Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Eugenia, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Pests
Title: Eliminating muskrats from a cottage garden in Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We have perennial gardens at our cottage and for the first time this year the muskrats have come and leveled everything..shasta daisies, coneflowers, day lilies, phlox, etc. Any suggestions as to how to keep them out of the garden?

ANSWER:

Wow!  We have heard about problems with deer and rabbits all over North America,  groundhogs and beavers in the north and armadillos in the south, but yours is the first query about muskrats.

The bad news is that you are fighting a losing battle.  Building some kind of enclosure to exclude them is out of the question at a cottage.  The good news is that they are not an official "species at risk" so you could trap and relocate the offender(s).

What we really recommend is that you rethink the idea of perennial gardens at your cottage.  Take a close look at what they don't eat (if there is anything) and plant more of that.  You may not end up with a perennial garden filled with the ornamentals you were thinking of, but you can create an attractive, low maintenance garden made up of plants that are native to the area.  Wandering through the woods with an eye for plants that could be used in a "garden" might be quite revealing.  We also recommend you visit the Evergreen.ca plant database for suggestions.Once you have an idea of what types of shrubs and herbaceous flowering plants thrive in your area (and are ignored by the muskrats) you should be able to purchase varieties of those plants at your local nursery.

I am wondering whether you are really dealing with a groundhog and not a muskrat because of the total devastation and the fact that muskrats feed primarily on aquatic vegetation, but it's a moot point when all your coneflowers are gone!  Good luck.

 

More Pests Questions

Keeping squirrels out of pecan tree from Garland TX
August 17, 2013 - My yard is covered in green pecans with one bite eaten by squirrels. How do I keep squirrels out of my pecan tree?
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars devouring Blue Wild Indigo in Jesup GA
September 05, 2011 - I have a false blue indigo growing in my garden. Every spring it gets defoliated by Genista moth caterpillars. It usually doesn't put out new growth until the next spring. This summer, it has put ...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating wood roaches from hardwood mulch from San Antonio TX
February 05, 2013 - How can I eliminate the numerous wood roaches in my hardwood mulch that I get for free from the city of San Antonio?
view the full question and answer

Vehicle friendly oak trees for Austin
March 30, 2008 - Do Chinquapins, Shumards or Live Oaks produce lots of tree sap? I'm looking for a vehicle friendly Oak tree to be installed in parking areas in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Why are small leaf pieces aligned on top of exposed root?
July 11, 2011 - Hi. An oak tree in my yard has one of its exposed roots covered in hundreds of small pieces of leaves. The pieces follow exactly the shape of the root above the surface. What insect would do this and...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.