Gophers find many fleshy roots tasty, and expensive bulbs and rose
roots are too often their gourment delicacies. If gophers have invaded
your garden in the past but your arsenal or weapons (traps, poison) has
failed to control them, the best solution may be to prevent them from
reaching your plants in the first place.
Now, during bulb-planting season and before planting time for
bare-root roses, you can take steps to protect your valued plants by
lining planting holes or raised beds with wire mesh.
Before setting out a small number of bulbs, sink wire baskets into
planting holes. An old wire-frame basket, like the one pictured at
right, will work fine; bury it so the top two rings of wire extend above
the soil line.
You can also construct your own planting baskets from chicken wire.
Larger versions can be used to protect roses, too. Wire basket making
Use 1-inch (or finer) mesh, 36-inch-wide galvanized chicken wire.
To form the basket, cut a section of chicken wire about 12 inches long
for six to eight medium-size bulbs, 40 inches long for bare-root roses.
Twist or wire ends together to form a cylinder: 12 inches high for
bulbs, 36 inches high for roses.
To make the bottom, cut a square of chicken wire to fit the
diameter of the cylinder, and attach it to the bottom by folding the
corners up the sides, then hooking them into the wire mesh.
Another way to form a bottom for a basket is by making 5 cuts 7
inches long on one end of the cylinder, spaced evenly around the
circumference. Bend flaps to the center and wire them together.
Slip the baskets into planting holes. Allow the upper rim to
extend 4 to 6 inches above the final soil level to discourage gophers
from climbing over the top. Fill the hole with soil to the desired
planting depth of the bulbs or roses. Camouflage the wire above the
ground by planting annuals around the perimeter. Armoring raised beds
Before adding soil, place chicken wire or 1/2-inch-mesh hardware
cloth at the bottom of the raised bed, extending the edges 2 to 3 inches
up the inside.
Hardware cloth is sturdier than chicken wire but is sold in small
(3- by 5-foot) pieces and is more expensive (about 75 cents per square
foot). For a large planting area, chicken wire is more economical
(about 40 cents per liner foot for 36-inch-wide mesh in 50-foot rolls).