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Furry Pests Damaging Your Landscape This Winter? Not A Chance!

Posted by Diana Hartman on September 30, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Fall is upon us and as we are busy preparing snow bids and pulling out this summer's gardens, we arrive at the best time of year to prevent winter damage to our lawns and gardens. I would like to share some tips that you can utilize to try and protect your landscape this winter.


However, first I would like to congratulate Jennifer G. for winning the Edible Landscape Giveaway! Next spring as we begin consultation and creation of an Edible Landscape Plan, I will share with you the process of before, during and after installation and we can share in the transformation of her front landscape. How exciting! We can share in her discovery of a beautiful, lush landscape that produces the edibles of her choosing.


So, I have a riddle for you...


Who fits in your hand, is brown to gray, furry, pudgy with a short little tail and short little legs and is, in my son's eyes, absolutely adorable?


                   

A Meadow Mouse.


Another one...


Who can reproduce from 1 to 500 within a year and can severely damage your lawn over the winter by moving under protection of the snow especially where grasses are taller and thicker?


                   

A Vole.


I am sorry to report that a Meadow Mouse and a Vole are one and the same. I've also heard them called other names consisting of less respectful four letter words.


Well, whether you classify them as cute or pests, let's try to keep them out of our lawns and away from our trees, bushes and flowers as they will quickly destroy them! If you're lucky, the paths these furry little culprits create will only run from one burrow opening to another wreaking havoc on your lawn. Unfortunately, some of the trails probably lead to some of your favorite trees and plants as well. The damage caused by these creatures gnawing at the bark or on the roots will kill these plants and trees. Heaviest vole damage seems to coincide with years of heavy snowfall and therefore, we heard quite a bit regarding vole damage last spring as the snow melted away and revealed badly damaged lawns. This has prompted me to post a little information regarding what we can do to proactively deter these animals.


These little voles are active year round, but the most damage occurs when the snow is covering the lawn fairly deeply. And there-in lies the problem...with the snow blanket, we are totally unaware of the big party these little critters are having under what appears to be untouched snow. Therefore, let's try to proactively prevent trouble before the snow arrives.


• Your first line of defense is to keep the rodents out of your yard. Put your lawn to bed by mowing it short and then apply products like Fertilome Mole-Go or Shake Away Rodent Repellent. These are non-toxic, organic granular repellents, not poisons. They are harmless to people and pets as they consist mostly of predator urine. Mole-Go is also available in a liquid that is sprayed on with a garden hose. You can also create your own smell-aversion deterrents using essential spearmint or peppermint oils, castor oil, Bounce fabric softeners sheets, ammonia and/or commercially purchased fox, coyote and bobcat urine products.


• Barrier methods consist of using wire mesh, fencing and underground cages for your protecting your bulbs and roots of trees. This is definitely a more labor intensive route, but is very effective. Tree guards can be installed around the bases of trees that are suffering from the bark being gnawed. This is something we can do for you at little charge. These methods are also very safe for pets and children.


• If these creatures have already established residence on your property, you may have to trap the voles to remove them. There are varieties of traps that can be used to catch and remove the animals or Alpine Lawn Care has had great success with PVC traps they build and set which trap and poison the critters. You can reach Alpine Lawn Care at 582-1234.


 

For further information, check the websites I've listed below. The first one listed is a very informative PDF document provided by the Montana Dept of Agriculture.  The following links will give you even more useful information to help you protect your landscape this winter.


http://agr.mt.gov/agr/Producer/VertebratePest/Bulletins/pdf/VolesInMontana.pdf


http://coopext.colostate.edu/Adams/ag/vole.htm


http://blog.tcgardens.com/?p=319


http://www.ehow.com/about_6306915_natural-mole-vole-repellent.html


 

 

Well, as I sign off, I thank you all for a super Summer season and am excited to see you again in the Spring! Please enjoy our beautiful Montana Fall and Winter seasons to come and be sure and protect those luscious landscapes from those darling, furry little critters! They are kind of cute when they're not destroying our lawns and gardens, right?!?!

 

 

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