Q. How do I protect my bulbs from rodents?
One of the most fail-safe ways to protect your bulbs from ravenous squirrels is to screen them with either chicken wire or hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is metal mesh, much like chicken wire, except that it is usually a grid of half-inch squares.
There are two general ways to use either chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect your bulbs. The first method is to simply cut a section of it the size of your planting area and lay it over the top of the soil once you're done planting. You'll have to secure it, either with stakes or large rocks, to keep it in place. Cover it with a mulch of shredded leaves or shredded bark so you won't have to look at the wire. The stems will come up through the holes in the chicken wire or hardware cloth, but the bulbs themselves will be protected from digging squirrels. This admittedly works best in open areas of your garden where you won't have to work around perennials or other plants.
Another way to use chicken wire or hardware cloth is to make simple cages from the wire mesh, place the bulbs inside, and plant the whole thing in the garden. This is especially effective if you have tunneling animals, such as moles or voles, in your garden.
If you're planting small areas of bulbs, or planting a few bulbs in an established garden bed, you may want to consider adding some sharp gravel to the top and sides of your bulb planting holes. Squirrels won't like trying to dig through the sharp gravel, and will usually give up once they encounter it in your garden. Look for the gravel in home improvement centers or landscape supply yards.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service