Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter and he headed back underground to sleep till spring. Which should give you a few good weekends to protect your backyard from unwanted burrowing pests before spring.
Simple barriers on existing fences
When you walk the perimeter of a fence, garden or chicken enclosure look for gaps, holes, dead plants and displaced earth. If your trouble spots are isolated an easy solution is a burrow barrier. These are 32” wide interconnected stakes that are 2” apart that can be hammered into the ground to create a wall of protection from the fence 8” into the ground. (picture of the product). Since the barrier all but disappears into the ground it can be used with any fence product from wood to chain-link.
If the problem areas are more frequent than a spot here and there or you are concerned that by plugging one hole another will pop up, then it may be time to create a long permanent barrier. We recommend digging a 3 inch deep by 6 inches wide trench along the fence line. You can get about 100 linear feet of trench out of a standard 36” x 25’ x 1/4” roll. Inside the trench you will place hardware cloth flat on the bottom with the cloth bending up and extending to the bottom of the fence making an ‘L’ shape. Replacing the removed dirt with an inch of stones is preferred since it also deters digging, then finish with the top two inches of dirt.
Keeping burrowing animals in mind when building new fences
If you are getting started on a new fence, garden or chicken run it is good to plan for burrow barriers from the start. Design you project with a trench at the fence edge so you can extend the fence line into the ground and fill it with stones to discourage diggers. You could also plan for a hardware cloth lined trench as detailed above from the start so that you are only disturbing the ground once.
Raised garden beds
Are you planning to create some raised garden beds this year? Using chicken wire or hardware cloth on the underside of garden beds is an easy way to prevent unwanted snackers in your garden.
If you have issues with underground diggers like moles and voles, another great deterrent is to create chicken wire pots around your bulbs with some room to grow. Then when you plant them, pot and all there is plenty of room for water and roots, but a difficult challenge for anything digging around looking for a snack. Concerned about squirrels digging? Lay chicken wire over the planting area and then holding it down with wood chips or decorative rock.