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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 04, 2011

From: Manchester, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pests
Title: Varmints disturbing plants in NH
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I planted herbs and perennials, then put paper down and bark. At first an animal just disturbed the paper around the plants, exposing it. Today two plants are dug up and are completely gone. No sign of what was there. I am suspicious that it is either a squirrel, possibly a skunk but have not smelled one. Can you tell me what I can do to prevent varmints from disturbing my plants???


Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to know exactly what is rooting around in your garden and why, but we can give you a little advice on how to deal with the situation.

First of all you will have to figure out what type of varmint is digging around and why.  Is it something like a skunk digging for grubs?  Is it a squirrel burying nuts or looking for ones he thinks you may have covered with your plants? Or is it a groundhog just enjoying a midnight snack? Although you do not mention what type of paper (and is it in layers or shredded?) you used under the bark mulch, it is unlikely that either is what the animal is after.

You'll have to figure out whether the critter is going for the plant or the insects in the ground but when all is said and done, you have to realize that you are trying to create a garden where these varmints do their "grocery shopping".  All you can really do is plant enough to share with them or introduce a "night watchman" that they consider a predator (a dog?) to scare them off.  That scenario could escalate and become much like that cinematic classic "Caddyshack"!


More Pests Questions

Reaction to something in the garden from Dowling MI
May 25, 2012 - In late March I was working in my yard raking etc. The next morning I had three black spots between my knee and shin that were swelling and feverish. Two days later the areas became bigger and began...
view the full question and answer

Moths around Sophora secundiflora from Driftwood TX
March 15, 2012 - Sophora secundiflora Our Mountain Laurel has a lot of large moths flying around it. Should we be concerned? Will they hurt the tree? thank you
view the full question and answer

Problems with iguanas in Ft. Lauderdale FL
August 04, 2009 - I live on the intracoastal waterway near Ft. Lauderdale,FL and I am having problems with iguana. They will not eat lantana or buttercups; however is there a poisonous ground cover, preferable with fl...
view the full question and answer

Something eating leaves of Eastern Redbud in San Antonio
May 27, 2010 - I know you had this question a few years back but no answer. Something is eating the leaves of my Redbud (Eastern, I think. There are varying sizes of bites, but most leaves stripped, some to stem. Pl...
view the full question and answer

Which plants are resistant to dog urine in Ashmore, IL??
May 21, 2012 - Which native plants are resistant to dogs urinating on them?
view the full question and answer

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