Help with this spot

forensicmomMarch 3, 2010

We put the pool in 10 years ago and landscaped around it. But, the one spot behind this bench has been a problem for me every year. I have tried ornamental grasses, two different crepe myrtle trees, canna lillies, and majesty palms. The crepe myrtles looked nice but both were destroyed by the voles eating their roots completely.

I don't want something really tall that will shade the pool or my sun loving plants near there but I definately think something with a little height to balance things out would be best. I wish I had a large row of evergreens to hide the fence but that's not possible since I'm not taking everything out.

PLease offer some suggestions for that small area behind the bench. It's only about 5' wide. To me, the only thing I can think of are small trees???

Here's a picture with the 2 year old 'Tonto" crepe myrtle

This is an overall picture. The bench area is all the way to the left

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Not really a question for this Forum. However, voles generally avoid Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus). Easy to keep pruned to desired height.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 8:59AM
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Thanks. If this isn't a question for this forum, where should I post it?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:35AM
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I don't know anything about controlling voles, but vitex would look nice in that spot. But I must say that your pool area is the loveliest I've ever seen.

As for asking your question in another forum, very few are active these days. Even Perennials is very slow.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:15AM
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The Trees or Shrubs forums get some traffic.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:19AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I don't see why this isn't an LD question. Forensicmom will have to find a way to control her voles in order to do her design, but that's true of any pest.

I'm going to disagree on both small tree in general and Vitex in particular. Vitex is hard to keep to 5 feet wide even with annual pruning (ask me how I know) plus it attracts bees like crazy and they will be buzzing right at head level if anyone sits on this bench (does anyone actually sit here, put stuff down here?). I love plants that attract bees, but I don't plan to sit in them.

What you need here is something that will give you height without much width, esp without top width. Standard options are some columnar evergreens, or some trellises against the fence with vines on them. With the vines, as with your small trees, they may tend to grow in the direction of the sun, but if you can get in there to tie them in to the trellises you should be fine. In front of either on the ground you could go with a ground cover plant - stachys perhaps - and some paving stones to allow you to get in there. Some statuary also would be kind of fun.

If voles are just a problem in that area, you could always plant in containers, make the containers the stars of the show since you need a focal point there anyway.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:08PM
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Thanks for the repsonses and the compliment. I did notice that a lot of the other forums were very quiet, which is why I tried here.

I was trying to stay away from another upright evergreen or arbor because I have them about 20' to the right. Here is a picture taken about 2 years ago. The bench area is to the left in the picture.

We do use the bench, especially the kids, so I don't want anything that was really attract the bees. I was just wondering what a hardy banana tree or hardy palm would look like there since everything else is more traditional, not tropical. Since I already have the arbor there, would it look OK to have a large trellis behind the bench?

As far as voles go, yes, they're a problem everywhere in my yard. Since I lost the two trees and a ton of other things, I've had to line all of the holes with wire mesh at planting time. I've tried about 10-15 different poisons and repellants, including castor oil. I've also tried Grub X and milky spore with no luck. I'm a Master Gardner intern in my area and all of the people I've spoke to said there's no real way to control them except by trapping. That didn't work well for me either.

By the way, the playground in the neighbors yard is now gone!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:52PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Best way to control voles? A big 'ol black snake. Do you have those in your area? Perhaps one will come to live in your vole-y yard. I have no problems with voles...until our resident black snake gets killed by a snake-hating neighbor or squished by a car...then it's awful for a year or two until a new black snake moves in. Little known fact...all black snakes are named "Fred" and if you address them nicely they will just give you that long, cool look and slither off.

Grub X and milky spore do nothing for vole control...though they MIGHT help with mole control. Sometimes voles use mole tunnels as superhighways.

Cats do a good job on voles as well...but I keep my kitties indoors to protect them and the birds.

Black snakes aside, I've had really good luck with fine wire mesh and permatil worked into the soil around my prized plants.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:29PM
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I'm so surprised that I have such a problem with voles b/c we have black snakes, garter snakes and a few others that I've seen. I keep my cat indoors as well to protect him from the hawks, racoons, groundhogs, and the fox.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:59PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Perhaps it's just a bad year for voles? I will say...even with a mature blacksnake in residence...every 3-5 years they seem to breed out of control. Then the population crashes and we start all over again.

Maybe this awful winter will do something to reduce the surplus population.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:01PM
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