates free soil for your garden and helps reduce waste. Apartment dwellers should check out vermicomposting as a small space alternative to an outdoor compost pile.

Use mulch.

Mulch helps to hold moisture, supress weeds, add organic matter, creates habitat for beneficial insects, and can even help prevent certain plant diseases. We have a number of articles about different types of mulch on the blog.

Learn about crop rotation and cover crops.

Crop rotation is key to a healthy garden. Never plant the same type of plants in the same place two years in a row. Cover crops can be used with crop rotation to decrease pest and disease pressure, reduce erosion, and add nutrients to your soil.

Start small.

It’s common advice and worth heading. You’ll get more from a well maintained small garden than a poorly cared for larger one. It can be really tough to narrow down which varieties to choose but it’s worth it. Add one or two varieties and increase your garden size a bit each year.

Consider your water source.

Lugging watering cans around is time consuming and exhausting. Put your garden as close to a water source as possible. If you can, invest in some hoses and a sprinkler or drip irrigation.

Choose varieties appropriate to your area.

When selecting your seeds and plants be sure to read carefully. For example, folks that live in zones farther north should look for varieties that mature quickly and folks in the far south should consider more heat tolerant varieties.

Knowing your hardiness zone can help you select appropriate varieties. For information about hardiness zones visit our post, Everything You Need to Know About Plant Hardiness Zones to learn more.

Start your own transplants from seed.

Starting your own transplants ensures you get the varieties you want and those that are well-suited to your area. It’s not as hard as you think. Check out Pam Dawling’s advice for starting seeds here on the blog.

Starting a garden is an incredibly rewarding experience but it can be tough. Use these tips for your first garden to make sure your garden is a success.

Dealing with Deer: Tips for Keeping Them Out of Your Garden

Deer are beautiful and amazing creatures that play a valuable role in our ecosystem. While it’s important to realize that we share this habitat with deer and many other creatures, it can still be incredibly frustrating to have them feasting on your hard work. If you haven’t invested in one of the buck feeder from feedthatgame.com then you may want to use one of these tactics to keep deer our of your garden.


Fencing is probably the best solution for keeping your plants safe from deer but it does come with a number of drawbacks. Fencing that is adequate and effective can be costly and time-consuming to install. It can also be unattractive which is a larger concern if you live in a neighborhood or more populated area. Add curb appeal and safety to your home with fencing from Rocky Mountain Forest Products. Home Depot fencing, while competitive in pricing, may not contain the same level of quality that Rocky Mountain Forest Products can offer.

Electric fencing is a good choice but it isn’t allowed everywhere and may be impractical for some gardeners. Another option is fencing that deer can’t see through. As a prey species, they’re hesitant to jump into an area if they can’t see what lies within. For the same reason, double fences (two rows of fencing) are often effective. Deer won’t risk being trapped in between fencing even if they can jump that height. You can use more attractive fencing for the outer layer and cheaper fencing like chicken wire for the inner part.  

Many people use the “invisible” thin black plastic deer netting and find it cheap and effective. Unfortunately, this netting creates quite a bit of waste because it is plastic and isn’t made with longterm durability in mind. It can also be extremely harmful to other animals including birds, small mammals, snakes, and other amphibians which can become trapped or entangled in it while trying to move through your garden. Check out this ultimate guide about morphs for ball pythons and how to use them.

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In some cases, sprinklers on motion sensors have proven to be effective at scaring deer out of the garden. Not all sprinklers are created equal though, so be sure to check reviews and look for one with a strong, spray that will reach the edges of your garden.

Deer Repellent

Many companies offer deer repellent sprays that can be effective at keeping deer from eating your plants. Unfortunately, they don’t work long term and will need to re-applied many times throughout the season especially if it rains or your use overhead watering. It’s also worth noting that most of the effective ones are egg-based and you can create your own at home with eggs, water, and a spray bottle.

Deer Resistant Crops

If you cannot add fencing or other deer deterrents to your yard whether you’re dealing with an HOA or local zoning laws or simply because of time or financial constraints there are some “deer-resistant” plants you should be able to grow without too much trouble.


  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Rhubarb
  • Eggplant
  • Artichoke


  • Lemon Balm
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Catnip
  • Anise Hyssop


  • Poppies
  • Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Yarrow
  • Calendula
  • Coneflower (Echinacea)
  • Daffodils
  • Bee Balm
  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Zinnias

Some plants will also yield decent harvests when grown in containers on a porch or patio where a small bit of fencing can easily keep them out of deer’s reach. Try growing lettuce, cherry tomatoes, peppers, or swiss chard in pots.

Every gardener faces their own set of challenges. If keeping the deer from eating all your plants has been a problem for you in past years implementing a couple of these ideas can help protect your garden this year.

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