Green Scene

Chucking Woodchucks, Hedging on Hedge Spaces

By Joel M. Lerner
Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's time again to answer your garden questions.

Q: Our property abuts woods, and we have been plagued with groundhogs living under a ground-level deck. We would appreciate any advice on getting rid of them, having used traps and driven them miles away. They come back. -- Lynn DeLacy

A: Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, are a tough pest to control. In many areas, trapping animals and releasing them elsewhere isn't permitted. Try the following measures to discourage the groundhogs from living under your deck. Dig a hole one foot wide and one foot deep around the deck. Take a heavy one-inch-square wire mesh fence and bend the bottom 12 inches at a 90-degree angle. Insert it in the hole so the bent portion goes out from the deck, forming sort of a backward "L" underground and preventing the groundhogs from digging under your deck.

Use a groundhog repellent as a perimeter treatment, from about 18 inches away to as far as you can reach under the deck. One safe repellent is Groundhog Stopper.

Q: I have a small arbor in a wooded area that I wish to partially cover with a vine. Can you recommend some? -- Ann B. Powers

A: I have had success in woodland areas with the vines listed below. All are rapid growers and will produce healthy foliage in shade, but flowering and fruiting diminishes in low light.

-- Actinidia (A. kolomitka), or kiwi fruit, is a dioecious plant, requiring a male and female to produce fruit. It has an entwining habit.

-- Five-leaf akebia (A. quinata) is a woody, twining vine with compound leaves. It produces chocolate-purple-colored flowers as it leafs out.

-- Cross-vine (Bignonia capreolata) climbs with tendrils that pull the vine onto an arbor and can cover it in one growing season. Its flowers are a striking deep red to orange-brown in May.

-- American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) gets quite woody and will wind its way through an arbor without need for much training. Its fragrant lilac-purple flowers open April to May.

Q: I have 20-year-old boxwoods in the front of my house. They are growing over my sidewalk and take up too much space. I would like to transplant them. Do you have any recommendations? -- Shelley Fry

A: Begin with a renewal pruning of your overgrown boxwoods, creating smaller, fuller shrubs. Start this summer by cutting branches from inside plants. This will allow sunlight inside the boxwoods, promoting growth on bare wood. This season, cut no more than 25 percent of the widest and tallest branches. Repeat at the end of February, pruning no more than one-third of the greenery. The following year, February 2011, your boxwoods will have more foliage on inside branches. Shape shrubs by removing the remaining older branches.

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