Winter Pest Protection For Your Yard and Garden
I have already seen it in our vegetable garden at home. The tell tale signs of mice, which have been enjoying our beets, carrots and potatoes as their dinner for the past few weeks. Mice and voles can become a big problem, especially over the winter months, in the landscape. Although tiny in size these rodents can do a lot of damage to trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and the lawn.
Steps can be taken now to help prevent damage by voles and moles over the winter months. The idea is to make your landscape less friendly to these unwelcome guests. Mice need shelter, food and protection from predators in order to survive. By taking these away you will make your yard less welcoming, and much harder for mice to survive. First remove any grass from around trees and shrubs making it harder for mice to hide in and nest in. If you live near a forested area, create a one meter berm where all grass and debris are removed, between the bush and your yard. This will help prevent mice coming into your yard as they have no where to hide. Clean up around the yard taking away any nesting materials. Trim back perennials to 10-15 cm from ground level, remove all debris from the vegetable garden and finished annuals from flower beds. I have seen many trees killed over the years, due to mice eating the tender bark and girdling the tree. If the bark is destroyed around the trunk of the tree, the tree can no longer take up water and nutrients causing it to die. One method of stopping the mice from eating the bark is to protect the trunk by wrapping it with a tree guard.
Available at the garden centre, tree guards are adjustable plastic coils that wrap themselves around the trunk of the tree, and prevent the mice from getting to the bark. The guards are placed on the tree in the fall and removed in the spring and can be re-used for years to come. When putting the guard on the tree, start at the base, ground level, and work up. It should go 1-1.5 meters up the tree, larger caliber trees may need more than one guard.
Lawns can be damaged by voles over the winter. Voles are rodents that look very much like mice but have shorter tails and are more stocky.
Over the winter when the lawn is covered by snow, voles will tunnel and eat the grass, leaving runs in the lawn. The damage shows up next spring when the snow melts. To help prevent this from happening, lower the blade on the lawnmower, so that the grass is 4-5 cm short, for the last cut of the season.