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Mr. Smarty Plants - Lake Plantings and Geese

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Friday - May 10, 2013

From: Wichita, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Lake Plantings and Geese
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live on a small lake in Wichita, KS and we are over run with Canada geese. I would like to plant flowers around my patio (which is not allowed to be fenced off). Are there any flowers or plants that the geese won’t bother? They loved the iris so I had to dig them up.

ANSWER:

First some general geese management suggestions. Organic Gardening have some tips about how to deal with a goose invasion that might help. Make changes before geese settle down for spring nesting season. Grow your lawn at least 3 inches tall. Canada geese love short grass. Remove chunks of lawn and replace it with taller native plants and shrubs is a great geese control tactic. Avoid their favorite food – Kentucky bluegrass. Avoid mowing to the water’s edge of your pond. Again plant native vegetation around your pond.  If unwanted Canada geese are lingering near your pond, you can install wire to deter the geese. According to Audubon, stringing one row 6 inches off the ground by the water's edge, and another 6 inches above the water three feet into the pond, can keep geese away from their popular water spots on your property. Don’t feed them. Call in a dog. Border collies are particularly effective in Canada geese control. They will quietly herd them up and coax them off the land.
Purdue University Extension has some additional tips for managing Canada geese on their website too.
Limit access to your pond. Water is an attraction in itself. Dense shrubs can act as a barrier if they are thick and full right down to ground level. Never let geese land on your pond.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources also has some excellent suggestions about Canada geese management on their website.  Adopt a no-feeding rule. Implement daily goose harassment techniques.  Create vegetative buffer strips of tall, thick plants around shorelines. They suggest native, warm season grasses that are stiff-stemmed and remain tall and erect even into the winter.  Do not mow these buffer strips or you will reduce their effectiveness. Some mixtures of cool season grasses and legumes will also function as an effective goose deterring buffer strip. Buffer strips should be at least 10’ wide. Rock barriers that are at least 2’ in diameter can be placed along the shoreline. Remove any islands or peninsulas as these are ideal nesting sites.
Here are the native plants they recommend:

Warm-season grass and wildflowers - Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), Redtop tridens (Tridens flavus)  (covercrop to get switchgrass to establish), Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium).
Moisture-tolerant warm season grass with wildflowers - Prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) (instead of switchgrass/redtop).
Cool-season grasses - Virginia wildrye (Elymus virginicus) and redtop.

Shrubs - Common serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea spp. sericea), common elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis), American hazelnut (Corylus americana), common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin),smooth sumac (Rhus glabra). Planted 3 feet x 3 feet.
Trees - River birch, roughleaf dogwood, eastern red cedar, black cherry. Spacing should be 6’ x 6’ for less than 20’ barrier width or 8’ x 6’ for more than 20’ barrier width.

Finally, here’s an article from Rutgers about planting to deter Canada Geese.

 

From the Image Gallery


Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

Button eryngo
Eryngium yuccifolium

Prairie cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Virginia wildrye
Elymus virginicus

Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

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