I have some critter in my garden that is eating the roots of my nandinas. The...

Asked July 20, 2013, 10:32 PM EDT

I have some critter in my garden that is eating the roots of my nandinas. The plants look wilted and are leaning, but if you touch them, they fall over. The roots look as if they have been cut straight across---as if a saw had been used. Other plants have had the roots eaten away, such as hostas and euonymous. I know I have moles, but they are herbivores. Are these voles, ground hogs, or something else? And what is an effective way to deal with them? I have 15 different gardens on my property, so special earth or jagged stones would be impractical. Trapping is no good because I am not allowed to kill or deport them according to DNR. I have lost lots of plants to whatever it is and I really don't want to keep replacing them only to have them killed, too. Please give me some strategies to prevent this continuing problem. Thank you.

Charles County Maryland

1 Response

Yes, it certainly sounds like voles are eating the roots of your plants. Habitat modification and trapping are necessary to reduce their numbers. You need to keep the mulch in your beds to no more than 1". Voles love to tunnel and take cover in deep mulch. Please see the following publication, http://extension.umd.edu/learn/reducing-vole-damage-plants-landscapes-orchards-and-nurseries

You do not need a permit to from the DNR to trap voles. Trap using snap mouse traps baited with peanut butter.
Groundhogs feed on the top portion of plants not the roots.