Gophers find many fleshy roots tasty, and expensive bulbs and roseroots are too often their gourment delicacies. If gophers have invadedyour garden in the past but your arsenal or weapons (traps, poison) hasfailed to control them, the best solution may be to prevent them fromreaching your plants in the first place. Now, during bulb-planting season and before planting time forbare-root roses, you can take steps to protect your valued plants bylining planting holes or raised beds with wire mesh.
Before setting out a small number of bulbs, sink wire baskets intoplanting holes. An old wire-frame basket, like the one pictured atright, will work fine; bury it so the top two rings of wire extend abovethe 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 longfor 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 forbulbs, 36 inches high for roses.
To make the bottom, cut a square of chicken wire to fit thediameter of the cylinder, and attach it to the bottom by folding thecorners up the sides, then hooking them into the wire mesh. Another way to form a bottom for a basket is by making 5 cuts 7inches long on one end of the cylinder, spaced evenly around thecircumference. Bend flaps to the center and wire them together. Slip the baskets into planting holes.
Allow the upper rim toextend 4 to 6 inches above the final soil level to discourage gophersfrom climbing over the top. Fill the hole with soil to the desiredplanting depth of the bulbs or roses. Camouflage the wire above theground by planting annuals around the perimeter.
Armoring raised beds Before adding soil, place chicken wire or 1/2-inch-mesh hardwarecloth at the bottom of the raised bed, extending the edges 2 to 3 inchesup 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 squarefoot). 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).