Tips for Keeping Your Yard Free of Deer and Rabbits

Keeping Deer off YardsTips for Keeping Your Yard Free of Deer and Rabbits

Who has not waited for their favorite shrub to start blooming, or those first tender shoots of grass to begin appearing in a newly seeded part of the yard, only to find that a deer, rabbit or other hungry critter has beaten them to the punch? North Carolina, natural paradise that our state is, is also a wonderland of friendly wildlife, including deer, rabbits, squirrels and other small herbivores whose destructive feeding habits are frustrating, to say the least, for even the most seasoned gardener. Keeping deer and rabbits out of the garden can certainly seem an impossible challenge at times, but it can be accomplished with a little bit of patience, planning and ingenuity.

Preventing Wildlife from Feasting on Your Garden

As adorable as they might be, the most obviously destructive wildlife in many of our neighborhood gardens are deer and rabbits. With populations that seem to be growing out of control in certain areas, these animals are everywhere, and as they’ve become increasingly adapted to living in suburban areas, their grazing habits have become more and more of a nuisance. Luckily, there are a variety of ways of keeping these small, hungry animals out of your garden: some more traditional, and others taking a less conventional approach. Keeping Deer off Yards 2

Deer and Rabbit Fencing

The only SURE way to keep wild animals out of a yard is to physically block them from entering the area. Specific types of fencing are effective at deterring both deer and rabbits.

The key to adequate deer fencing is building it strong enough and high enough to prevent deer from being able to jump it or knock it over.

  • An 8-foot tall or higher privacy fence will usually be enough to prevent even very hungry or frightened deer from leaping over it.
  • A double fence, regardless of the height of each section, is also a deterrent – since deer have poor depth perception, they will not tend to jump over a barrier if they are unsure how wide it is.
  • A slanted fence (tilted outward, at an angle) is intimidating to deer, who are unsure, once again, how tall or wide it might be.
  • Easy to install mesh or wire fencing is affordable and effective and available in a variety of materials.

Keeping Deer off Yards 3Rabbit fencing, on the other hand, is effective if it is at least 3’ high and buried into the ground to a certain depth that will prevent the rabbits from burrowing underneath. Many of the same materials that go into deer fencing are used to keep hungry bunnies out of a garden area.

Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants and Shrubs

Certain herbs, plants and trees with specific characteristics are natural deterrents of both deer and rabbits. Some of the most effective critter-resistant shrubs include –

  • Aromatic plants such as strong-smelling herbs – thyme, rosemary, garlic or basil – as well as tobacco, onions and marigolds.
  • Plants with fuzzy or rough-textured leaves, or ones with spines, such as Prickly Pear, lambs ear, flowering tobacco, and purple top vervain (Verbena bonariensis).
  • Plants with sap, such as milkweed, and other toxic flowers and shrubs like daffodils, indigo, poppies and monkshood.


Commercial, chemical-based deer and rabbit repellents are available at all home improvement stores and garden centers.

Out of the Box Solutions

Some of the less traditional methods of keeping deer and rabbit out of your garden include –  

  • Electronic deer repellent systems that work much as a house alarm does, by creating a loud sound or bright lights so disturbing to deer that they remain at bay.
  • Human hair, dog urine, bits of bar soap or coffee grounds spread around the garden area.
  • A dog! – deer are often scared off during their most common grazing times – sunrise and sunset – if there is a dog in the vicinity.
  • Environmentally friendly hot-pepper spray.
  • Netting placed over plants, vegetable gardens or flower beds.

Find out more –



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North Carolina’s Crucial Role in the Vote for American Independence

Vote for American IndependenceFew people are aware of North Carolina’s role in history as the American colonies contemplated dissolving the relationship between the 13 new territories and Great Britain in the late spring of 1776. It was on April 12th of that year that our state’s Provincial Congress was the first in the new colonies to authorize its delegates to vote for independence from the British Crown, paving the way for the Continental Congress to take further action toward seeking independence later that same year.

North Carolina’s Economy in the mid-1770s

Prior to 1776, the state of North Carolina – named in honor of Kings Charles I and Charles II of England – was a territory in which wealthy planters and merchants, the most powerful members of the colonial legislature, benefitted from strong ties with Great Britain. Manufactured goods imported from England were the basis of the North Carolina economy, and support of a firm relationship between Britain and this new state was strong until the time increasing taxation started putting a strain on that support.

Protesting Against British Authority: The Boston Tea Party of 1773

By 1773, anti-British sentiment in the new colonies was running strong, leading to the first major act of protest against British rule: the Boston Tea Party. 342 chests of British tea were ceremoniously dumped into Boston’s harbor, signaling an end to the silent acceptance of unfair taxes and regulations that England had begun imposing – the “taxation without representation” for which the incident is so famously known. Following this event and the subsequent closing of the port of Boston, leaders up and down the coast – including North Carolina’s rich tradespeople and farmers – began raising their own voices in protest. Vote for American Independence

The First of the Revolutionary Battles: The Battle of Bunker Hill

By the time the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775 in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, word had spread of the violence and citizens from North to South were drawn to the area. The newly formed Continental Army, a militia made up of thousands of protestors, went on to fight the red-coated British army at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Although the American patriots were defeated, casualties among the British were extremely high – one more signal to Great Britain that colonists were no longer going to silently accept unfair taxes and regulations.

North Carolina’s Own Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge

Early in 1776, the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge took place in North Carolina, which ended in the defeat of local loyalists – Americans who had remained loyal to the British Crown – and the effective end of British rule in the North Carolina colony. This resounding victory served to motivate colonists to further protest British rule, which led to the signing of what is known as the “Halifax Resolves” on April 12th. The first official act calling for an end to British rule, the entire delegation of 83 individuals unanimously signed the important document, which not only applied to the state’s own intentions of protesting British rule but also included recommendations aimed at all the colonies and their delegates meeting at Philadelphia’s Continental Congress. Virginia soon followed North Carolina’s example, issuing their own resolution on June 7th of 1776.

Independence Day, 1776

Vote for American IndependenceOn July 4th, 1776, following a year of war and conflict and continued opposition between many loyalists and newly independent colonists, Philadelphia’s Second Continental Congress signed into adoption the Declaration of Independence, marking the nation’s final official statement of independence from Great Britain and the British King, George III. Despite ongoing battles with the British following the signing, it is this historic date that we, as Americans, celebrate as the birthdate of our nation.

Halifax Celebrations

Each year on April 12th, the Halifax Historic District celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Halifax Reserves with a commemorative event – Halifax Day – at the town’s colonial courthouse on Market Street. All Americans, of course, go on to celebrate the signing of the nation’s Declaration of Independence just a few short months later, on July 4 of each year.

Learn more about the “Halifax Resolves” here –

To find out more about North Carolina’s Moores Creek Bridge, go here –



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North Carolina’s Own World-Class Motor Speedway

Nascar in North CarolinaFor over 50 years, North Carolina’s own Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, has attracted visitors and race fans from far and wide to its legendary 1.5-mile racetrack and NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Speedway’s 2,000 acre, world-class entertainment and motor sports complex, along with the newer, state-of-the-art Hall of Fame, generate an economic impact of over $450 million annually, hosting 3 major race events, dozens of smaller events, and tours of each that are suitable for racecar fans of all ages.

History of the Speedway

Once the location of a working plantation during the Civil War, the land on which the Speedway sits is steeped in history. Sixty years ago, current chairman and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee O. Bruton Smith designed the complex along with the late Curtis Turner, another Hall of Famer and one of stock car racing’s earliest stars. Smith, a car dealer at the time, was also a stock car racing promoter at Concord Motor Speedway while Turner, whose wealth came from success in the lumber industry, soon became one of the first NASCAR drivers on the new circuit. In June of 1960 the two legends’ dream of a developing a super 1.5 mile raceway came to fruition with the first running of the World 600 race in the new facility. Multiple other historic milestones soon followed:

1961:    The track falls into bankruptcy. Smith departs, then returns in 1975 as major stockholder in control of day-to-day operations. The facility continues to develop according to new industry standards, with thousands of new seats, luxury suites, and food concessions added over the following years.

1984:   Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes the only sports facility in the U.S. to feature condominiums alongside the race track, followed in 1988 by the construction of 7-story Smith Tower – a building that today contains the exclusive Speedway Club, corporate offices, ticket office and souvenir gift shop.

1992:   The innovative MUSCO Lighting system – a process using mirrors to simulate daylight – is installed. Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes the first racing facility to host night auto racing. Other improvements during this era included the addition of an industrial park, home to several racing-related businesses; the addition of a 2.25-mile road course and six-tenths-mile karting route; and a natural wildlife habitat.

2000:  The Dirt Track at Charlotte is completed – a clay oval facility hosting Dirt Late Models, Monster Trucks and the prestigious World of Outlaws World Finals.

2006:  The Speedway becomes host to its first world premier of a major motion picture: CARS, an animated Disney/Pixar blockbuster hit. Other films such as “Days of Thunder” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” are also filmed here.

2008:  Charlotte Motor Speedway completes construction of the Zmax Dragway, often called the world’s finest.

2011:    The Speedway’s Fan Zone, a paved, 10-acre area, is revamped with new merchandise tents, interactive games and displays and the kid-friend Play Zone and petting zoo. The world’s largest HDTV – over 200 feet wide and 165,000 pounds in weight – is installed along the backstretch of the famous track, offering large-scale visuals visible to fans seated along the front stretch.

2012:   A media center and corporate hospitality area are opened in the infield along with several elevated Pit Road Suites with some of the best racing and pit views in the industry.

2018:   The Speedway’s 17-turn ROVAL™ road course oval debuts in the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. One of NASCAR’s most difficult tracks, it features left- and right-hand twists and turns and a 45-foot change in elevation. It remains the only NASCAR course in which every turn is visible from the main seating area.  

Major Events and Entertainment

Nascar in North Carolina The 1.5-mile superspeedway plays host to multiple major events each year, including the upcoming Bank of America Roval™ 400 in September, the NHRA Carolina Nationals in October, and World of Outlaws World Finals in November. Other fun yearly events include the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout; the REV! WHITE! BOOM! Autograph Session and Fireworks; the Coca-Cola 600; the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event; and the year-round Racing School experiences, including the Richard Petty Driving Experience, NASCAR Racing Experience, Mario Andretti Racing Experience and more.

An impressive 300 days each calendar year are utilized for various events at the Speedway’s multiple attractions. Several of the nation’s largest swap meets and car shows also take place here – the bi-annual AutoFair, in April and September, the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals every October, and the Speedway’s light-themed Christmas show, in November and December.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame, attached to the downtown Charlotte Convention Center, is another facility gaining worldwide attention as the world’s only interactive attraction honoring the legacy of NASCAR, including past and present owners, drivers and crew members. Since opening in 2010, the venue has included artifacts, hands-on exhibitions, a theater, broadcast studio, restaurant and fan-focused gear shop.

Find out more about when, where and how to visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR Hall of fame, here –


Hiking NC, Mountains to Coast

North Carolina’s hiking system is extensive, and its renowned Mountains-to-Sea Trail (or MST) is well-maintained and scenic, attracting millions of residents and visitors alike to its over 1,175 miles of diverse, picture-perfect countryside each and every year. From Clingman’s Dome, high in the Smoky Mountains at the North Carolina/Tennessee border to the path’s official end-point of Jockey’s Ridge of the Outer Banks – the highest sand dunes in the state – the trail is broken down by segments of 36 – 90 miles in length, which vary in difficulty from Easy to Strenuous.

Trail Segments

Some of the more interesting of these hikes traverse southern regions of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Piedmont, Coastal Plain and Highlands ecosystems, as well as wildlife refuges and various historic towns and other areas throughout.

  • Segment 17: Down East North Carolina / 48 miles / Easy

Stretching from Morehead City to spectacular Cedar Island Ferry, this trail explores the Inner Banks, Croatan National Forest, Cedar Island national Wildlife Refuge and marshlands of eastern North Carolina. Several small fishing towns along the way including Smyrna, Davis, Stacy and Williston offer stunning views of the bays and wetlands of the area.

  • Segment 6: The Elkin Valley / 67 miles / Easy to Strenuous

This tranquil segment of the trail stretches from the hills of Pilot Mountain State Park to Devil’s Garden Overlook in Stone Mountain State park, the latter area being one of the most strenuous segments of the entire Mountain-to-Sea Trail. Here you’ll find waterfalls, trout streams, the 1,600-foot peak of Wells Knob and Surry County’s historic town of Rockford, with additional, optional excursions including a paddling route from Elkin to Pilot Mountain and Stone Mountain horse trails.

  • Segment 2: The Balsams / 61 miles / Strenuous

The remarkable changes in elevation within this unique segment mean some portions of the trail are steep, difficult and more remote than other areas. The trail itself, interestingly, only crosses a paved road 7 times along its length. Since almost the entire trail is on federally-owned land (Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and the Blue Ridge Parkway), little to none of this pristine area has been developed. Hikers enjoy views from Waterrock Knob, popular Skinny Dip Falls, and beautiful Graveyard Fields, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • Segment 11: Neuse River Greenways & the Let’Lones/ 65 miles / Easy

This relatively easy walk follows the Neuse River as it approaches Raleigh from Falls Lake Dam, past the city and on towards the Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, in the southeastern corner of Johnston County. The popular hiking route, lined with descriptive signs of local surroundings, including wildlife, crosses back and forth across the Neuse River several times and offers wonderful views of the entire floodplain. Since the entire route is paved, it’s also a great pathway to explore either by bike or by foot.

Get Involved

Officially a part of the State Parks System, specific stretches of the trail are maintained by different agencies, local governments and communities, land trusts, volunteers and private individuals. To get involved in or to provide a donation toward the effort to help take care of or continue expanding the historic route, contact the non-profit organization Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at any of the venues or events found here –

For more information on how to find the trail, what you’ll see along each segment, and how to prepare for your trail hike, visit either of the very informative sites below –



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Adding Some Warmth to Your Backyard or Patio

One of the most wonderful things about living in our state is the climate: an eternally blue sky, more sunny days, generally speaking, than not, and cool Carolina nights. We all enjoy spending time outdoors, and for some this includes hanging out with family and friends around an outdoor fireplace or firepit after the sun goes down – the perfect sort of relaxing end-of-day ritual.

Whether your dream outdoor fireplace is a traditional above-ground firepit or a more imposing stone fireplace with its own hearth, chimney and seating area, an ideal design is as much about adding a welcoming focal point to your back yard as it is about creating an actual source of warmth or light. An outdoor fireplace or firepit also allows us to enjoy our outdoor living areas for a longer period of each year than we may otherwise, giving a great reason to spend more time outside our homes in even the chillier fall and winter seasons.

The firepit or outdoor fireplace of your dreams

The options for an outdoor fire feature are truly endless and depend, for the most part, on budget, style of home and/or yard, space allocated for the outdoor firepit or fireplace, and amount of effort the homeowner is willing to put into maintaining and operating it.

A chiminea, affordable and portable, is a freestanding clay or metal fireplace with a round, bulbous base, a vertical chimney, or stack, and a large rectangular opening in front for adding wood. The chiminea creates a great deal of heat, and because of this, it is sometimes used not only for heating purposes, but for cooking as well. Due to its very vertical design, a chiminea is usually considered a much safer type of fireplace than a firepit, as smoke and fire are directed up and out in a more controlled burn than what a standard firepit can provide.

A traditional firepit, the most popular type of outdoor fireplace, is available in a variety of shapes, sizes and features.

The most common type of firepit is wood-burning and portable. The flickering light, crackling sounds and scent of smoke created by a wood-burning pit provide an ambience that is similar to that of a campfire, which, for most people, is the perfect addition to a warm summer or cool fall evening. The downside of a wood firepit is the fact that it must constantly be fueled with wood, cleaned and kept dry – chores some homeowners would rather forego in favor of a less labor-intensive firepit design.

Propane or natural gas firepits offer all the convenience and ease of use that a wood fireplace does not. Propane firepits, traditionally made of such materials as copper, faux wood, glass or stone, are portable and compact. Natural gas units require the addition of a permanent, natural gas line to your backyard or patio, but once a line is installed there is no chance, ever, that your firepit will run out of fuel. A propane or natural gas firepit is ideal for a homeowner who appreciates the convenience of being able to turn the pit on or off as necessary, and to transport it from place to place with ease.

An outdoor fireplace can add a dramatic focal point to a patio or backyard that otherwise might not be used to its full extent. The variety of designs for such a structure range from a more traditional, freestanding brick fireplace to an additional full-fledged outdoor area featuring fireplace, tables, chairs, kitchen and grilling area, and even artwork. Contemporary or rustic, simple or ornate, an outdoor fireplace can provide an interesting and inviting outdoor setting that not only provides heat but is perfect for entertaining and relaxation, too.

When all is said and done, the warmth and glow of a firepit or outdoor fireplace will provide enjoyment for most homeowners for years to come.

For some inspiring outdoor fireplace design ideas, check out –

The great debate: fireplace vs. firepit