You’ve planted your beans, your peppers, your lettuce and tomatoes.

And then they come. The critters.

WANE-TV asked gardening expert Ricky Kemery what he does to keep vegetables and tasty flowers away from rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs and deer and it’s rather simple.

Ricky Kemery, Purdue Horticulture Extension Educator, Retired, says the best way to keep rabbits and other creatures from your vegetable garden, young trees and shrubs is to put fencing around them. Other options really don’t work.

Fence your produce in and fence the unwanted guests out.

“I always say that if one puts in a vegetable garden with no fencing, it is like opening a fast food restaurant for critters in the neighborhood,” Kemery said recently, sitting in his backyard full of fencing options.

And it’s only going to get worse, he says, with shrinking habitats.

Inexpensive plastic mesh, that comes in garden green, does the trick, secured around posts. So do raised garden beds that can be put together with PVC or a 2 by 2 frame “with mesh or hardware cloth to let air and sunlight in and critters out,” Kemery said.

Kemery advises against investing in trendy gadgets that emit noise. Nor is he a fan of taste repellents, ultrasonic devices or voodoo style potions you might find on the internet.

“They’re going to eat it anyway,” said Kemery. “There’s no magic bullet.”

One of the best methods is to create a 4-foot high solid enclosure with a foot more buried in the ground that will keep most critters out, he said.

Some flowers like these false sunflowers are also irresistible to garden critters so it’s best to protect them with some plastic garden mesh.

Not that taste repellents, like garlic or pepper, can’t help in the short term,” Kemery said. “But if a critter is really hungry, they are ineffective. “

Commerical repellants such as Deer Away and Hinder can be effective sometimes, but need reapplication. On the whole, they are not reliably effective.

“Sonice sound devices, owl statues, etc are ineffective,” Kemery says.

In his garden, he has examples of critter “exclusion.” Green plastic mesh that is fairly inexpensive can be found at big box and hardware stores for as little as $20 for 25 feet and can be cut with a pair of good scissors. Hardware cloth is pricier and needs to be cut with wire cutters.

Either one can be wrapped around posts in a raised bed to keep the vegetable garden safe, Kemery said.

Potted peppers sit a couple of feet off the ground, making it more difficult for rabbits and other garden pests to eat them.

There is also a device called The Scarecrow that emits water when an animal comes near. The device which has a motion sensor is attached to a garden hose, Kemery said.

Rabbits are responsible for most of the garden devastation here. Chasing bunnies as did Mr. McGregor in the fictional Peter Rabbit books would most likely be as ineffective as taste repellants.

Rabbits don’t just like lettuce and carrots, says Kemery, they will also eat the bark off young fruit trees and other shrubs.

Fencing at the bottom of little trees will help, too, he said.