Voles, not to be confused with the garden pest moles, are members of the rodent family – sometimes called the “field mouse.” Most voles prefer to eat partake in the vegetarian lifestyle, so when they come upon your vegetable garden, they are likely to see it as the worlds biggest & best all-you-can-eat salad bar! Voles can and will lay waste to your garden and then move on to the roots of your flowering plants as dessert. Voles can also be a danger to young trees and shrubs in your landscape, burrowing into their root systems and nibbling on their bases and trunks. Unlike many other mammals, voles are not limited to nocturnal munching. They are active day and night and a wise gardener (that’s you!) will take easy but important steps to deter them!
First, make sure that your problem is indeed voles, and not moles which require a different plan of attack. The runways created by voles are close to the surface, as opposed to moles who burrow deeper underground. The voles feeding tunnels will appear on your lawn as raised ridges.
Preventative measures including keeping your garden weeded, thus reducing the amount of vegetation to attract them. Fencing around the area can frustrate them too, and the popular raised vegetable garden beds are a good deterrent.
For trees and shrubs, avoid piling up deep mulch right at the base of newly planted ones. Voles like digging in mulch and they may be doing damage to the base without you knowing it. Mulch should be kept just slightly away from the trunk or base or you can consider wrapping the trunk for protection with, for instance, a wire mesh.
The top-selling Daddy Pete line of products offers a soil blend that is specially designed to keep voles from eating your plant’s roots. It’s called Daddy Pete’s Planting Mix Plus PermaTill ®– a unique product that discourages voles from feeding on the roots and bulbs of many landscape plants. In addition to PermaTill, ingredients include composted cow manure and premium aged pine bark fines, making it great for aeration and drainage so you can keep your plant roots healthy & deter voles!