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2389 S. Highway 33, Driggs, ID
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08 Apr 2019

Vole Damage in Lawns: what can I do?

The winter snowpack is melting and we are left with a mess covering our lawns. Voles have enjoyed had a nice long winter under a protective snow layer. Tunnels, dirt piles, grass clippings and droppings are all unsightly remains of vole damage. Voles do not hibernate but are active year-round, living between the soil surface and snow during the winter. They feed on bark, roots and grass. The damage has been done, now what?

Control the population:
There is no magic bullet here, but a combination of tactics seems work the best.
-Traps: Cheap and very effective, simple mouse traps placed perpendicular to active tunnels can do a lot to control the population. They work well without bait as the voles are habituated to run along their tunnels. Keep trapping (and emptying your traps-yuck!) until you notice fewer voles being caught.
-Habitat Reduction: Mow tall grasses or weedy areas in the fall. These areas are perfect cover for voles.
-Baits: A few are available to the homeowner. Always follow instructions carefully and be cautious when using in areas with kids or pets.
-Repellents: There are many commercially available repellents with varying formulas. They can be helpful, but need to be applied in intervals. Be sure to do a final application late fall for a longer effect through the winter.

Fix the damage:
It may be overwhelming at first, but lawns and grassy areas can bounce back from vole damage quite well. Once the snow has melted and the damaged area is no longer sodden, begin with raking up dead grass. Tamp down any raised dirt tunneling and reseed bare dirt with a lawn mix. Feed with lawn food and keep any newly-seeded areas damp. As the days lengthen and warm, existing grass will spread into damaged areas and new seed will germinate.

Vole populations are always changing. Natural predators such as hawks, skunks, foxes and owls are our allies against voles. Domestic dogs and cats can also help control vole populations. Our beautiful western landscape with its fields and meadows is home to voles. They will continue to be the bane of the rural homeowner and gardener, but it’s better than living in the city, right?

20 Sep 2017

Protecting your Landscape from Big Game Damage

Protecting your Landscape from Big Game Damage

Throughout our region we are fortunate enough to encounter all kinds of wildlife. They inhabited this area first and we over took their migration paths and feeding grounds. As majestic as they are, moose, elk, deer and even buffalo can wreak havoc on newly planted and established landscapes. Big game animals tend to be in our neighborhoods in the fall, winter and spring. As the snow melts, they return to higher elevations for the summer months.
There are a few strategies to deter wildlife from our landscapes. Use these strategies alone or in combination to protect your valuable landscape from big game damage.

Use Wildlife-Resistant Plants:
No plant is ‘wildlife-proof’. If animals are starving, they will eat anything available. However, some plants tend to be less palatable to wildlife. If your home is in an area frequented by wildlife, avoid disappointment by choosing these plants:
• Spruce
• Buffaloberry
• Cotoneaster
• Juniper
• Lilac
• Potentilla
• Serviceberry
• Spirea
• Viburnum
• Hawthorne

Apples, crabapples, birch, willow, roses and dogwood are best avoided as these are preferred by wildlife.
For a complete list, click here: http://dev.mdlandscapinginc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GardeningAroundDeer.pdf

Repellents:
Commercially made repellants such as Plantskydd™ are effective when applied as directed. Apply repellants at intervals throughout season for best results.

Scare Tactics:
Wildlife don’t like unfamiliar sounds, lights or movement. Lights on motion sensors or a well-trained barking dog can be helpful.

Predator Urine:
This is a natural way of keeping wildlife out of your yard. A few drops in placed in strategic areas around your property can keep game out for 1-3 weeks. Animals eventually get used to the scent and other tactics need to be used at this point. Available from predatorpee.com.

Wildlife Fencing:
A physical barrier has proved time and time again to be the most reliable way to keep big game away from your plants. Fence off individual trees, groups of trees or entire properties.

Dealing with wildlife can be tricky.  On one hand you want to protect the investment of your landscape while being as respectful to nature as possible. Being flexible and ready to use multiple strategies is often the best approach to dealing with wildlife on your property.