Change your yard to keep pests away; learn more at Jamestown Garden Fair

deer eating in winter
Photo illustration by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Physical barriers such as tall fencing may be too expensive for you, and repellents that have to be reapplied may get pricey, too, said Nancy Jager, Master Gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County.

But a relatively inexpensive method of discouraging pests is by modifying their habitat.

Jager will present “Deer in my Dahlias, Voles in my Turnips: Preventing Wildlife Damage in the Garden” during the GROW Jamestown Garden Fair and Home Show to be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 2 at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, 319 W 3rd St.,  Jamestown.

While the event has been focused on gardening in the past, this year home improvement features have been added. There will be about 50 vendors.

See the list of presenters below.

Change the habitat in your yard

In a phone interview, Jager said that a good way to discourage pests is by changing the habitat you offer in your yard. That’s something you as a gardener have control over.

“Homeowners can plant what they like in their yard,” Jager pointed out. You can modify your landscape to discourage pests from breeding and living there.

If deer are a problem for you, find out what deer like to eat, and avoid those plants. Instead, choose plants that deer rarely eat.

Placement of plants can also be important, such as with meadow voles, which Jager has in her own yard.

Meadow voles have underground tunnels, but they also have travel lanes or runways or paths on the surface, she said. Find those paths and eliminate tall grass, weedy areas and overhanging vegetation. Keep a clear space along the house that’s about 10 inches wide. Don’t plant anything there; just have mulch.

“I used to have a lot of English ivy between my sidewalk and the house,” Jager said, “and I think that provided cover for the meadow voles.” When she got rid of the ivy, it seemed to decrease the number of voles in her yard.

Learn more about pests in the Cornell publication Nuisance Wildlife Management for Home Gardens and Landscape Plantings.

Jager will discuss deer and rabbits as well as voles, moles and shrews and the differences between them. Depending on what audience members would like to hear about, she will also address skunks, woodchucks, squirrels and chipmunks.

Workshop schedule

11:00 – 11:45 a.m.

Front Yard Design: Steven Sandberg, Sandberg Kessler Architecture PC

Energy Conservation in Your Home: Dan Reynolds, Jamestown BPU Energy Efficiency coordinator

Raised Garden Bed Construction & Care: Larry Kestner, 40+year gardener

Noon to 12:45 p.m.

Tree Selection & Planting: Lori Brockelbank, certified arborist

Help With Your “Honey-Do” List – Q&A with a Contractor: Paul Marlinski, general contractor

Seed Starting & Vegetable Gardening: Jim Cowan, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Chautauqua County Master Gardener  Volunteer

1-1:45 p.m.

Deer in My Dahlias, Voles in My Turnips – Prevention & Control of Wildlife Damage in Your Garden: Nancy Jager, CCE  Chautauqua County Master Gardener  Volunteer

Home Improvements Through Weatherization–More Than Just Windows: Steve Nichols, Chautauqua Opportunities, construction manager

Ask a Master Gardener (Panel): Reg Boutwell, Jim Cowan, Patricia Martonis, Mary Rees and Steve Rees, all CCE  Chautauqua County Master Gardener  Volunteers

2-2:45 p.m.

Native Plants – Why Plants That Were Growing Locally Before Columbus Landed are Good for Your Garden Today: Mary Rees, CCE  Chautauqua County Master Gardener  Volunteer

Saving the Harvest – Canning and Freezing Basics: Cheryl Wahlstrom, CCE Chautauqua County Master Food Preserver Volunteer

Gardening For Every Body: Joint Aches? Back Pain? Use a Wheelchair?  Garden Tools and Techniques to Make Gardening Fun Again: Patricia Martonis, CCE  Chautauqua County Master Gardener  Volunteer

3-3:45 p.m.

Rain Garden Design, Installation, & Maintenance: Betsy Burgeson, Chautauqua Institution, supervisor of Gardens and Landscape

Lead Safe Renovations in the Home: Brent Sheldon, Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services, P.H.S., C.R.A.

Developing a Landscape & Planting Plan: Rod Drake, landscape architect

6 Comments on “Change your yard to keep pests away; learn more at Jamestown Garden Fair

  1. deer, rabbits, voles, etc. will not bother Salvias, Sages, Penstemons, Agastaches and native columbine

  2. I came across an interesting thing,using Milorganite as a deer repellent. I did a bit of research on it with my clients who marveled at the way and ease which Milorganite repelled the animals. I then contacted the Milorganite company representative and he sent me the test trials that Cornell did using Milorganite on Tulips, Hosta, and Taxus and found that it was indeed very effective as a deer repellent. The benefit was two-fold; use the Milorganite as it was intended, a fertilizer. While fertilizing your plants; it repels the deer. The problem was the federal agency that regulates these things would only allow it to be listed as a fertilizer. I don’t recommend it’s use in vegetable gardens, but with favourite shrubs and plantings, definitely.

  3. Keeping a path free of plants around the house has other benefits as well. One important reason is for the health of plants themselves. Excessive roof runoff is avoided as is falling ice. Just make sure the path is wider than the distance of the overhang of the roof. Mulch is fine but so is creating the walkway as a splash guard using modular paving or natural stone. This path also provides a place to access plants for routine plant or building maintanence.

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