Gopher protection for roses?

hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)May 29, 2011

Dear rose friends,

I believe I have trapped all of the gophers that were ravaging my back garden, where I intend to plant Munstead Wood and Carding Mill. I have collapsed the tunnels I can find.

They will be back.

I have an idea: Cut large plastic trash barrels in half and remove the bottoms. They are over two feet in diameter. I will dig a huge round hole, two feet deep, slide in the trash can with no bottom, line the bottom with 1/4 inch hardware cloth coming up the sides of the barrel a little, and plant the roses inside.

Do you think this is enough space for the roots of a fully-grown rose? Should I make the hole wider or deeper and use a different material? Would you use native soil (soil here is PERFECT- not clay) or would you mix in some cactus mix and potting soil to give it better drainage?

Any other suggestions appreciated.


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jerijen(Zone 10)

Renee -- that should work perfectly.
You could also buy very large "squat" nursery pots, and cut the bottoms out of those. Or do as my DH does, and drill them full of 3/4-in holes like swiss cheese.

FWIW, I read somewhere that gophers don't go deeper than about 18-inches (but if there ARE gophers that go deeper, I'd probably get them). However, another, similar "bane" is ground squirrels. We have them, too, and they are perhaps an even worse problem. I hate them, too.

I learned the other day that, in pursuit of ground squirrel eradication, the Los Angeles Parks Dept. distributed poison all over at least one high-use County Park. Now, they're trying to remove the stuff ... good luck to all who might use THAT park!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Renee, I make chicken wire cylinders a bit larger than the nursery can I'm planting, folding in the bottom so the gopher has a harder time getting through, then wrap the soil ball and plant as usual. Though I kind of like the idea of putting them in the trash cans, the plastic sides will prevent water from moving through the soil and watering your rose. I've heard people say the wire breaks down, but I am digging up wire baskets put in this hill 25 years ago that are still structurally sound. The plants put in them weren't. I bought a 150' roll of 2' chicken wire at True Value Hardware for $48 plus tax, a whale of a lot better price than at Home Depot!. I set up some concrete blocks and a pipe to make a holder, like a paper towel holder so I roll off the amount I want, cut it off with a pair of old clippers and cobble the cage up. I have a stack of them to the side so I grab one, dig the hole, un can the plant, slip it on and fold the top over the root ball and plant. There's a lot of water which flows through this hill. If that will water for me, I WANT it! Kim

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 4:42PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

I confess to a sneaking liking for ground squirrels. We raised one little baby who had lost its mother to adulthood and released it when she let us know she was ready. Even then she stayed around for some time and would sit on my shoulder every once in a while and eat from my hand. Many people don't realize that they're a prime food source for raptors and many eagles and hawks would starve without this food source. Of course, we have very few so I can afford to be magnanimous......Gophers are a whole other story and I hate the dearly.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I've gone the gopher basket route myself. I buy "gopher wire" similar to chicken wire, but a bit heavier gauge and a 3/4" mesh. Last year we (this job requires heavier duty muscles than I have) dug up a large percentage of the roses already planted in the ground and put them back into the ground into gopher baskets made up of the 3' wire. When I plant bands (and I've probably put 30 new ones in the ground so far this year) I put them into baskets made out of the 2' gopher wire.

I've already bought and used at least 2 rolls of the 3' wire and 3-4 rolls of the 2' wire.

The basket method I was taught is to cut a piece the same length as the height of the wire. Then fold it selvedge to selvedge. Then crimp both ends together. Then push the middle open, make a triangle of each end and fold it under. Wait, wait???? Is that exactly the same method Kim mentioned above. Probably. It's just that I go ahead and make the baskets into baskets and store them in big piles in the shed so I can just grab one or two or three when I'm on a planting tear....


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Dang! Susan, I'm jealous! YOU have a shed? YOU have some level space to PUT a shed? This place ranges from about a 10% grade to nealy vertical! LOL! I am SO jealous! Kim

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Well, now that you mention it, I probably am a more than usually lucky person, aren't I?????? I sometimes forget that, so I'm happy to be reminded.

Did I mention that I painted the shed blue?


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Braggart! LOL! Kim

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 1:15AM
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I just moved 2 months ago to gopher central, Sebastopol, (near Susan/landperson by the way), and this whole gardening with gophers is new to me. I found a local guy that makes his own gopher cages and delivers, cheaper than purchasing from any of the stores. They are rounded and shaped just like a pot with a 2-3" flared out edge at the top, in 1 gal, 5 gal and 20 gal sizes. I purchased 150 so far, will go through that in no time since I brought about 65 roses, 80 daylilies and over 125 iris with me when we moved plus several hundred other plants. Yikes!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 1:40PM
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Dang Sue! NOW, I'm jealous of your ready-made gopher cages! I have to cobble them as I require them, it ain't fun. Good luck! Kim

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:09PM
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Sue ~ I live in Santa Rosa and will be planting over 20 roses as well as a bunch of dahlias and other plants. I'm considering making my own cages, but would love to get the information about the guy you found. It may be worth it to buy them instead! Would you mind sharing his contact information? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:04AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

If your gopher problem is REALLY bad, you might consider planting your roses in 20-G black plastic nursery pots, drilled all over with 3/4-in holes, and lowered into the ground.

It's not ideal, as there will be a period when it inhibits the growth of the rose, but you will definitely frustrate the gophers.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 3:59PM
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