August "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

August “In The Grow”

Q. We have moles all over our yard. I’ve tried mole beans, match heads, even moth Balls. Nothing works. We can’t walk in our yard without sinking down into a tunnel. Linda Bridges, Columbus, Ind.

A. Moles eat earthworms, beetle grubs, ants and other animals that live in the soil. They generally do not eat,bulbs or the roots of plants. Still, the runways can damage our garden plants by exposing the roots to air and can, damage our ankles as we walk across the yard. The number of mounds or ridges seen in a yard is not indicative of how many moles you have. Generally, one acre of land will support no more than two or three moles at one time. If your yard is surrounded by large tracts of forested areas or weedy fields, then it can support even more moles. Many home “remedies” exist but most are ineffective on moles. Trapping is the MOST reliable method of mole control.

It requires patience, practice and persistence. Begin by looking for a main runway. Look for runways that follow a fairly straight course for some distance; appear to connect two mounds or two runway systems; follow fences, walls or other artificial borders; or follow a woody perimeter of a field or yard. Poke small holes into the runway.

If you have actually located a main runway, moles will repair thesewithin a day or two. Harpoon traps should be set and checked daily. Tamp down the soil with your foot before placing the trap. Be sure it is centered over the runway and the supporting spikes do not cut into the tunnel below. Take care not to tread on or disturb any other portion of the runway system. Check and reset the trap daily.

One reader suggested a home remedy of water, salt and ammonia. I’m glad he wrote and is gardening successfully, but I can’t reprint the recipe here. These kinds of

remedies, including gasoline, kerosene and mothballs, can be bad for our environment, the applicator and any plant roots they contact. At most, they merely reroute the moles. Keep on trapping!

Q. We have a 20-year-old planting of blue rug juniper that used to be thick and beautiful. We’ve trimmed it a lot, but it is getting leggy with a lot of bare stems. It is shaded more than it used to be, but probably still gets four hours of sun. It’s a pretty extensive planting, and we hate to think of replacing it. Can it be renovated? – Joann K. Fox, Zionsville, Ind.

A. Junipers require full sun, which is a minimum of six hours per day. Can you increase the amount of sun it receives? It may help, but junipers do tend to decline after

five or 10 years, so it may be an uphill battle. Prune the tips back, provide adequate nutrition and water, and try to increase the sunlight available. If the plants still don’t look better by next summer, you’ll have to consider replacing them.


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