Northern Michigan Garden Maintenance, Renovation & Design
6829 Herkner Road Traverse City, MI 49685
10 Apr 2014

Vole? Not a Mole?

Many of you have seen our posts about voles, but do you really know what this creature is and what he can do in your garden?

voleMost of us have heard of mole control, but not vole control. Why? Well, the latter gets little recognition but may be making his presence known in your gardens now.

Voles vs. Moles

Many may not know the difference between moles and voles, but even those who are not landscaping enthusiasts have heard of moles.  Most people go their whole lives without ever so much as hearing about these similar-looking pests.   To make matters more confusing, these pests are sometimes referred to as “meadow mice” or “field mice.” But when you identify the damage they cause in lawn and garden alike, you’ll quickly learn that this is no “little” pest control problem.

Since voles are not the only animal pests responsible for runways in lawn and garden areas, they are often confused with these other pests you’d like to get rid of – moles.  Both moles and voles are rarely seen, making more sense to base identification on the signs they leave behind, rather than on how the animals look. After all, you may never come face to face with either of them!


Vole Damage: 

  • Well-defined, visible tunnels, or “runways” at or near the surface, about two inches wide, a result from the voles eating the grass blades, as well as from the constant little feet traffic.
  • White, stripped branches, near or at base of shrub.

Moles Runways:

  • Running just beneath the surface, the feeding tunnels appear as raised ridges running across your lawn.
  • Feeding tunnels network deep below the surface, but are marked by the soil excavated from below.

Voles leave no mounds at all behind. What they do leave behind is this:


(insert-start crying now!)  With the winter we have had, they had a tough one too!  So they made a feast of your shrubs and possibly lawns.

What to do with the vole damage?  Well, if it is in your lawn, you can add some compost and grass seed and soon no one will know the difference.  Your gardens are a different story.

Most importantly, you must remove all damaged wood from your trees & shrubs.  Leaving the damaged, exposed wood is just an invitation to pests and disease, possibly further damaging others in your landscape gardens.

Adding compost and good fertilizer early in the spring can be just what they need to grow past this little inconvenience.

Now to get rid of those little rascals, stay tuned for next weeks post.

13 Jan 2014

The New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

Happy-New-YearEven though the snow is still blowing and the temperatures are keeping us huddled around the fireplace, now is the time to start planning your gardens.  Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions I would recommend for the Gardener.

The Gardeners New Year’s Resolutions

1) Reduce Footprint

  • Limit chemicals in your garden and using eco-friendly supplies.
  • Instead of reaching for an herbicide, weed!
  • Don’t shower your plants with Miracle Grow,  plant in Jacob’s Premier Planting Mix to help establish and maintain healthy plants.
  • If your plants need a little boost, we love SuperThrive.
  • Compost

2) Save Water

  • 40 percent of average household water usage is in the garden.
  • Grow drought-tolerant plants such as these favorites:
  • Every time it rains,  save water in a rain barrel.


3) Attract Pollinators

  • Welcome birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators into your garden.
  • Avoid chemicals in the garden, and plant herbs and flowers to attract these important garden visitors.
  • Consider poppies, sunflowers, lavenders, herbs and other flowering plants, which are beloved by many pollinators.
  • Native plants are great at attracting helpful pollinators too.

Nasturtiums4) Grow Edibles … And Share the Harvest

Nothing tastes better than homegrown food, and you can’t beat the health benefits of freshly picked vegetables and fruits.

  • Growing your own edibles lets you know exactly where your food originated.
  •  Involving your children in kitchen gardens, help ensure they enjoy eating these foods later in the dining room. Kids who grow their own foods love snacking from the garden.
  • Have a large surplus? A wonderful way to share your harvest with those in need.

5) Save Work

  • Work smarter, not harder. Instead of running back and forth for tools, bring them with you. I like the Garden Bucket Caddy, because it attaches easily to a plastic tub for weeds. I use it to carry my gardening essentials, and sometimes a note pad, cell phone or sunscreen.
  • You can reduce those weeds from popping up later in the garden by mulching well early in the season.
  • Instead of watering everything by hand, set up drip lines and soaker hoses that save money, time and water.

6) Select Easy-Care Plants

  • Pick drought tolerant plants that require less work.
  • Ask local gardening center or master gardeners for easy-care plant recommendations for your area.
  • Avoid invasive plants that will cause future problems.
  • Native plants that flourish in your region and support your local ecosystem.

7) Resolve to sit in your garden once a week

  • Plan a date with your favorite person or your favorite libation and make it happen weekly. It’s the best way to enjoy the garden and the best way to keep an eye on things.
 8) Compost
  • The first step to having a healthy garden is building healthy soil.
  • Composting your yard and kitchen waste will save trash from landfills, while creating one of the best soil amendment products you can find.
  • Don’t throw away all that potential garden gold and make some magic that will keep your garden happy and healthy.

9) Out with the tired …

  • Tackle the trouble spot rather than putting up with it for another year.
  • Rip out that under-performing shrub. Replace that tired old crab apple.
  • Cruise the winter catalogs and magazines for some new ideas.

10) Pass Along Plants

  •  Gardening is all about sharing — plants, ideas, tried-and-true tricks and more.
  • Divide that treasured perennial and pass it along to a friend or neighbor.
  • Save seeds, they make a wonderful spring gift!

Happy gardening new year!

04 Feb 2013

Gardening Questions Or Compost Questions??? We Love Your Questions!

questions-anyoneWe want your gardening and composting questions!
Please submit them as a comment on this post, on our Facebook page, or email them.  I will be responding to most of them on The Mossy Tree blog or our Facebook page.

I will also be selecting 2 people (per month) to win a gardening related prize. (only within the US). There may also be some surprise prizes as well.