Keep pests from be­com­ing a real prob­lem

The Labradorian - - Editorial - Car­son Arthur Out­door de­sign and life­style ex­pert Car­son Arthur has be­come the voice of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly land­scape de­sign and loves to help peo­ple max­i­mize their out­door spa­ces.

It’s that time of year when squir­rels and rab­bits start to re­ally be­come a nui­sance (not that they weren’t all sum­mer long). Au­tumn is when these pesky lit­tle ro­dents go into over­drive in their need to store food for the win­ter, which in­cludes vis­its to your gar­den — and of­ten into your house.

This also hap­pens to be the time of year when we start plant­ing spring flow­er­ing bulbs, specif­i­cally tulips. Here are my favourite ways to de­ter these pests from be­com­ing a real prob­lem.

Avoid the pep­pers. For years I have been try­ing to get home­own­ers to stop us­ing home brews made with cayenne or pa­prika be­cause it re­ally causes a lot of pain to the lo­cal ro­dent pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing chip­munks.

As I gar­dener, I com­pletely un­der­stand the anger that many of you feel from the dam­age that has been caused by these an­i­mals, and some­times get­ting re­venge on them seems like a good idea.

Pep­per-based prod­ucts will burn the mouths of mam­mals but also of­ten get into their eyes, caus­ing long-term harm to them. In­stead of the pow­ders or the liq­uids, use the red pep­per flakes. These work the same way for de­ter­ring squir­rels and bun­nies, but they are much safer and last longer in the gar­den with the fall rains. When plant­ing bulbs, add a lib­eral hand­ful of chili flakes to the top of the soil.

Use cof­fee. An­other of my favourite so­lu­tions in­volves my morn­ing brew. Cof­fee works well for me ev­ery­day, but most ro­dents hate the smell of java. Start sav­ing the used cof­fee grounds and work them into the soil as you plant your bulbs.

The cof­fee grounds are great for the plants too as they add a lit­tle acidic punch to the nu­tri­ents al­ready there. Blue­ber­ries and hy­drangea are par­tic­u­larly fond of a good acidic soil. Just be care­ful not to over­due it around your irises and hon­ey­suck­les.

Try mint. Mint is an­other one of those plants that if you’ve got it in your gar­den, you prob­a­bly have lots of it at this time of year.

Ro­dents don’t like mint. In fact, dry­ing mint and put­ting in ar­eas where there have been a lot of mouse ac­tiv­ity has been one of those home reme­dies that my grandma swears by. Sadly, it doesn’t re­ally work ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts. What does work how­ever, is when you add mint to a pot of boil­ing wa­ter with sev­eral cloves of gar­lic.

This mix­ture is a sim­ple so­lu­tion to spray on plants or on the soil around your bulbs to cover the scent of what the squir­rels like to eat.

Here is the recipe:


1-2 bunches of spearmint or pep­per­mint (stalks and leaves)

12 gar­lic heads 2 litres of wa­ter


Boil for 30 min­utes

Cool and use a strainer to re­move de­bris from the liq­uid Add 2 tbsp of dish de­ter­gent Spray di­rectly in ar­eas with ro­dent dam­age

Re­peat after each rain un­til squir­rels stop vis­it­ing that area.

Au­tumn is when pesky lit­tle ro­dents go into over­drive in their need to store food for the win­ter, which in­cludes vis­its to your gar­den — and of­ten into your house.

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