A mother raccoon and four of her youngsters take a peek out of their storm drain home in Tracy.
A mother raccoon and four of her youngsters take a peek out of their storm drain home in Tracy. (File photo)

DEAR JOAN: We are looking for ways to protect our new sod from raccoons. Do you have specifics about what type of netting, wire or other deterrent to try?

Ingrid W.

Mill Valley

DEAR INGRID: The first question I would ask is if you've had trouble with raccoons in the past, or if you are just anticipating trouble because you've heard that others do? Trying to protect your lawn is not easy, so if you don't have reason to suspect an imminent invasion, I wouldn't worry about it. We have raccoons in our neighborhood -- I even had a family of six living under my deck for a while -- but they didn't really bother my lawn.

Raccoons that dig up the lawn are looking for grubs, so it makes sense that if you control the grubs, you stop the raccoons. The animals may poke around your yard, but if they don't find good eating, they'll move on.

If you want to try a physical barrier, you can use garden mesh, chicken wire or bird netting. You'll have to spread it out over your lawn every evening, tacking it down or otherwise securing it, and remove it during the day.

There are a variety of repellents on the market. I had good luck with Critter Ridder for getting the raccoons out from under the deck, but it might have been the annoying yapping of my Chihuahua that actually drove them away.

DEAR JOAN: I have lived in my house for 44 years and not until about two years ago did the squirrels start raiding a large orange tree.

They eat some of them on the spot, but so many oranges have been removed from the tree, they may be taking them away.

They do make a mess with the tiny pieces of peel, but I am waiting until they are done to clean up this year.

Is this normal behavior for squirrels?

Barbara

Oakland

DEAR BARBARA: Yes, that's normal behavior for squirrels, but that may not be all that is eating the oranges. If you find oranges with the insides eaten out, that probably means roof rats. A lot of creatures like the sweetness of the oranges, and some of them even like the bitterness of the peels.

It's always a good gardening practice to clean up under your fruit trees. Leaving bits of peels or fallen fruit only attracts more to the free orange party.

K-9 drive

This event kind of brings a tear to my eye. The Golden State German Shepherd Rescue, which operates throughout the Bay Area, and K-9 units from 14 area police departments are working to collect items for the Military K-9 units serving in Afghanistan.

What began as a toy drive gained so much community support that the groups are now also collecting dog beds, crate mats, collapsible water bowls, unscented ear and eye wipes, and medical supplies for the dogs' paws (the terrain is so rugged that their paws are often injured). Donations of antibiotic ointments, vet wrap and dog booties in larger sizes also are needed. A large transport is being scheduled out of Travis Air Force Base to deliver the supplies to the more than 60 service dogs on the base at Bagram, Afghanistan.

A collection drive is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 6 and the Blackhawk Pet Food Express, 11000 Crow Canyon Road, in Danville. You can donate items or make a cash gift to help buy needed supplies.

The event is combined with the group's regular adoption day, so you may find a new friend as well as help a service dog.

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.