Author: Paul Wells

Gardening Rabbit Deterrents

Rabbits are adorable – unless they’re wreaking havoc with your gardening, in which case you’ll find yourself searching for the most effective rabbit deterrents available. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to discourage these whiskered pests from destroying your landscaping.

Rabbits can be quite bold when it comes to foraging in your yard for goodies – they’ll even come onto your deck or patio to attack container plants! The classic method of defending your greens is to attack the rabbits’ sense of smell. Gather together small collections of human, dog or cat hair and place the hair in small cloth bags. If you scatter these among your flower and vegetable beds, the bunnies will get a whiff and choose to do their munching elsewhere.

There are also a number of odiferous plants that work as gardening rabbit deterrents. Garlic and onions are anathemas to rabbits, but you’ll have the pleasure of home-grown produce as an added bonus. Aromatic plants like lavender and catnip will discourage rabbits, as will marigolds.

Some gardeners swear by bacon grease as a rabbit deterrent and say that pouring it around the perimeter of your garden will keep them from entering the no-rabbit zone.

Ferret droppings are another tried-and-true rabbit deterrent, and it works for moles, too. Ferrets are closely related to badgers – small animals will instinctively avoid tangling with badgers and run for the hills if they think any are around. If you’re not interested in getting a ferret for a pet, you can ask a friendly ferret owner or your local pet store to save some for you and then sprinkle the droppings around your plants. If you have a strong stomach, you can pour the ferret droppings into a bucket and mix them with water to make a paste to smear around the borders of your garden.

Another popular solution is to fill several gallon-size glass bottles with water and set them around the garden. Rabbits will be startled by the sunlight glinting off the glass and run away – a far less smelling gardening project than spreading animal droppings, but still an effective rabbit deterrent.

Learn About Herb Gardening

Fresh herbs fetch premium prices at better supermarkets, but they’re right within reach if you learn about herb gardening. It’s a fun, inexpensive hobby, and you’ll have fresh herbs to liven up your cooking year ’round.

There are literally hundreds of books that lay out the basics, even “Herb Gardening for Dummies,” but those really aren’t necessary to get started. It’s simple for even the most brown-thumbed gardener to grow herbs.

In the garden, a bed devoted to herbs is both attractive and practical. First, make a list of herbs you like and would like to have in the kitchen. Basil is popular, and a perfect compliment to tomatoes in the summer. Oregano is a necessity in any Italian dish. A sprig of rosemary makes a simple roast chicken something special, and it’s a beautiful, fragrant addition to your garden. One benefit to learning about herb gardening is that it could expand your cooking repertoire!

Most herbs grow best in full sun and need soil with plenty of drainages. Prepare your herb bed by removing sod, rocks, and weeds. If weeds have been a habitual problem in this part of your garden, lay a layer of black plastic sheeting over the area for two weeks – this will kill any germinating weeds in the soil. Use a good. Low-nitrogen fertilizer to prepare the bed (a 5-10-5 mixture is your best bet) and then get out your seeds.

As you learn about herb gardening, you’ll discover a number of plants that you want to try.  Thyme is a pretty plant and a good all-around kitchen herb. Many gardener use thyme along with the borders of their gardens. When planting perennials like oregano, sage, and tarragon, keep their permanent nature in mind when considering placement – you won’t want them in the way when replanting seasonal herbs next year.

Make a space for annuals like basil, coriander, and summer savory, and replant them each year. But make sure you don’t plant mint in the bed with the other herbs in your garden– it’s highly invasive and will spread anywhere that it can. If you like mint, try planting it in separate containers, where it can’t migrate to every part of your garden.

Near your front of back door, leave a spot for lavender. These gorgeous plants not only look lovely but smell wonderful, too. Once you learn about herb gardening, you may find you also want to learn about flower arranging, making sachets and potpourri and drying your herbs to give as gifts.

Steep Slope Gardening

Not everyone is blessed with a perfectly flat plot of land in which to garden, and steep slope gardening brings with it a number of special challenges.

“Steep slopes” are defined as slopes rising at an angle greater than 20 percent, and are far less stable – and tougher to maintain – than gentler garden slopes. Mowing can be difficult, if not downright dangerous, and rain can cause soil erosion due to runoff. They can be a hazard to your home, as well, as soil erosion can threaten your foundation.

Heading off soil erosion is the first priority in steep slope gardening, so steer clear of your traditional sod-type lawn and look at planting trees and shrubs, whose root systems will anchor the soil and slow runoff during heavy rains. Tall perennial grasses such as Pampas grass are also a good choice.

Even seeding the area with wildflowers will do a better job of keeping the soil from washing away that lawn grasses, and it will look a lot prettier, too. If lawn grass already exists on your steep slope, you’ll first need to use a good herbicide to kill it, then till the ground to create a bed for seeds. Wildflower seeds can be purchased in bulk from your lawn and garden store, in sizes ranging from small cans to large sacks. You’ll need about 50 seeds per square foot, or five to 10 pounds per acre. On a very steep slope, hydroseeding is the easiest method – seed and water is combined to make a slurry and then mixed with fertilizer and mulch. The mixture is then colored green to make it obvious where it’s been applied, and sprayed on the prepared ground.

Shady slopes, when flowers are unlikely to grow, are ideal spots for low-growing vines, ferns and perennials. Besides setting down roots that will keep the dirt from washing away during rains, the carpet of leaves will catch raindrops before they hit the ground, this slowing erosion.

A thoughtful landscaping plan can make steep slope gardening low maintenance, make un underutilized area attractive, and cut down on the risks to a home’s foundation.