Discouraging Voles the Pretty Way

by Daisy

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I wish I could say controlling voles, or getting rid of voles, but I can’t.  The best I can manage is politely discouraging them.

But it isn’t bad because the method I’m using has other benefits, flowers, for one.

I’m planting narcissus (daffodil) bulbs along the perimeter of the garden.  Voles dislike narcissus, I like them, so it’s a win both ways.  Plus, I didn’t have to spend any money because I’m transplanting daffs from an area where they aren’t doing well to a nice area with better soil and especially, much more sunshine.  They’re tiny, but I hope they will get bigger over the years now they are divided and in an improved location.

They’re practically antiques since they were likely planted around 80 years ago.  I like the idea of giving them a new lease on life. Their former location was too shaded.  It even had shade from a huge evergreen, so early Spring sunlight was out of the question as well. No wonder they weren’t blooming anymore.

Planting bulbs in this way is a technique borrowed from permaculture.  Planted around a garden, or around an orchard or an individual fruit or nut tree, they keep the grass down.  This is good because grass competes with the garden plants for nutrients and water during the growing season.  If the spring bulbs are planted at the perimeter of the garden plants (outside the drip line of trees), they don’t hog the water but keep the weeds back.

Hopefully another function, besides being pretty, will be to keep the odd vole away. I’m not holding my breath, but it would be a nice side benefit.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie at Prepared to Eat February 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

I think daffodils are my favorite because they are an old family favorite, but mostly because they are the first promise that winter is over. And if they can serve double duty, even better!

Star February 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Sounds lovely to me. I was bitten by a vole once and it hurt! The little bugger was in my pool and I was in a hurry and scooped it up with my hand – Big Mistake.
I still have the little scars, but I like to tell the story. Most people have no idea what a vole is. They are beautiful little creatures – so soft and very cute. Nasty though – but if I were a vole, I would probably be the same way to scare off those bigger than me. 🙂

Daisy February 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Star–Ow! Vole bite! Thanks for the warning!

Leisa February 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

Cool! I wonder if other bulbs work? I have grape hyacinths taking over my yard that I could move around…

Daisy February 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

Leisa–From what I hear, voles also avoid daylilies, iris, snowdrops, and alliums. Here’s a research project that tested voles’ preferences for various bulbs: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/19/3/499.full
Apparently they don’t like grape hyacinths either, so good news! (Just don’t dip them in applesauce!???!)

Star February 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

I know mice HATE mint and having that planted around is a good way to discourage mice – and mint oil around doors, etc. Maybe voles hate mint as well?

Lisa February 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

I count myself as lucky, as we don’t have any problems with voles, mice, etc. Before we moved here we had roof rats. They were everywhere, big and very destructive! Too smart for traps. The entire neighborhood had problems with them.

I did stop feeding birds in my yard. They were so messy, and picky, leaving seeds all over the ground. I was afraid it would draw vermin, there’s an empty field behind me.

Nathan February 25, 2013 at 6:22 am

We must have the vole from hell. We have daffodils planted all over the yard, front and back, and it has done nothing to discourage the destruction beneath our feet. Its even challenged me by popping out of the ground in front of me and disappearing before I could bop it on the head with the gardening trowel.

guesthouse dweller March 15, 2013 at 7:57 am

Yes – Daisy & I have so much trouble with moles and voles. Last year I thought that I had it under control – I put down grub be gone and mole scat granulars. But lucky me, this year 5 dogs (yes 5) moved in next door and ran them all my way – and with the 3 dogs behind my house as well they are having too much fun at mine and Daisy’s homes. So the fight has already begun again this year. So sorry little cute, fuzzy varmits – it is me & my garden or you and your tunnels – you WILL be defeated this year! I have turned into Yosimite Sam, got my pistolies ready! LOL

Daisy March 15, 2013 at 11:06 am

g–Cats brought me a vole a couple of days ago. One down, 99 to go.

Amy Schmucker April 25, 2013 at 4:38 am

Just finished reading your book cover to cover. I love it and glad i purchased it.

Anyways, Here in Florida we have Florida gophers and moles. Black snakes and corn snakes are good for keeping them under control. And when the Gophers hills start popping up like popcorn, Hubby brings out the tractor and atv. The vibrations from large equipemnt (tillers work awesome) will scare them to run out and find new homes. They can dig up to a mile a day. So they do have other places to live other than your garden. Major road construction has been scaring them up into our neighborhood so we just gotta deal with it until they can get their homes (tunnels) back.

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