Hello from a 'newbie' and a couple of questions

Alton, IL

Hello! I'm both new to the forum and to gardening. I never intended to put in a garden. In fact, I'm known for killing houseplants (not intentionally). But one Saturday late last June, I looked out my window and saw my brother digging a hole in my front yard. Seems he decided that I needed a plant and was putting in a yucca. So we talked and I mentioned that I had been thinking about a few bushes outside my living room window. "Isn't it too late in the season?" I asked. "Nope, head down to Home Depot and buy a couple that you like. And I'll come back to plant them."

I soon discovered that I didn't really like bushes as such, BUT I found some perennials that caught my eye. The more I shopped, the more I developed this mental image of what I wanted in my yard. Next thing I knew, I had not one but two "gardens" with a variety of plants. And much to my surprise, I managed to keep well over half alive through the summer and fall. I'm excited to see how many survived the winter and will come back. :) Then I can work on expanding what I have, adding some new plants and a stone border to give the gardens a more defined look. With that in mind, I have two questions.......

Last fall, I did some research and found that for most of my plants, I need to cut them back in the spring. I suspect that we're in for an early spring. (I live just outside of St. Louis, but on the Illinois side of the river. Alton, for anyone who knows the area.) So when should I cut back the plants to get them ready for spring? I'm almost wondering if now is a good time.

Also, I have something burrowing in my yard. My backyard bumps against a wild, overgrown area and I've seen a lot of wild life. A coyote, couple of groundhogs (they have a burrow at the far end of my yard), even a deer. I enjoy the wildlife, but something (could be the groundhogs; could be something else) is tunneling through my yard; both front and back. The problem is that whatever it is often uproots my plants from underground. (Well, that and the fact that my kid seriously objects to stepping into holes when he's trying to mow.)

Is there anything that I can do to discourage this? I don't necessarily want to kill whatever it is, but I'd like it to stay out of my yard.

Anyway....... long post. Sorry. Hello!

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Sounds like you have a mole. I have a suggestion for getting rid of it but since you live in a city it won't work. lol. I've heard sonic sensors, which can be found at places like Home Depot work. Or you can get some poison peanuts and put them in the holes.

I've been thru Alton many times. We have family in Jerseyville area so used to pass through there before my youngest brother found a faster route taking back roads. lol

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

I'm very familiar with the Alton area. I enjoy visiting the rose garden at Gordon Moore Park. Maybe we can meet there sometime when the weather warms and the roses are in bloom. : )


(Debra) Derby, KS(Zone 6a)

HI and welcome to the forum;) Do you have a dog? If it is a mole or gopher, you could try castor beans . kills moles and gophers, don't know which you have. I am glad you like designing your garden areas. you could try lining your main root ball area with a mesh type wire with barbs.... imagine a barbed wire wreath around your planting area. about two foot deep maybe three would be good. sounds mean. My son went crazy with those things so he tried everything, since he didn't have a dog.

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

Hi Dyanisme,
I'm with Pepper, you have a mole. But they are strictly meat eaters (worms and grubs) so you either set a trap, or smash down the tunnels and wait quietly with a potato or pitchfork till you see them moving thru them again. Then stab them. Gruesome, but it works. If they continue to tunnel, you will have dead grass and a bumpy yard.
You might want to get rid of the ground hogs too.

Love your brother! He planted a ''seed'' along with a plant, LOL! I'm glad you like gardening!

I live in Iowa close to the Mississippi River and I have learned to cut all my plants back in the fall. I do it carefully and carry them across the road to stand up in the weeds. That way the birds can eat all winter and if I'm lucky some will get started over there.

Have you lived there long?

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

The fork method is one we use here a lot. My dad also takes the gun and will shoot them but we are only able to do that because we live in the country. lol

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

I've been on Facebook too long. I wanted to ''like'' your comment, LOL!

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Sorry that I'm a little off topic, but I never noticed this link before where we can view the rose garden at GM Park year round. Of course, Sunday afternoon is great when the bells are chiming.


KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

I actually had to recommend that method to a guy today. He has moles and has dogs. Can't do poison when you have pets so told him about the fork and the gun. He rather poison. lol

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

I sure would love to have roses year round. They turned the old zoo in the next town into a rose garden and native plants, but we don't get there very often.

He will have a hard time finding a poison a mole will eat.

Alton, IL

Hi all! Thanks for the replies!

Greenbrain, I'd enjoy getting together. And you have a picture of a cat! I like you already. LOL

Moles....... I don't know why I never thought of that, but I think you're right. I probably have moles or gophers. Billyporter described my yard pretty well (dead grass and bumpy). In fact, add the word 'spongy' and it is exactly spot on. Dead grass, spongy and bumpy. I was blaming the type of soil that I have, but now I wonder if it's been moles all along.

I don't have dogs and my kitties are strictly indoor critters, but there are a fair number of neighborhood pets that are allowed to wander and I don't want to hurt them. And while I will openly admit that I'll probably have to turn to traps and other lethal methods, I'm pretty much a 'live and let live' kind of gal. So I think I'll try non-lethal deterrents first. Maybe a combination of sonic spikes and something like castor oil granules will do the trick.

And since the main topic of this site is plants, can I just say how much I love (LOVE) Russian Sage. Until last year, I'd never heard of it. And now it seems to be everywhere I look in St Louis and even Edwardsville. I have three plants in my garden, and I'm hoping they will be among my winter survivors. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is something about them that speaks to me.

Oh, Billyporter, I moved to Alton about two years ago. Actually, I grew up in the area (graduated from Granite City High). But I've been in Minnesota for the last 25, almost 30 years. Then I came back April 2013. It's a weird combination of that 'second nature' feeling you get when you are where you grew up, but also a completely new experience because so much has changed in 25 years.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

dyanisme, I also grew up in Granite City and graduated from the HS in 1973. I've lived in Madison now since 1989.

I like dogs better, but I do also have some cats to please the cat lovers in my family and because I don't like mice.

We will have to get together when the weather warms. My mom lives outside Bethalto; off Fosterburg Rd., so I'm up that way at least once a month visiting. There's so much to love about the Alton area that I wouldn't know where to begin.

Did you see Pepper's RU thread? Let us know if you might be interested or have any questions. I plan to attend.


This message was edited Jan 25, 2015 3:37 PM

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

Moles will really ruin your yard and will tunnel ALL over. My neighbor on the next block over, and the Church across the road from me both have a terrible problem.
Every year I get more tolerant to letting things live. Since I'm not the one with the potato fork, I can be glad DH kills them. He works hard to keep us in grass :o)
Google the sonic before buying. I don't think they work very well.
Laughing, I adore Russian Sage and I have a terrible time keeping them alive. I think I need to start with fresh plants.
Cool! I'll bet the weather is much nicer here than there!

Awesome! What a small world we live in sometimes!

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

I had a guy looking at the sonic ones the other day at work and I looked at the reviews. Only 2 stars. The moles will also get under your patio or if you are on a slab they will get under there too and mess up the house. They got under my grandma's front porch slab years ago and did some damage to the basement. Had to get rid of the concrete and jack the basement back out. I will say they weren't the sole cause of the damage but they certainly contributed.

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)


suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

Welcome dyanisme!
Boy, if nothing else the mole holes sure are unsightly. That's alot of potting dirt, but yeah not worth the mole problem. Oh, you like cats, dyanisme? We have 6 in the house, and they're all from being strays (half of them have been here over 10 years). We feed and sometimes let in 2 more strays (all the time when the weather is bad). We'd have them in all the time but they want back out after a nite or half-day. Plus this one I really like and call Bernie (again, no pun or anything on CountryGardens, that's just a coincidence that that's his name..lol). Anyway, that one feels the need to spray on stuff in the house (the other day he peed right on my computer screen while I was using it). I like that cat, he thinks he owns me and the house! About a month ago, I went to visit the neighbors and Bernie followed me and proceeded to stare at me thru the storm door for about an hour while we played chess! I love those neighbors but they aren't cat people. I don't think they're amused by all the feline visitors to their porch. Gonna be in the 70's today, yippee!

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