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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.

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

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Saturday - February 28, 2015

From: Kansas City, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens, Pests, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Deterring geese from a wildflower garden
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I've moved into a home with a large pond beyond the grass yard. I intend to plant a sunflower house with lots of other plants as part of the structure, such as flowering vines, clover, mint and thyme. I'm dismayed to realize that the geese might make this impossible. Do you think they will prevent me from growing my sunflower house by devouring everything?

ANSWER:

There would seem to be three different approaches to discourage geese: prevent geese from having access to selected plants, make the area unattractive to geese, and drive geese away.

If your sunflower house is located at some distance from your main viewing points you might try erecting a fence of wire having mesh that is thin enough to be almost invisible from a distance.

A different approach would be to make plantings that do not suit the geese's life style.  This article from a Seattle newspaper offers good tips.  Principally, minimize the availability of new plant shoots (which geese love) by replacing mowed lawn with taller grasses, sedges or forbs and restrict the birds' easy access to water by planting floating aquatic plants at the pond edges.  If you can do these things before the geese discover your yard and settle there they may never find it a comfortable home-away-from-home.

A final suggestion would be to get a goose dog.  Finding one that would reliably chase the geese but not catch them might be a bit tricky.  But a dog plus a few taller plants harboring potential hiding places for it could make geese uneasy enough to leave.

Suggested aquatic plant species for your area are listed here (you can also use this web page to look for other types of plants for your garden).  Many of them should be available at your local plant nurseries.

 

 

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