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-Bob’s Blog: Fence out four-legged intruders

Whitetail Deer

The wail of homeowners discovering their yards prone to four-legged intruders is all too familiar: “We tried everything to deter deer:  repellents, soap hanging in trees, human hair, even urine. The deer would not leave our gardens alone.”

Experts agree that one of the surest ways to keep deer out is fencing. The type of fence is usually dictated by budget, aesthetics, site conditions and how many months of the year protection is needed.

Prefab deer netting, stretched between metal posts or trees, offers a flexible, lightweight, easy-to-install, less expensive method for low to moderate deer pressure. Netting works well in hilly areas where rigid wire fencing is more difficult to install, and offers temporary solutions, perhaps in spring and fall when deer are more troublesome.

Heavier-duty, ultraviolet light-resistant, polypropylene varieties, often 7 ½-8 feet tall, are available. Nylon cable run horizontally through the top of the netting and three feet above ground (considered deer’s highest impact area) further secures the netting. Stress points where gates are installed usually require larger posts, perhaps anchored in concrete.

More permanent and vulnerable garden settings, such as orchards, vegetable and rose gardens, may mandate sturdier, more expensive woven- , braided- and welded-wire fences, slanted fences, double-row fences or electric fences. Again, wire fences are recommended to be at least 8 feet tall with 12-foot-tall posts to enable them to be buried 3-4 feet.

Slanted fences with repeated parallel single strands of wire, extending outward at a 45-degree angle, need not be as tall as standard fences, requiring deer to clear both the height and width of the fence. Double-row fences 4-5 feet apart also need be only 4-5 feet tall, also playing on deer fears of jumping without landing safely.

While electric fences offer deterrence at generally lower cost than wire fences, their use mandates precautions. Chargers, either 110-volt or battery types, often must be protected from the elements. Desirable chargers emit higher voltage, lower-amperage current at short pulses to “teach deer a lesson.” Plastic polytape fence maximizes visibility and arrests deer curiosity. A type of copper and polyester braided wire, used on horse farms, also works well.

After installation, electric fences should be monitored regularly.

WRITTEN BY

Bob Baird
DHS Landscape Designer/Consultant
Garden Columnist

-Bob’s Blog: Efficient Gardening

Landscaping can get expensive, but it needn’t. Removing old, overgrown trees and shrubs can get pricey, requiring special machinery and labor-intensive manpower.

Insisting on exotic evergreens and hybrid plants often translates to higher prices, including shipping costs for bringing them in from far away.

Use locally grown plant materials well-adapted to southern Indiana’s growing conditions. Designscape grows and nurtures viburnums, hydrangeas, redtwig dogwoods, river birches and Norway spruces—all great for your yard or garden.

For walkways, retaining walls and patios, use local sandstone and limestone found in our parts. Pennsylvania bluestone and northern granite look nice, but are pricey to bring home to Indiana.

Use ground covers such as common periwinkle and pachysandra to reduce erosion, weeds and mulching requirements, and improve moisture retention for all surrounding plants. For plants that like hot, dry conditions, such as sedums, lavender, herbs and spireas, use gravel and rocks for rock gardens, Japanese gardens and herb gardens to cut down on remulching. These plants like rock and gravel.

Use perennial flowers and ground covers that come back year after year, including deer-resistant, drought-tolerant Shasta daisies, Russian sage, coneflowers and bearded irises. Minimize annual flowers to focal-point containers to minimize replacing annual flowers each year.

Use a local landscaper so you’re not paying for long hauls of bulky items at high gasoline costs. Designscape, operating in Bloomington, Brown County and Columbus, is well-positioned to minimize your transportation costs.

Finally, plan ahead. “Think spring” before it gets here. Spring landscaping often gets to be a madhouse. Avoid the frustration and cost of competing with your neighbors by contacting us in late winter. One of our designers will meet you on your home turf, hear your concerns and put you on a path to attractive, sustainable landscaping.

Then, wait for our trained, able technicians, along with the designer, to appear on your doorstep. Problem solved!

-Dry Creek Beds 4 Drainage Solutions

That are lots of variables that determine the quality of drainage around your home.  Often IMPROPER SLOPE (i.e. rise/run) is a commonly overlooked issue when installing a new landscape.  Proper drainage systems are a difficult for the home owner and contractor to come to terms on.  It’s a expense that can be quite costly and is usually all buried underground and gives no asetic benifit to the home.  Designscape’s favorite solution is to use the skill of grading to revert water to more ideal locations.  A great way is through a dry creek bed.  Installation methods vary but the best method is the look at one built by mother nature and try to recreate it.

-Seed and Bed Preparation

The soil you use to prepare beds and turf areas is more vaulable than a lifetime of fertilzer after the fact.  Mixing compost into your topsoil is the best way to add OM and encourage healthy root growth. The first and second week of September is ideal time for cool season grass like fescue.  Here’s a picture of a lawn in the spring that we aerated, overseeded, and spread 2-4-3 poultry castings.  All fertilization is 100% ORGANIC WITH DHS ENHANCED COMPOST TEA.