Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Raccoons visited the backyard at our old house only twice a year or so. They upset the cats but did no damage to the garden. The same cannot be said of the raccoons who visit us now. For one thing, these raccoons show up more nights than not. They steal the dirty garden gloves I leave out on the back porch. They pull seashells out of the upper tier of our fountain, depositing them about the yard. They tear up sections of lawn.
After rains, when the soil is wet, they leave torn pieces of lawn here, there and everywhere. I replace the torn sections, only to find them torn up again the following day. The grass, which isn't in good shape to begin with, is left with large bare spots. If they'd take out all the lawn in one area, I'd hire them (all the grubs they can eat!). However, they're inclined to spread their efforts over disconnected sections of lawn.
Most annoying, they love to pull up new plants.
Luckily, I found this Anemone shortly after it was uprooted but that's not always the case.
They seem to have a particular attraction to one of my raised vegetable beds. They've pulled out the broccoli and onion transplants three times. The lettuce seeds I carefully planted around the broccoli are probably a lost cause. I thought the relative bareness of the bed might be part of the attraction so I added some snapdragons and Alyssum to the bed to make it appear a little fuller, only to have them toss the flowers around too. I've replanted the bed (again) but I have no idea if or how long they'll leave the it alone. The broccoli remains stunted.
The navel and Mandarin oranges on the citrus trees adjacent to the vegetable beds are ripening and there are signs that they've attracted the attention of the raccoons. (They apparently don't care for guava.) I don't mind sharing the citrus harvest if it means that they'll leave the lawn and my new plantings alone. Other than enticing them away from one kind of plant with another, do you have any good ideas for controlling raccoons in the garden?
I know, I know. People in deer country have it a lot worse. The only really difficult animals in our immediate area are the coyotes - sadly, a neighbor recently lost a Silky Terrier to one - but we have yet to see one on-site. Maybe the raccoons have earmarked our yard as their territory and the coyotes are keeping their distance. If so, I suppose I should see them as a blessing.
Note: The raccoon picture at the top of the post isn't one I took. I got it off the web from a collection of photos in the public domain. Our raccoons are a lot bigger and badder than this fellow.