How can I keep raccoons away from my apple tree?
I live in the Seattle general area. I have a tiny mini-dwarf Fuji apple tree. It's almost like a big bush. It can't be more than about 4.5' tall and some of the branches are almost to the ground.
A few feet away is a chain link fence at the back of my property, and beyond that is a greenbelt and raccoons live out there. Last year they climbed over the fence when I was sleeping late at night and stole every single apple off my tree the exact night before I was going to pick them all.
If I fenced the tree in, it would need to have a lid on the fence and that is prohibitively expensive, not to mention it would spoil the looks of my yard. They could chew right through any netting I can imagine. Metal or wire around the trunk wouldn't work as they can reach the branches from the ground and could probably jump to the top from the fence too. The trunk is very short, maybe 2+' tall.
Right now it's loaded with blossoms and bees and it looks like it's going to be a bumper crop this fall. That tree can put out an amazing amount of fruit, I mean bags and bags.
Is there anything I can do to discourage those darn raccoons?