6 Ways to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

Bkeep rabbits out of your gardenaby bunnies are really cute, there’s no doubt about that! But rabbits can be such an annoyance in your garden! They just go ahead and help themselves to all your plants (hosta gardens and vegetable gardens included)!

The least they could do is ask before helping themselves, but we both know that’s not the case. They usually chew off new shoots of leaves and flowers, leaving your plant nearly leaf-less or flower-less.

For this blog post, I will be focusing on how to keep rabbits out of your garden without harming them in any way.

 

Having a rabbit or two may seem like a minor problem at first, but what you may not realize is that a single rabbit can have 18 off-spring in one year. Suddenly, that minor problem turns into a major problem when a whole family of off-spring producing rabbits settles in next to your garden. Your plants won’t stand a chance!

Below, I have a list of 6 ways to keep rabbits out of your garden that will hopefully be of great help to you. These ways have worked for other people in the past, so it’s just a matter of finding out what works best for you to keep rabbits out of your garden.

6 Ways to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden:

1. Put a tall (about two feet high) chicken wire fence around your garden. The rabbits won’t be able to get through the holes of the fence, so this should keep them out. The only downside to this method is that you have the not-so-pretty fence surrounding your beautiful garden.

2. Sprinkle cayenne pepper on the foliage of the plants. Rabbits do not like the taste of cayenne pepper, so they won’t eat the leaves with it sprinkled on them. You will have to remember to reapply the pepper after it rains, though.

3. Sprinkle hair around your plants. This hair can be human, cat, dog, whatever. The rabbits won’t like the hair and will hopefully leave your plants alone.

4. Commercial repellents. Garden stores have a bunch of rabbit repellents you can buy to help keep the rabbits out of your garden. Many of them contain urine and blood from coyotes and foxes. Most are applied using a sprayer.

keep rabbits out of your garden

HostasDirect Owner Tom Carlson’s cat, Simba

5. Used cat litter. Sprinkle some used cat litter around the circumference of your garden. This should help keep rabbits out of your garden because they won’t like the smell of cat urine.

6. Get a cat! The cat will chase those rabbits right of your garden. This is probably one of the best ways to keep rabbits out of your garden.

 

There you have it, 6 ways that will hopefully keep rabbits out of your garden. It may take a combination of several methods to get rid of these pests. It’s kind of trial and error until you find out what works best for you.

Check out our website for more information on garden pests: https://www.hostasdirect.com/learn/hosta-pests/

As always, comment below with any other tips you have to keep rabbits out of your garden that don’t include shooting them!

8 Steps for Growing Hostas in Containers

Planting hostas in containers is a growing trend. Not only do they grow successfully in containers, they look great as well. Container hostas work great for small urban spaces, around a pool, or on a patio/deck in your backyard.

We have put together a list of 8 steps to having beautiful container hostas.

hosta in round container

1.    Select a container for your hosta. Hostas do great in several different container shapes, but make sure to keep the mature size of your hosta in mind when selecting a container size.

This will not only save you time and energy replanting down the road, but it will ensure that your hosta has enough room to grow.

2.    After you select a container, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.

If the container doesn’t come with pre-drilled holes, you can always add them using a power drill. It is recommended to have at least one, but two or three are ideal.

3.    Add a layer of rocks at the bottom of the container. This will aid in drainage and prevent soil from falling through the drilled holes.

4.    Fill the container with nutrient rich, easy draining soil.container hosta with ivy

5.    Plant your hosta in the container. Container hostas look great alone or with ivy hanging down the side of the pot. Just make sure that any other plants you add to your hosta container have relatively similar growing conditions.

Hostas prefer to be kept in shade to partial sun, so it wouldn’t be recommended to add a plant that requires full sun.

 

6.    Water your container hosta regularly, especially in times of extreme heat and wind. Hostas like to have moist soil, but they don’t do well with drenched soil (this can cause their roots to rot). Watering once every one or two days should be good.

7.    Fertilize regularly since the nutrients in the soil will wash away with watering.

8.    Enjoy your beautiful potted hostas for years to come!

potted hosta

*Note: It’s necessary for container hostas to go through a winter dormancy just like those planted in the ground. Don’t leave the containers outside.

Instead, they should be brought into an unheated garage or porch for the winter months. Once the threat of frost is over, your containers can go back outside for the upcoming season.

Comment below with any questions or experience you’ve had growing hostas in containers!

Shade Gardens

Shade GardenDo you have a shady trouble spot in your yard? Don’t give up hope on these bare patches. Turn these trouble spots into thriving gardens by choosing shade-tolerant plants that are both colorful and easy to maintain.

How much shade?

Categorize your shady spots as light, partial, or dense shade. Partial shade receives some direct sun for a few hours of the day, while dense shade is shaded throughout the entire day.

To add just a little more light, try thinning a tree by pruning a select few branches, bearing in mind that this may need to be repeated every few years.

SoilBeneath Trees

There are additional considerations that complicate shady spots beneath trees. The thick canopy of a tree not only blocks out light, but moisture as well, leaving the soil dry and compacted. If this is the case in your shady spot, spread compost over the area several inches deep. In a year or two, earthworms will move in and help loosen up the compacted subsoil. Wait until you have a loose, crumbly soil before you begin planting. If you don’t have the patience, English ivy (Hedera helix) will grow under such difficult conditions.

Hostas and Heucheras

Design your shade garden

Once you’ve chosen your plants, arrange them from tallest to shortest, with the tallest in the back of the bed. One suggestion is a shade tolerant understory tree such as red or sugar maple or black elder, followed by shrubs like gray dogwood, and filled out with a groundcover of coral bells and hostas.

Hostas and coral bells are particularly well suited to shade gardens as they provide a punch of color to an area that might otherwise be monochromatic and dull.

Plants grown in shade generally are not as dense, have fewer flowers, and their fall colors may not be as vibrant as those grown in full sun. They may also require more supplemental water, but the reward for your efforts is turning a drab, barren patch in your yard into a vibrant and colorful garden bed.

Sources:

http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/xj0028.pdf

All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Resource for Every Gardner, Fern Marshall Bradley and Barbara W Ellis, Editors

 

 

 

Shade Gardens with Hostas and Heucheras

Shade Garden Do you have a shaded trouble spot in your yard? Do you lack vegetation beneath your mature trees? Brighten up this neglected area of your lawn with plants that do well in shade, such as hostas and heucheras.

 

Soil QualitySoil

First, check the soil to determine if it needs improvement. The best soil is well-drained and moist. Test your soil by wetting it thoroughly with your garden hose. Wait for 24 hours and then squeeze a handful in your hand. If the soil forms a ball that maintains its shape, but breaks easily when poked, your soil is ideal as it is and does not need improvement. If the ball of soil collapses rather than maintaining its shape, it likely contains too much sand. If the ball of soil maintains its shape even after poking it, refusing to break up, then the soil likely contains too much clay. Whether your soil has too much sand or too much clay, adding organic matter such as peat moss or compost will improve it.

pH Level

Next, check your soil’s pH level and fertility. pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity. A measurement of 7 is neutral. Measurements lower than 7 indicate that your soil is acidic, with zero being the most acidic, while measurements higher than 7 indicate your soil is alkaline, with 14 being the most alkaline.

pH

Each plant species has an ideal pH range for optimal growth. Generally, a neutral pH of 7 is ideal as this is the range at which bacteria are able to decompose organic matter in the soil, releasing nutrients that are then available for your plants, and the ideal range in which microorganisms are able to convert free nitrogen in the atmosphere into a mineral form available to plants. If your soil is acidic, add lime, which is readily available at your local garden store. Bear in mind that hostas like acidic soil. If your soil is alkaline, add compost or manure. You can get a pH testing kit at your local garden store. Make this part of your annual gardening preparations as pH levels can change over time.

Determining the Shape and Size of Your Shade Garden

Use a garden hose as a flexible means of laying out the edges of your shade garden. Once you have determined a satisfying shape, use flour as a non-toxic means of laying out a “chalk” outline of your garden bed. Use a sharp spade to dig along this outline.

If the bed is currently covered in turf, soak the area thoroughly and strip the turf using a straight-edged shovel. Once the soil is exposed, use the shovel or a power tiller to loosen it. If your shade garden bed is large, you can also use a power till to the turf into the soil, using that organic matter to improve the soil. Whichever method you chose, use the opportunity to add amendments to improve the soil. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches, or up to 12 inches if you are able.

Next, soak the bed thoroughly and wait 7 days to allow weed seeds to germinate and sprout. Remove these seedlings or till them back into the soil.

EdgingEdging

Keep grass and other vegetation from encroaching on your shade garden with edging. There are a variety of options to choose from, including stone, brick, metal and plastic. If your shade garden is bordered by grass, consider including a mowing strip to your edging consisting of 6- 12-inches of brick or stone laid into the ground even with the soil level.

Planting

Working with potted plants enables you to lay them out within your garden bed and experiment with their placement until you find an arrangement that pleases you the most. Read the tags that accompany the plants to ensure correct spacing and placement by height, with the plants that will be tallest when full grown placed at the back of the bed. The bed may appear sparse at first, but will fill in when the plants reach maturity.

When you have settled on an arrangement, start planting with the largest containers and continue by size to the smallest. For hostas and heucheras, set them in your garden bed at the same level they were in the pot. Use your hands to firm the soil around each plant and then soak thoroughly.

Mulch

Mulch conserves moisture, prevents soil erosion during rainfall, and keeps plant roots cool. Organic mulches such as wood chips or shredded bark will decompose over time, adding organic matter to the soil, and thus require occasional replenishment. Gravel or crushed stone are more permanent but do not amend the soil. A thick layer of mulch will prevent weeds from becoming established.

Maintaining Your Shade GardenShade Garden

During the first two weeks, water your shade garden thoroughly every other day, and then twice a week for the rest of the first growing season. Thereafter you may water as needed. Weed regularly during the first growing season. Once the plants mature, there will be less space for weeds to encroach.

Sources:

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plans/shade/shade-garden-plan/

http://www.gardenersnet.com/atoz/ph.htm

 

Growing Hostas by Trees

Millions of hosta lovers grow hostas under trees, but there are some things to consider.

Every variety of tree grows differently.  Some trees’ roots grow near or above the soil surface and some grow further into the ground.  Some trees are sensitive to soil changes, while others are not.   Keep in mind that a tree’s roots often extend out to the edge of the tree’s crown (leaf growth) of the tree.

The positives:

  • Hostas by trees may get morning sun, late afternoon sun, or filtered light, all of which are ideal. They are more likely to be protected from the intense overhead sun from about noon to 4:30.
  • Hostas may get some hail protection.
  • You can reduce or eliminate the need for weeding or cutting grass around a tree.
  • The base of your tree will look more attractive.

The negatives:

  • Competition for moisture and nutrients—the soil may already be partially depleted, and tree roots can wrap around hosta roots.
  • It may be difficult to dig a hole due to dense tree roots.   (Our garden trowel can help.)
  • Hostas under trees may not get enough light.  Hostas do need some light!   For less light, select a dark green or blue hosta as these varieties have more chlorophyll.

Solutions:

  • Some hosta lovers plant their hostas in containers in the ground to protect the hosta from tree roots.   The container must allow for adequate growth of the hosta’s rhizomes (roots) and have good drainage.  About twice a year, turn the container about 120 degrees in case any tree roots are getting into the drainage holes.   You can also cut out the bottom of the pot.
  • Provide extra water and fertilizer.