Archive for the ‘Home Maintenance’ Category
One tends to think of gophers as a problem for owners of suburban lawns and golf courses. At least I did.
That changed when we moved into a San Francisco home with a yard. And a gopher with the empire-building instincts of Donald Trump. At first it was somewhat novel to have our very own resident gopher, and he was a cute little thing. However, the novelty soon wore off. Volcano-esque dirt piles appeared daily. The walkway from the sidewalk to the front door narrowed, as his activity spread soil out as well as up. His cuteness factor diminished considerably.
Now, having chewed his way through our meager landscaping, the gopher (aka The Donald) has ventured into our neighbors’ yards, decorating the cul-de-sac with new little mounds of dirt.
Our neighbors are a friendly bunch, but I’ve noticed as the gopher works his way around the various yards, the waves have become a little less friendly, and the topic of any conversation is invariably about gophers and/or control.
So, even though our gopher-ravaged yard has made decorating for Halloween a no-brainer, I’ve decided it’s time for a game plan.
A few hours of Internet research and talking with various gopher experts, here are the basics to gopher control and prevention:
The two main – and supposedly effective – methods of gopher control are poison and traps.
Neither is completely ideal. Poison isn’t great, because, well, it’s poison. And if you have an aversion to actually killing the gopher, that’s a problem, too. In my research however, I did learn that gophers are far more than just annoying and lawn-destroying pests. Like many rodents, they need to continually gnaw to keep their front teeth from growing too long. They will gnaw cables, wires, entire root bases of trees, you name it. Additionally, they can carry diseases such as rabies, and are frequently host to fleas, lice and other insects. In short, you really don’t want them taking up residence on your property.
Two main types of traps exist: lethal and non-lethal. If the gopher is building its burrow, traps can be rather easy to use, as you can set them up near the mound the gopher is using to dump dirt. Once the burrow is established, however, it’s a bit tougher. You have to dig down, find the burrow’s main tunnel and set up the trap there.
If you use non-lethal traps, you have to be prepared to take the gopher somewhere it won’t do damage and release it.
I haven’t tried this company, but they offer on-site training sessions on how to use their cinch traps, and have a good collection of articles about gophers and other rodent pests: http://www.gopherslimited.com/
As for poisons, it’s typically a bait-type poison that you put in the burrow. The gopher packs it into his little cheek pouches and carries it back to his nest. A few meals of poison pellets and the gopher is history.
My own preference is to stay away from poison if possible. But if nothing else works, and you are desperate, I would highly recommend hiring a professional exterminator who specializes in rodents.
Once the gophers are gone, you can plant gopher-resistant plants and put gopher barriers beneath and/or around your garden and plants. But from everything I’ve read, getting rid of them once doesn’t mean they’ll stay away forever, so you’re going to have to keep an eye out for any evidence that they’re back, and take care of them quickly before they can do serious damage.
For more info on eliminating gophers and a list of resistant plants, there’s a good discussion about gophers on GardenWeb.com: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/calif/msg0521332219215.html
Here in San Francisco, winterizing your home is something you probably should have done back in May.
But if, like me, you like to keep up the fantasy that our winter actually begins in December, I’ve got a list of things you should probably consider doing this fall, after you’ve spent the afternoon sunning yourself on Ocean Beach.
Many of the items on this list you can do yourself. For those you can’t or don’t want to do on your own, email me and I’ll be happy to send you a list of recommended vendors.
- If you don’t have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed, install them! Both are not only required, but life-saving
- Replace batteries in both at the end of daylight savings time
- Have an HVAC pro come out and inspect your furnace
- Consider getting the ducts vacuumed
- If it has a filter, get it changed
- Insulate exposed ducting
- Insulate hot water heater
- Install programmable thermostat
- Have a fireplace service inspect it
- Clean out if necessary
- Consider installing a gas insert, if possible
- Inspect exterior for cracks, peeling paint, intrusive plants (don’t forget hard to see back walls, or areas that connect with another building)
- Inspect windows for cracks, peeling paint, worn weather stripping
- Inspect decks and patios for dry rot or damage
- Inspect roof for damaged tiles, uneven covering if tar/gravel, poorly installed or damaged flashing
- Clear gutters
- Install pigeon netting over exposed areas between buildings
- Check sills for dry rot/damage
- Consider installing additional bolts or other earthquake safety measures
- Inspect for active pest invasion, plant intrusion
- Have arborist inspect and trim trees
- Prune/trim other vegetation
- Now is a good time to check or create your emergency kit. This is the definite site for helping you get and stay prepared: http://72hours.org/
As we’ve all heard, your home is your most valuable investment. Doing minor upkeep periodically will not only help you catch small problems before they become large, but will also help to maintain and increase the value of your home throughout the years.