DEAR JOAN: Here in Seascape, the deer have been lunching on all our roses. One by one, neighbors have given up on roses in the front yard, but I just can't do it. These are my grandmother's 80-year-old Cecile Brunner roses, and they are meant to be a border and admired in the front yard.
The water scarecrows leaked, used too much water and scared pedestrians; the coyote urine made the roses smell foul, and the netting doesn't keep them out.
I am seriously considering a very expensive fence that will be designed to be inviting to people but deter deer. I don't want my yard to look like a prison, but I want those roses!
DEAR ROSEMARY: There are many things you can try, but the best one is the fence. It needs to be at least 8 feet tall with a portion that extends partly underground to keep them from digging under.
In the meantime, you can try hanging empty pie tins or used CDs from stakes planted around the roses. The reflective nature of the shiny metal may frighten the deer. You can find a number of sprays on the market that don't smell as bad as the coyote urine. Some people swear by them, and others say you're wasting your money. However, the Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek has a huge, beautiful rose garden and they use Liquid Fence to great success.
Another idea is to plant things deer love -- more than your roses, that is -- in an area far from your pink sweetheart blooms. The deer may be content to munch on those, rather than on your roses.
DEAR JOAN: I have had a problem for the past several months with raccoons upending sections of a new sod lawn installed last October in our backyard. I understand that they likely search for grubs under the sod.
We have tried many forms of deterrents, including a 30-inch high metal fence (which they climbed over), a bright backyard light, commercial animal repellents, very hot jalapeno peppers baited with peanut butter. None of these methods worked.
I currently have the entire lawn section covered with light plastic mesh, which does work; however, it is a chore to remove for mowing and not a practical long-term solution.
Will the raccoons eventually find the lawn no longer attractive with the warmer weather and dryer conditions? Would the application of commercial lawn grub killer be helpful?
I have heard that this is a common problem in many neighborhoods. I live on a typical suburban street. Apparently, the raccoons are able to live in the storm drains and forage at night.
DEAR LARRY: Your problem will actually worsen as the weather warms. The grubs go deep underground in the winter, but when it warms, they make their way closer to the surface, emerging as beetles and then producing more grubs.
Getting rid of the grubs is a great idea, but don't use pesticides that kill everything indiscriminately. Instead, buy beneficial nematodes, tiny living creatures that feed on the grubs. You can find them at garden centers or online.
Seasonal applications should keep you raccoon-free.
The raccoons live near water and just use the drains as a freeway to grubby lawns.