Happy Groundhog Day!
What, you’re not celebrating? You don’t like groundhogs in your yard? How about raccoons, opossums, moles, gophers and chipmunks? Did we just hear somebody out there in cyberland call God’s creatures “varmints?”
Okay. We hear this a lot. Even if groundhogs have their own holiday, most homeowners aren’t inviting them to the barbecue. Here’s how you can effectively and humanely exclude these little critters from your yard.
Meet the L-Footer
The Humane Society of the United States recommends creating an underground barrier called an L-footer. If possible, you want to bury the L-shaped footer about 12 inches deep. But if you’re working with rocky soil or other obstructions, you can lay it on the surface and cover it with mulch or soil. As you can imagine, the L-shape will frustrate varmints as whether they try to go straight or down, they’ll be flummoxed by your footer. Galvanized or plastic coated two-inch wire mesh is good for resisting the weather, and should exclude rabbits, woodchucks and opossums. If your varmints are smaller, use one-by-one inch mesh.
Don’t make an accidental trap
When planting your L-footer, be sure you’re not accidentally trapping animals or dividing families. Even if they’re varmints, it’s cruel to separate a mother and her babies. And you need to know a little about your unwanted guests. Groundhogs — as you probably know from the holiday and the hoopla about coming out and looking for a shadow – hibernate. If you’re planting an L-footer to keep varmints from underneath your porch, you could be sealing groundhogs into an under-porch tomb. Which will be cruel and smelly come springtime.
Don’t tempt them
Some critters are very visual. If they can see what’s in your garden, they’ll be extra-motivated to invade your yard. A solid fence helps keep your tempting vegetable garden private.
Tidying up the yard can cut down on pillaging varmints. Don’t leave fallen fruit under your pear or apple trees. Shut the compost and recycling bins tight. You can also try repellents, such as nasty concoctions of egg, fox urine, garlic oil and dried blood found at nurseries. No, we didn’t make that up. Of course, this will repel you and your guests, too, so don’t spread it near your patio or barbecue area. And keep an eye on Fido. This is just the kind of cologne many dogs favor.
A more pleasant deterrent, at least for us humans, is the narcissus bulb. Deer, gophers and rabbits are all said to dislike the smell of plants in this family, including jonquils, daffodils and paperwhites. We recommend trying this first, before the blood and fox urine.
We’re not sure this works, but we’ve also heard that dropping some dog fur down gopher tunnels is very disturbing to the little critters. If so, it’s a win-win. Spot gets groomed, and your gophers go house-hunting for a new residence.
Still have questions about keeping varmints out of your yard? We’re happy to advise, or to help you figure out the best fencing situation for your yard. Give us a call today.