Garden Pests

Dealing with Moles in Oxfordshire Gardens

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Dealing with Moles in Oxfordshire Gardens

You may have spotted the signs of moles in your garden; those small heaps of soil spread in lines across your lawn or borders or sunken areas of lawn are a clear indication that these burrowing creatures are around.  Moles can live in suburban areas of towns near to woodland or wild land, and in Oxfordshire they most commonly seen in gardens in areas like Boar’s Hill. Moles love to dig through free-draining, soft soil that’s got plenty of juicy worms for them to munch. Of course, this is exactly the kind of soil gardeners like too, but unfortunately moles and gardeners don’t mix well! Moles are a symbol of the English countryside, much-loved characters in many children’s books, but for the gardener, moles can be a pest and hard to get rid of. Their digging can ruin lawns, destroy plants and interfere with borders; although moles don’t directly eat plants (they live on earthworms and insects), their digging interferes with root systems, harming plants. Their mounds of excavated soil on a lawn can be unsightly and must be flattened before mowing, and mole tunnels under a lawn can also cave in, creating an uneven surface. But getting rid of moles in your garden can be tough. We look at some of the best solutions to try if you spot those mole signs. Mole traps Mole traps are come in two types – traps that are intended to kill the mole, and those that capture the animal alive. Traps that kill moles are meant to be humane, using a strong spring mechanism to kill the mole instantly through impact. Live mole traps capture the mole so it can be released elsewhere. Both types of trap have their drawbacks though; they both take careful setting up, involving digging into a molehill to find the tunnel direction and placing the trap into the tunnel. Soil can clog traps as the mole digs, setting them off early so they need resetting. There is also a risk that traps don’t work as humanely as intended; moles are sometimes not killed outright, or may die of starvation or panic in a live trap if it isn’t checked regularly. If you capture a mole in a live trap, you also have responsibilities when it comes to disposing of the animal – you must have permission to release it on someone else’s land, and that land must be suitable to support moles. Call in the professionals One option is to pay a professional mole catcher to come in and deal with your mole problem. They are experienced at setting traps effectively, and are likely to deal with the issue faster than you can. But any trapping method has the disadvantage that it doesn’t permanently get rid of moles – empty tunnels can be re-inhabited by new moles, and if your soil is particularly mole-friendly, more are likely to move in. Planting solutions There are natural anti-mole techniques that some gardeners swear by that are supposed to discourage moles from your garden altogether. Planting is one of them; some of the species that moles are meant to dislike include alliums, marigolds and daffodils, whose scent is meant to be effective for three months after flowering. To plant these anti-mole varieties, you much first identify the boundaries of the land you want to protect and plant at points around that area. An organic solution: pet hair Another organic, mole-friendly solution is to spread cat or dog hair over the boundary of the area affected. Moles apparently hate the smell of the hair because both animals are predators, and...

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Muntjac Deer in Oxfordshire: A Problem for Gardeners?

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Muntjac Deer in Oxfordshire: A Problem for Gardeners?

I’ve been hearing of a new kind of garden pest targeting those new spring shoots in the Boars Hill and Cumnor Hill areas of Oxford – deer! Muntjac deer are a common sight around Oxfordshire,  and they’re now often seen in urban gardens in suburban areas close to wasteland or woodland. It’s straightforward to identify a muntjac – not least because they’re the only breed of deer likely to be breaking into your urban garden. They’re small, stocky and brown in colour, and adult males have short, straight antlers. Muntjac are a prehistoric species, and aren’t native to Britain. They’ve been around since the early 1900s, when they were imported from China to Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, subsequently escaping into the wild. Urban Muntjac Muntjac mostly keep to forested areas, but they can also sometimes be seen in urban gardens, especially in larger, more overgrown gardens that give plenty of cover and back on to woodland or wasteland. Muntjac are a threat to plant life as they eat low-lying plants voraciously, and can also be a big problem for gardeners. They’re partial to fresh shoots, flowers and vegetables, and will happily strip bark from your lovely ornamental and fruit trees. Laurel shrubs and tulip bulbs are particular delicacies. They can quickly devastate a garden, if left to their own devices. What can I do to protect my garden? If you don’t want muntjac to get into your garden at all, you’ll need to improve your fencing, making sure there are no holes or weak areas the deer could get through. Munjac are good jumpers though, and can jump a fence several feet high with no problems. You’ll also need to protect the ground around fence with chicken wire, as muntjac can dig too. You can protect vegetables and seedlings with strong plastic trellis laid over them and secured with pegs. A natural deterrent method is to plant lavender around borders, as the strong smell deters muntjac. One other approach is to offer the muntjac alternative food sources to protect your treasured plants. Fence in plants to prevent them becoming an easy target for the deer and offer them something else that’s easy to get to – muntjac will eat vegetables, carbohydrates like bread and even leftovers from your dining table. If all else fails, you could look at installing a deer deterrent, like this commercially available one. The noise, light and human voices deter the animals. Or try making your own contraption like...

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