Try chicken wire to deter those marauding rabbits

Backyard Q&A

June 19, 2005|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

The rabbit population in my neighborhood grows and grows. They decimated my vegetables last year. Trapping, mothballs and hot peppers failed. Any suggestions?

Your best deterrent may be a rabbit fence such as chicken wire, 3 feet high with the bottom secured tightly to the ground or buried 6 inches below ground level. Some people have success using repellents such as dried blood, human hair, predator urines and other commercial repellants. Repellants need to be rotated and reapplied after rain.

To protect young trees and shrubs, a cylinder of 1/4 -inch hardware cloth or a hard plastic spiral should be placed around the trunks.

Individual plants or beds can also be covered with a lightweight material known as floating row cover. Secure it to the ground with rocks, boards or soil, allowing sun and water to enter but not rabbits.

Do Lagerstroemia have difficulty with wind? I'd like to plant one in a windy site, but I can't find information on wind tolerance.

Often Lagerstroemia (crape myrtles) are not hardy to a satisfactory degree in our region, because of our cold winters. Add the facts that they prefer a moist soil and that wind dries soils, and it doesn't seem that a windy spot would be the best place to plant one. In fact, unless you choose one of the newer, more cold-hardy cultivars, it's generally advised to plant Lagerstroemia in a sheltered area.

A peach-colored, foamy-looking mold sprung up all of a sudden on Monday at the base of our 20-year-old yellow rosebush. My father removed the sore from the bush. Two of the branches are dead, though the bush lives on. What was that stuff?

Is there mulch around your rose bush? Dog vomit fungus occasionally appears when spores blow in and land in a welcoming, moist environment -- often, a mulched area. This mushroom-like fungus is very short-lived and harmless. It cannot directly infect or damage plants.

Pulling or raking it away is fine, though it will shrivel, dry up and disappear in a matter of days all by itself.

Checklist

1. Avoid using Japanese beetle traps, since they often attract additional beetles to your yard.

2. Remove the lower leaves of tomato plants killed by the early blight fungus. Consider using a fixed copper fungicide if the infection is causing all lower leaves to die.

3. Leave snakes alone! Snakes are active because it is mating season. These are beneficial creatures.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call its hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions through the Ask a Question feature on the Web site at www.hgic.umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online.)

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