Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 04, 2011

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

QUESTION:

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???

ANSWER:

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

Avoiding insect bites while gardening in Kansas
December 03, 2015 - I recently moved into Mission, Kansas(Johnson County). Every time I go do any yard work I get a couple of insect bite looking spots on body. They are somewhat painful and very itchy. One of them got i...
view the full question and answer

Ants in the compost pile from Georgetown TX
March 09, 2012 - Can you give me any suggestions for ridding my compost pile of ants?
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cochineal Insects on Cholla Cactus
July 07, 2011 - We have cochineal insects on a cholla cactus. Will they kill the plant? What should we do to get rid of them if water spraying them won't work?
view the full question and answer

What are the webs floating in the air? Are they harmful to plants?
October 03, 2010 - Austin, TX has experienced fall weather for the past week..low humidity, nice temps, sunny skies. But long webs are connecting from trees to our plants to the porch. Not on the trunk of the tree like ...
view the full question and answer

Poor drainage in wildflower bed
November 10, 2004 - I have a flower bed that has given me difficulty because it has poor drainage but typically receives sun for most of the day. Salvia gregii was the only survivors for the initial landscaping attempt. ...
view the full question and answer

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