Critters can cause garden problems in winter

Snow has closed the garden from human traffic for the season. Hardier people will head out to prune but most will wait until the weather begins to warm in the spring. Either works well.

Snow has closed the garden from human traffic for the season.

Hardier people will head out to prune but most will wait until the weather begins to warm in the spring. Either works well.

Last year, the voles flourished under the snow crust, damaging many lawns, trees and shrubs. Damage might be avoided if the rodents are detected early. Look for tracks, trails and breathing holes in the snow.

If mice and voles are a problem, remove all tall grass and plant stocks close to vulnerable plants. Pack the snow around the plants that might be damaged by the rodents. Removing shelter and cover exposes the rodents to predators. As a result, they are likely to move to a safer location.

Rabbits also feed on young bark. The best way to deter them is to purchase a tree guard. The guard covers the stem and forms a barrier, not allowing animals to reach the bark.

It is much more difficult to protect yards from deer, moose and elk; especially if they are accustom to living in the proximity to humans.

Animals are creatures of habit. If they are used to eating native plants, they will search them out first. Ones that are accustomed to feeding on introduced plants will head into the garden.

The most effective method is to put a barrier between the animals and the food. Some methods such as deer fencing are effective and expensive. Others are a matter of time and effort.

Hang bird feeders high enough that the animals can’t reach them. Clean up the feed the birds drop on the ground.

Hanging mesh, chicken wire or a snow fence around the outside perimeter of the branches will stop the animals from being able to grab branches and pull. They will only be able to nibble on the end of branches. Choose the material used wisely as it will be part of the landscape for the next five or six months.

Wrap burlap around cedars to protect them from drying out and from the bottoms being devoured by deer.

Plants can also be protected by using deterrents. There are many homemade or purchased deterrents available to discourage ungulates and they all work for a while. Once the animals get used to the deterrent, it becomes ineffective. It is best to move or change deterrents regularly and not let the animals become comfortable in the garden.

Deterrents play to the animal’s sense of smell, taste, hearing or vision. Position all items at the correct height to be most effective. If a bitter or hot tasting spray is being used, spray it at the level where the animals are most comfortable eating.

When using a visual deterrent, place it so the animal sees it as it enters the garden. Once they begin eating, they are less likely to leave.

The following spray recipe originated from a member of the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources. Place the following into a blender and mix.

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons baking soda,

2 dashes Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce

Fill the blender with water and blend until all is smooth. Fill a spray bottle and coat the plants that are in danger of being eaten. To be effective, the spray needs to be reapplied regularly and after each rain or snow.

Now that the snow has fallen, it is easy to check for animal tracks and plan deterrents to protect the garden.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Art on Red Deer billboard a reminder of aboriginal women’s strength

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s image is part of Resilience Project, shown from coast to coast

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber falls to Bryce Harper in Home Run Derby final

WASHINGTON — Nationals Park was eerily quiet late Monday when Kyle Schwarber… Continue reading

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month