Friday, April 30, 2010

Ornamental Grass Garden Ideas

Grow ornamental grasses and you will enjoy a worry and maintenance free garden summer through early spring. Plant grasses in a group setting, as a hedge or as an accent plant, the ornamental grass garden will add interest to your landscape. Design your grass garden site by selecting grasses that will complement each other. For a small yard choose medium size grasses such as Karley Rose mixed with smaller grasses such as Prairie Dropseed. For large yards, choose tall and full grasses such as reed, zebra, reed grass, fountain grass or giant reed grass.

Raised grass garden
giant reed grass

Design your garden by staggering the height of the grasses. Plant the largest grass in the back, plant one medium on the right side and the other medium on the left side. Frame the grass garden with the smaller grasses by planting them in the front. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Raccoon Removal Tips for Yards

Young raccoon in my back garden

Raccoon removal is easier than you think. If you reside close to a park, or a wooded area, you may have raccoon's visiting your home, throughout the night. 

A raccoon is a smart and mischievous animal. They will climb up a tree, jump onto your roof and check out your chimney.  Raccoon's will look into your windows and if windows are open, they may remove the screen and come inside. 

Raccoons are generally afraid of people, but that does not mean they will overlook an invitation to sneak into your attic, basement or walk into your garage, home or enter your home through the pet door.
My home resides directly next to a 25-acre wildlife refuge. The woods has an overabundance of wildlife, there is a creek, fruit and nut trees, assorted berries and small caves. The setting is perfect for a wide variety of wild animals. 

There are many birds, coyote, fox, beavers, skunks, groundhogs, deer, wild turkey, bobcat and outgoing and very social raccoons. In early spring, the baby kits come to my yard to play with my dogs toys, to bathe in our pond and to steal my dog’s food bowl. 

At first, I thought it was the cutest thing, but then one night I viewed a family reunion of raccoons. They were up the trees, in the fountain, removing my plants from the garden containers and sitting at the picnic table. 

 I had a problem and needed to take drastic measures to remove the raccoons from my yard and garden.
Female raccoon by cat food

The first thing that I did was remove all of the outdoor cat and dog's food bowls.  When the raccoons came to visit me during the night they did not find any food so they raided my bird feeder.  

Then the raccoons trampled and dug up my plants and they ended their food frenzy with a look-see in my trash cans.  Obviously this was a raccoon temper tantrum. 

Removing Raccoons from Yard

 I removed the bird feeder and locked it in the garage for overnight keeping, turned off my water fountain and locked the lids on my trashcans.  I also removed my dogs water bowl.
Raccoon drinking out of dog water bowl

I then installed a scarecrow motion activated water sprinkler.  Whenever the raccoon crossed the path of the sprinkler a burst of water was emitted and the raccoon got stung with water.  It was enough to scare the raccoon and teach then that they were not welcome. 

Trapping Raccoons

If you find that trapping is your only option for removing a raccoon.  Then contact your local animal control and ask them to drop off a live animal trap.  The animal control officer will set up the trap and bait it with cat food.  When I trap raccoons I use peanut butter.

Raccoons are very easy to trap as they love food.   When the trap door closes the raccoon will be frightened so I usually go out and throw beach towel over the trap because it is comforting to the animal.   

Live Animal Two-Door Raccoon Cage Trap

Contact animal control and tell them that you do not want the raccoon euthanized that you prefer that they relocate the animal to another area.  

If there is no animal control in your area then buy a medium sized 2 door live animal trap and bait it with cat food. Set the trap up in an area that is away from human traffic. 

I have trapped many raccoons for clients and have released the raccoons in wooded area that is away from neighborhood homes.   

The two door trap is easy to use, the animal walks into the trap and doors close.  I have never had a problem with releasing a raccoon.  When I open the front gate by pulling it straight up the raccoon usually bolts from the trap and runs into the woods.

Optional add straw or newspaper to the floor of the trap as it makes the trap more inviting.

Many people think that trapping a raccoon will put an end to their raccoon problem.  Trapping is a solution for one raccoon however if you do not eliminate the attraction to your yard then you will not remove the raccoons.  

It is better to clean-up your yard by removing food and water source and make your yard unattractive to the raccoon with the scarecrow motion activated sprinkler.  Raccoons do not like the sting of water that is emitted from scarecrow. 


Monday, April 19, 2010

Get Rid of Groundhogs Permanently

Groundhog eating bird food:  Image by Sgolis

Getting rid of groundhogs can be achieved quickly and easily. I discovered a few methods that are effective in permanently removing groundhogs without harming them.

Groundhogs that choose your yard to be their forage area will eat your vegetation or they may burrow under your deck or house.  

Groundhog on steps waiting for cat or dog food

Last summer two groundhogs decided to spend the summer foraging in my yard. They also burrowed and weakened my retaining wall.

 My home resides on a ridge and a ten-foot retaining wall keeps my yard intact and homes secure.

The retaining wall burrow had many living spaces that took up to fifty feet, with many entrances and separate living spaces for the offspring and other family members.

While the groundhog may be cute and the babies adorable, they can cause major structural damage from their vast tunneling system and devour your prized flower and vegetable gardens in under a week.

Tips for Getting Rid of Groundhogs

  1. Install a dog house an get an outdoor dog.  Groundhogs are terrified of dogs.  
  2. Cover groundhog burrow holes in your yard with a cement cap. 
  3. Buy a Scarecrow motion activated sprinkler.  This pest control product is easy to install and it gets the job done.  Groundhogs are afraid of water and should the rodent come 1000 feet of the scarecrow the sprinkler will emit a powerful burst of water that hits the groundhog and gets them wet.  They are terrified and run back to the forest.  What I like about this product is that it is a humane way to train groundhogs to stay out of your yard.  It does not take much if the groundhog is uncomfortable they will move to another location.

More tips for Getting Rid of Groundhogs

  1. Purchase a live animal trap or clean a used trap with dawn dish soap.  I clean the trap by rinsing it with soapy dawn dish soap and then I rinse it well with the garden hose.  I set the trap out in the sun to dry.  When the trap is dry I put on latex gloves before I handle it.  If the groundhog smells the human scent they will not enter the trap. 
  2. Get the trap ready by laying newspaper on the bottom of the trap. Fold the newspaper in half so that it fits inside the trap. Bait the trap with a red juicy apple.  I cut the apple in half so that the scent of the apple will lure the groundhog to the trap and encourage the rodent to enter the back of the trap.
  3. Set the trap up against the side of your home, shed or garage or conceal it under shrubs or bushes. Cover the trap with a twin sized blanket but do not cover the entrance. On the day that I plan to trap the groundhog, I will stay close to the trap, I never leave traps unattended. 
  4. Once the groundhog is trapped I will cover the entire trap with the blanket. I find that the blanket that covers the trap comforts the groundhog and they are not as terrified. Put on thick protective gloves and handle the trap carefully, never pick up from the sides, only carry the trap with the handles.
  5. Relocate the groundhogs to a wooded area that is across the water.  Water will prevent the groundhog from coming back to my yard. I think that trapping is a permanent method to remove groundhogs from your yard and garden. 

Use caution when opening the trap door as the groundhog may show aggression.  In my experience, the groundhog did not want to leave the trap and I needed to coax him out with apples.  I did not rush the groundhog to leave the trap, I waited patiently until he exited on his own.

The above groundhog images I took.  The introduction is a groundhog that was born in May 2011.  The groundhog on the step is approximate 28 months old, the size is quite smaller from a fully grown groundhog. Both groundhogs have been trapped and relocated.

The motion-activated Scarecrow sprinkler is something every gardener needs for pest control.  It works great for deer, stray cats, raccoon, and groundhogs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Landscaping with Liriope Border Grass

Liriope, commonly known as lilyturf or border grass, is a low growing semi-evergreen perennial ground cover.  This ground cover is a fast growing and a good choice for erosion control.  Liriope grass will add eye appealing color and movement to your landscape summer through winter.

Grassy foliage of the liriope border grass

I grow this plant throughout my yard as it is a good landscape ground cover.   I have planted as a border along my garden paths and around my oak and maple trees.  I have also added it to my hosta garden and as a border to my ornamental grass garden.   I like  the grass like foliage that grows upward from a clump, and the lavender flower that blooms in late summer make this plant a feature in my garden. 

The flower is long lived, has no fragrance and when it fades a cluster of blackish berries will appear. These berries are ornamental and will stay on the liriope during winter.

Here are some photographs of liriope gardens and landscape:
Liriope and Hosta Garden
liriope  around maple tree with sweet autumn clematis growing up tree
Spring lirope / trimmed
liriope in bloom, photographed at night

Growing Instructions for Liriope Ground Cover

Choosing a Garden Site
Plant this ground cover in an garden that has good drainage you will also need an area that has part sun to shade.   Liriope does not grow well in intense afternoon sun, as the leaves will become scorched, but it does grow well in morning sun, part shade to shade in the heat of the day and part sun in the evening.

When to Plant
Buy nursery grown plants or bare roots.  If you intend to do a mass planting then it is wise to buy bare roots as they cost less and they grow quickly. 

Plant in spring after the danger of frost has past or in fall.  Note you can plant liriope anytime during the growing season provided you water it daily until the roots establish.

Soak bare root plants in tepid water before planting. The water will hydrate the roots and get them ready for planting.  If you plant the bare root in the early spring and fertilize with spray n' grow then will bloom the first year.

Plant the liriope in a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the roots. Cover the roots with soil that is amended with compost or manure and water well. Space plants 18 inches apart.

Care for your Liriope

Maintain the soil that it is evenly moist but not wet.  Apply two inches of mulch around the liriope to aid in maintaining moisture and to prevent weed growth.  Feed with all purpose fertilizer the first week of August.  Cut back in March before new spring growth. Do this by setting your lawn mower blade on high and mow over the plant.

You can also cut back with weed eater, trim the ground cover to 3 inches, this is a safe height as you do not want to cut too low and damage the crown.

Divide and transplant in spring as needed Fully-grown plants are fifteen inches in height and width.

Do not eat the ornamental berries.

Learn how to divide and transplant liriope border grass by viewing this video: