Q&A: foxes are digging up my garden

Horticultural advice from the experts at the RHS
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Question: Yesterday I planted about a dozen lovely new plants in my garden. When I went out to look at them this morning half of them had been dug up completely and the other half had been dug out on one side down to the roots.

We do have a fox run at the bottom of the garden, could they be the culprits? We also have a lot of cats in the garden. I didn't use bonemeal to plant them but one of those powdered fungi root boosters. How can I prevent this from happening again?

Answer: If we feel that insect pests are difficult to control, four legged ones are even more so, especially since eradication is out of the question. The foxes are the most likely culprits – they are often keen to investigate new additions to the garden.

Mycorrhizal fungi products usually contain fertiliser to give extra encouragement to establishing plants, so it may be this that the foxes are attracted to or the freshly dug soil which makes it easier for foxes to search for worms. The news is not good in terms of how to minimise the damage they cause as there are no effective ways of keeping them out or moving them away from the garden if they are already there. Repellants for sale in garden centres need frequent reapplication and the effect of sonic devices is often short lived. Replant the plants firmly into the soil and try placing cut twigs of something spiky such as holly or pyracantha around them.

Send your questions for the RHS to: gardenproblems@standard.co.uk.

Only a few questions per month can be answered. For further advice on handling problems in your garden, visit www.rhs.org.uk/advice/index.asp.

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