Foraging critters a bigger problem for gardeners than drought, heat

Nancy Marino, who works at the Greenhouse Garden Center, inspects the bloom on a yucca plant, which is very drough tolerant.

Nancy Marino, who works at the Greenhouse Garden Center, inspects the bloom on a yucca plant, which is very drough tolerant.

Recent rain gave only a brief respite from bone-dry Carson City conditions, so drought-tolerant and rabbit-resistant plants remain on local gardeners' minds.

Some say resistance to animals foraging among plants seems the greater concern this summer. For example, Gene Munnings of Evergreen Gene's on North Carson Street noted just a few customers seek drought-tolerant plants, while more want to keep animals at bay.

"We don't get a lot of people that ask" for plants requiring little water, he said. "Most people are looking for things that are rabbit-resistant." Rabbits and deer, he said, are foraging heavily due to drought.

David Ruf of Greenhouse Garden Center on South Curry Street said people seeking drought-resistant plants weren't buying in droves despite the arid conditions that prevailed until the sprinkle of rain over the weekend and Monday.

"Not so much," he said.

JoAnne Skelly, extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, was pleased with the recent rain but said it was insufficient.

"It's just a little added help," she said. "It's better than nothing." As for continued rains throughout the rest of the summer, she noted: "That's probably highly unlikely."

Skelly said people planting in this region generally should keep the normal dryness of summers in mind.

"We need fire-resistant, rabbit-resistant, deer-resistant and water-efficient landscapes," she said.

Skelly said that because of drought, animals can't find food at higher elevations but can find it in the community. This isn't the best time of year for planting anyway, she said, recommending autumn instead.

When folks heed her call to couple fire and animal resistance with water efficiency in landscapes, there are options.

For example, Greenhouse Garden Center's Ruf suggested yucca plants, juniper and agastache (hyssop). Yucca, he said, is popular. He said juniper works well when someone needs to cover a wide area.

He also said choices depend on whether you're dealing with a large area like a half acre, or just a city lot of about one-eighth acre and a drip system for controlled watering.

Munnings, meanwhile, suggested Russian sage, catnip or coreopsis.

"You want things that are more toward the native side," the Evergreen Gene's owner recommended.

In addition, he said, there are products that can be sprayed on plants to keep rabbits away. Though humans smell the product briefly at application, animals can smell it for a month.

When it comes to watering, according to Skelly, people need to remember deep watering is better than shallow because trees' root systems stay thirsty without such help.

Thomas Guinn, utilities manger with Carson City Public Works, agreed with Skelly recent rain didn't change much but said the city is in pretty good shape on water supply this year. Despite that, restrictions from June 1-Sept. 30 still apply regarding residential watering.

Restrictions ban any watering on Mondays so the city's water storage facilities have a chance to recharge. On other days, watering corresponds to addresses.

Folks with odd-numbered street addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays; those with even-numbers on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

Through Sept. 30, people not only should follow those address-related guidelines, but avoid watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Ideal watering time, according to the city Public Works Department, is between 4 and 10 a.m.

Hand watering is allowed when flowers, shrubs or vegetables need a bit extra, and exemptions are allowed for new lawns or under certain other special conditions.

City personnel suggest avoiding any watering when temperatures are too hot or conditions are too windy.


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