buffalograssdormant.jpgLast year, I put several hundred bulbs into our new buffalo grass lawn, only to have the squirrels feast on many of them. I’d not had too much trouble with squirrels eating my bulbs in the past, and I always attributed that to the fact that I have soil that is pretty heavy, more to the clay side. Digging in my soil is a bit more of a chore for them than in someone else’s sandy soil. This was my rationale for not taking any defensive action (repellent, barrier, etc) with the bulbs in the lawn. Sigh…I think the high volume in such a small area of recently amended lighter soil turned out to be just too tempting for them. Plus, after planting the bulbs, we didn’t receive any snow to cover the ground for months. So the squirrels had an easy time detecting the newly dug holes and had many months over which to “harvest.” (See the many squirrel-dug holes in the photo.)

So….

chickenwire.jpgHave I given up?? No way! Optimistically, I ordered about 200 bulbs this past summer, and they arrived a few weeks ago. On planting day, I stopped by the hardware store to purchase my new line of defense. Chicken wire. Over the years I’ve seen catalogs selling wire baskets that gardeners can use to protect their bulbs, but that always seemed impractical for planting more than a few bulbs (you are supposed to dig a hole big enough to bury the whole wire cage with the bulbs inside). But that technique gave me the idea of planting my bulbs in the lawn and then covering the planted area with chicken wire fencing. It wouldn’t be attractive, and it could be hazardous to walk over (we might catch our shoes or pant legs on the cut wires on the sides), but we don’t spend much time walking around the backyard in the late fall or winter, so I was willing to risk it.

I didn’t order as many bulbs as last year because I decided not to plant over the entire lawn area this time, mostly because I knew I’d be too cheap to buy enough chicken wire to cover the whole yard. But after a couple of hours of hard work (planting bulbs is always hard work, don’t you think?), I had 100 square feet of the lawn planted with a mixture of species tulips, tiny irises (Iris reticulata), and crocuses. I attached the loose edges of the chicken wire with those cheap landscape staples. (At first I considered planting the bulbs and then going to purchase the chicken wire….what was I thinking?? I could almost imagine a squirrel up in the tree trying to practice mind control on me when I thought of that one. “Plant the bulbs, Carey….then go away for an hour or so…they’ll be fine…”)

This method, of course, was only possible because I was planting bulbs in one big flat area covered only by nearly dormant grass. When I need to plant bulbs more traditionally, in existing flower beds and other areas not easily covered by chicken wire, I have success with digging the hole, putting in the bulb(s), squirting with a repellent called “Ropel,” dumping in a good tablespoon or so of cayenne powder (bought in bulk for cheap), and then backfilling the soil. I just can’t imagine doing this for hundreds of bulbs (especially not the number I did last fall).

So! I’ll report back on this project in the spring. I hope I have better news this time.

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