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Badger badger badger badger...

  • Badger badger badger badger...

Badgers keep digging up my bulbs and they seem to have a particular taste for tulip bulbs! Other than fence the area off, has anyone come up with any crafty badger deterrent?

Comments (26)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    "Mushroom, mushroom..." (I am doing the dance)

    Badgers are a complete pain once they start doing this: I have had problems in two of my gardens, in the same village, so presumably the same actual beasts! In one case it was a walled garden which had been infiltrated, and the answer was...

    .. to find the breach, and fix it, to prevent them getting back in.

    The other one was an "open" garden, I assume yours is, too, and after many years of no badgers, it suddenly started being a problem. We found out by asking around that some road works had inadvertently disturbed their home, so they had been displaced further into the village.

    It was clear from their scat piles that they were getting into the garden from one particular direction, so I sprayed the piles with strong citrus-smelling disinfectant (the cheapest, smelliest one I could find) and this seemed to put them off, presumably before it became too much of an established habit. If your badger problem is a recent one, it might be as simple as finding out which way they approach, and applying a smell barrier to discourage them.

    If they are a pre-existing problem, then it might still be worth trying to see if they have a particular routes into your garden, in case you can block or divert them.

    Otherwise, it does seem that they are finding the bulbs by smell, so you could try either "dipping the bulbs in a taste repellent before planting" (honestly, I just read this on the internet!) or scattering mammal repellent powder around - apparently there are some products for this exact purpose, "Scoot" and "Stay Off" are the brand names that are mentioned, all of which sounds less of a faff than pegging down yards of wire mesh over the bulbs, which is the traditional answer.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    'Snnnnaaaake!' That's great thanks Rachel and Alya! They keep digging up the same bits of the garden and it is an un-fenced garden in open countryside. I will try one of those brands you mentioned. It would take quite a bit of chicken wire to cover the bulbs and would look a bit rubbish, to be honest. I know another alternative would be to plant all the bulbs in pots and then plant the pots- similar to Alya's suggestion of using those aquatic pots (good idea!) and I might do this for next year's planting. I'm going to see what survived...This would also mean I could dig them up when the foliage is dying down which would solve the problem of messy bulb foliage in the border, yet allow the leaves to die down naturally, which is much better for the plant than, shock horror, snipping the leaves off, as I know some gardeners do!

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Yes - I was quite impressed, Alya, with your idea about using mesh baskets. And it would certainly be a lot easier to lift them up after flowering. Would you still need to empty them, once the foliage had died down? Or, to put the same question another way, I know that most of the flamboyant tulip bulbs will rot if left in the ground overwinter (species tulips are the ones that you can leave down year after year) but if you lifted the pots, let the foliage die down, then let the pots dry out by putting them in a shed or garage, would you still need to clean off the bulbs, or would they be ok in bone dry soil over the winter? You could then just replant the entire pot next auturnn!

    And in case anyone is wondering what on earth we are talking about with mushrooms, snakes and the dance (which I am still doing) you can see it here -

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Alya,

    Wow, 800 roses - sounds like paradise! I love your idea of tall, late-flowering bulbs to be planted around shorter, earlier-flowering roses - I've never seen that done. I must admit that I am quite old-fashioned about roses, I like them clean and clear with nothing around them, but your idea sounds interesting.

    "Are badgers deterred by thorns" is an interesting question, they have very thick coats, so I don't think "normal" thorned plants such as berberis, brambles etc would even be noticed.

  5. Grower

    Ali Jones

    Hi all,
    Some really good advice here, thank you! I have a similar client with an unfenced, countryside garden and badgers have been a huge problem. Lawns, raised beds, borders, pots, and not to mention the scat piles! It's been the garden equivalent of a bunch of drunken teenagers having a party in your house! As far as pots go, they've just knocked over any with bulbs in, and flung the contents out until they've found the tulips (and they are BIG pots...) I'm going to give the citrus disinfectant a try, and failing that, I'll hit the Scoot!
    Thanks again for the ideas, Alison

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Alison waves, it sounds as though you have a real infestation there! The scat piles are fairly revolting, aren't they: "my" badgers chose to place theirs right in the middle of the path leading out of the main garden and along to the ford (where they were getting in) which was horrible for the owners.

    Do yours look like piles of nuts? I was quite intrigued, in a holding-the-nose sort of way, that it didn't look like "poo" at all. Alas, I didn't take any photos, but I'd be interested to hear what yours look like.

    Good luck with the scent barrier and the Scoot thing - it really does seem as though scent is a large part of it, as their eyesight is not particularly good, so it seems logical that a scent barrier might put them off. Do let us know how you get on!!

  7. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    My 'experience of badger poo' (going on my CV) ;-) is that it's really really smelly and almost black in colour, and large and rounded. I'll have to remember to take a photo the next time I see some.

  8. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Maybe it depends on what they've been eating? Mine was definitely full of rounded light brown things - it looked exactly like nuts, as in hazelnuts!

  9. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    It must be to do with what they've eaten- I would have thought the badgers in the garden I'm thinking about must have droppings that look a lot like tulip bulbs...grrr! ;-) Have you got trees which might be providing them with nuts? It's mainly ash trees around the garden I work in, and I don't think there's much hazel or beech, or even oak. Anyway, I look forward to some photos of droppings- I can see a theme developing here. Also, footprints would be cool to see (although snow is a real help, obviously).

  10. Grower

    Ali Jones

    Hi to you both waves back,
    "My" (usually enormous) piles are in a border, fairly near to their run into the garden (set on a wooded hillside in the country, so not surprising there are badgers!) I'd agree that it's very black in colour, and quite glossy, so I can only think as well that it must be their diet. I'll try and snap a photo when I'm there next. Might take some explaining...! ;-)
    I've been lurking on this site since last summer so its nice to finally interact! Must get my page sorted now! :-)

  11. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Hi Ali, Nice to see you join the conversation and post your Grower page.

    Badger poo is black and very, very smelly. I know because when our dogs find it they like to roll in it. I'd love to know why?? Canine aftershave?

    A badger is currently digging holes in our lawn. Apparently they dig for the larvae of cockchafer beetles and leatherjackets. Very annoying. One (expensive) solution I have seen suggested is to apply nematodes to remove the temptation ... but nematodes can impact other things too. Badgers as predators are also said to be part cause of the alarming decline in hedgehogs. Where badger culling has been done, Hedgehog numbers are said to have doubled.

    Does anyone have a good photo of a badger (as well as their poo!)? Seems wrong to talk so much about them without a decent pic. We see a lot of them here in Somerset but, sadly, mostly squished on the road.

  12. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    Apparently one of the main causes of the decline in hedgehog numbers is the lack of proper hedge-laying, which leaves hedges too thin at the bottom to provide the right density for hedgehogs to build their nests. Badger populations have also increased because of more maize being grown. Some UK papers, who support the badger cull here in the UK are promoting the idea that the cull will improve hedgehog numbers, but sadly they are wrong. Here is a link to an article which explains why.

  13. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Thanks - good to have better facts ... and no disrespect to the badger intended (however annoying their habits!).

    For good measure, we've also just added a fine photo of a badger to the post.

  14. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    OMG shakes head in despair, GoodEarth, thank you for the link to the article, which was interesting, but oh! the "discussion" that followed it is one of the most vitriolic I have read for some time. (I don't get out of gardens, much).

    What a shame that people who feel so strongly about these things sink to the lengths of ridicule and insult when someone challenges their viewpoint.

    At least there is some good news: I live quite close to the Earth Trust who actively promote hedgelaying, by providing courses:

    I also belong to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and we have several members who have been on hedgelaying courses, and who now do as good a job as they can of improving the very badly-maintained hedging along the line of the Canal, with minimal support, no funding at all (all voluntary) and often lacking in the usual stakes and binders, having to use just the materials they can source from the hedge itself.

    I have no facts or figures to support the following statement, but anecdotally, "and the hedgehogs love it!" (ie the rejuvenated hedgerows).

  15. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I must admit, I tend to ignore a lot of the discussions under articles I find online as you do get people who have nothing better to do than to argue with 'someone who's wrong on the internet'! ;-)

    Have you ever been to the annual hedgelaying championship? I went to one back in 2005 and saw Prince Charles laying a hedge himself and it was pretty darn cool! It would be nice to think that one day all hedges will be layed in the traditional regional way, by paid professional craftspeople. Just think how that would improve wildlife habitats, as well as provide decent skilled employment in rural areas. If there was the political will, we're a rich nation and we could find a way...But the society we live in currently doesn't value having a rich ecosystem as it can't be monetised. What price do you put on the sound of birdsong as you step out of your house? Or seeing a buzzard fly over, looking for those small over-looked creatures whose home is the hedge or messy, un-managed patch of land? It's wonderful that volunteers lay our hedges and maintain pathways and do so much to help people access the countryside and may they continue to do so but I still can't help but think it shows how peripheral these things are to what is considered important. The fact that the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust are not funded by our taxes to do this important work or even given materials saddens me. (Ever the idealist..Sigh...)

  16. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    You are very wise to ignore the comments - I wish that I had!

  17. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    Hi Alya, those are great photos! It sounds like you're a victim of your own success in creating a beautiful garden, but I completely understand why you would need privacy from people taking pictures. Obviously just make sure you don't block too much light. Dog rose is a good hedging plant and will eventually grow to around 4 metres so you will have to give it a good chop. It is deciduous though, so as long as that won't be a problem, (you don't mind a little less privacy in the winter) it's a safe bet. Make sure it gets enough light. Rosa rugosa is also a good hedging rose, with a glorious scent and tough as old boots, but non native, and maybe the birds might prefer the hips from the wild rose, although I don't know the answer to this!

  18. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Alya,

    Hedgelaying with roses is an interesting idea! It's not that far from what I do to roses on a daily basis, ie torturing them sideways along their supports, in order to get flowers lower down on the stems.

    When you say you are restricted to no more than 1m high fence, do you mean this is a by-law (or restrictive covenant, or local council ruling etc) or just that you don't want to build a higher fence? Either way, you might be able to put a run of trellis on top of the existing fence, to raise the height and provide a degree of privacy, without breaking any rules about fences - usually they mean "solid height". Trells lets wind and rain through, but is surprisingly good at keeping nosy people out. I have large-mesh trellis all along the back of my small garden, and I am constantly amazed that people walking along the path there so very rarely look into my garden, even though it is really very open. It's as if they perceive the trellis as a fence, and respect it, even though it is very open. (Except for one woman who always stops to have a good look when she passes. I have taken to waving at her, in the hopes of embarassing her.)

    Once you have trellis on top of the fence, it is easy to train a climber along the trellis section for privacy: clematis, honeysuckle, or even a climbing rose?

    If you can't add trellis to the fence, you could think about installing a post at each end (you may need some additional posts midway, I don't know how big the garden is) with wires between them, and again, you could train climbers along the wires. This gives some privacy, without being a solid barrier.

    Rosa Rugosa makes a fabulous hedge, and I love the ones with really dark strong flowers, but they don't always make the right height for you. I have one Client who has Rosa Rugosa planted in half-barrel pots, which makes them nearly 2' higher than they would otherwise be: you could perhaps try that trick.

  19. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I really like the trellis idea as a way of getting around 'solid height' restrictions! I also realised you wanted to know some 'pros and cons'. Your rose hedge might produce suckers that might be a problem in your borders as they will try to spread under the soil. I mentioned the issue of winter privacy- a trellis, as Rachel said might be a good solution to that- and a way to grow some more plants. :-) Anyway...what happened to those badgers? They seem to have got lost in the undergrowth....;-)

  20. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    I've created quite a few Living Willow items - lots of fedges (a cross between a hedge and a fence) and a living bowered chair, which was a lot of fun.

    In all cases, and with relation to your question about the strength of Dogwood as a trellis, the trick is to have "corners" in it for structural stability - a long straight run will wobble in the wind as soon as it is more than 3-4' high, but if you can put in a couple of returns (right-angled corners) it suddenly becomes much more stable. It can also help to have a few supporting posts along the way.

    As far as the badgers are concerned, solid hedges = fences, so if you are not able to fence off the garden, then you would equally be unable to surround it with hedges!

    Plus there is the problem of badgers simply shouldering through a newly-planted hedge - you would have to protect it with electric fencing - or pushing through the bottom of an old hedge - which takes us neatly back round to the original post, that badly-maintained hedges with sparse bottoms are a bad thing!

    Talking of electric fencing, Good Earth (do you have a first name?!?) could you try electric fencing on a temporary basis to re-train the badgers away from your garden?

  21. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I have to admit the only bit of 'fedgework' I've done was with willow, but I have never considered actually creating a structure with rose plants. Is that what you mean? I think Dogwood would be fine for a fedge, also hazel is a perhaps another (too obvious?) choice. I wonder whether the roses would be strong enough to use as a support for something else though. They are also pretty vigorous plants and might be better as a simple hedge anyway.

    As regards badgers, this particular garden is very open to the countryside and I don't know whether the owner would be happy to either buy electric fencing, or have it used for aesthetic reasons, but also because they are possibly too sentimental to think of an animal getting an electric shock! Yes, I know...I think the chemical idea might be the best option for me. I did look for some badger poo this morning but found none. Typical! ;-) My name is Gerry, but I was quite enjoying 'Good Earth Lady' earlier!

  22. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I have never tried either of the things you mention, either the badger mesh or the PVC chain link, but I'm sure it would put them off. You'd dig it in before planting your rose hedge so it wouldn't damage the roots. I think you are right about the domesticated rootstocks to solve the runner issue- good idea. As for the hazel, it's a different genus from witch-hazel so it might not graft with hazel but just having a plant in the mix will add some lovely winter fragrance. I hope that helps!

  23. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I have learnt a lot too! :-) It was me who started all of this...

  24. Grower

    Steve Howe

    Electric fencing is the pragmatic answer in the short term and can be quite discreet. I had a badger and rabbit problem in our garden when we first started planting and the solution was to cut bamboo canes to about 18" long and cut a slit about 1" deep in the top end, push the canes in so about 9"-12" is above ground and slip the electric string into the slot, securing with waterproof tape. This can be threaded discreetly between plants or along a hedge bottom and suffices while the plants get established.

    By the by, I planted a hedge of Rosa rubiginosa (sweet briar) a couple of years ago and it has developed into a fearsomely thorny thicket which I think, if the stems were to be pulled down low in the early growing stages and interwoven, would produce a virtually impenetrable hedge. But in reality, not much will stop determined badger!

  25. Grower

    Paul & Valerie Guppy

    We used to have a bit of lawn damage until we started leaving out peanuts for him/her.Now he comes up the ditch,out onto the drive,eats his peanuts and then just goes away again.

  26. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I've just seen this! (Not been on the site for a long time...) Great idea...Maybe I will try it, thanks! :-)

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