Winter can be a very difficult time for wildlife, with plummeting temperatures and scarce food. Reduce the risk of garden damage by starting in fall to protect your landscape from them this winter.
Squirrels, rodents, rabbits and deer will wander into your yard in search of shrubs and nuts to eat. Wildlife do have a variety of strategies that improve their ability to withstand the cold, making sure they live to see another spring. But it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your garden. Here’s how to protect your landscaping from being ruined by wildlife this winter:
- Take a walk around your property to evaluate plants and plantings for their susceptibility to animal damage. Look for pathways that animals use to access your landscape and areas of potential damage. Note new plantings, animal favorites and those special plantings you would hate to lose. Make sure these are protected.
- Check mulch around trees and shrubs. Deep layers of mulch, and mulch piled around the trunks of trees and shrubs provide shelter for mice and voles. These rodents like to gnaw on the bark of trees and shrubs in winter. Pull mulch away from tree trunks and shrub stems, and spread out mulch so it is only two to four inches deep.
- Protect young trees and shrubs with a four-foot-tall fence of hardware cloth sunk several inches into the ground to prevent vole damage at ground level and most rabbit damage. Mature trees are usually only bothered during years where the vole and rabbit populations are high and food is scarce.
- Fencing around garden beds filled with animal favorites is another option. Make sure your fence is high enough, tight to the ground and securely gated. You will need a four-foot-high fence for rabbits and at least five- to six-foot-high fence to keep deer out of small gardens. A fence of several strands of fishing line has proven to be successful for some gardeners.
- Repellents are another less-obtrusive option. These use smell or taste to discourage animals from dining in your landscape. Check the label to see if the repellent works on the animals and rodents you are trying to manage. Apply repellents before animals start feeding for best results, then reapply as recommended on the label. Look for one that is rain- and snow-resistant, lasting up to six months on dormant plants over the winter so you will need to apply it less often.
- Scare tactics may be effective depending on where you live. In urban and suburban areas, animals are used to human scents and sounds. Gardeners often hang old CDs and shiny ribbons in tree branches to scare hungry animals. If you opt for scare tactics, be sure to employ a variety of options and change their location to increase your chance of success.
- Constantly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the methods used and check all plantings for damage. When animal populations are high and hungry, they will eat just about anything. Be willing to change things up if one method is not working. Using multiple tactics will help increase your level of success.
Protect your landscape from hungry deer, rabbits and voles this winter. Start preparing in fall before their winter dining habits begin. If you are vigilant and persistent, you can coexist with these creatures and still have a beautiful landscape come spring.
Hungry rodents and squirrels causing a problem for you? Time to arrange a visit from your pest control specialist for a free evaluation.