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Creating rock and log piles to deal with garden pests

 
gardener
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Creating habitat features is a simple way you can work with nature to reduce the impact of garden pests.

In my blog post – How to Create Habitat Features for Pest Control – I dive into a specific type of habitat features created from rock and log piles.

While there are a lot of different types of habitat features (plants could be called habitat features) I really like using rocks and logs since I have found these bring a lot of benefits to my wild homestead.

Benefits of Rock and Log Piles



Whenever I make a new garden or growing area I always add rock and log piles. The picture above is a new garden area that has a vegetable growing area and an area for wild flowers. Between these 2 areas is a large pile of rocks and logs with a snag in the middle.

These sort of piles are exactly where the local garter snakes like to hangout. But ground beetles, centipedes, and amphibians also like these sort of areas.

All of these are predators that will eat many of the garden pests common in my area. Pests such as slugs and pill bugs.

So by making sure I add rock and log piles around my garden areas and general growing areas I can make sure these predators hangout right where I need them.

Does This Work?



In my experience creating these sort of habitat features has made a big difference. I see far less slugs than I used to and it seems to get better each year.

Last year I had to take apart one of my rock piles because grass was coming up through it and I didn’t want grass there.

As I was taking it apart I found a garter snake tucked in tight in the rock pile. A few years ago my Dad was taking apart a large rock pile to move it and found dozens of salamanders hiding away in it.

These sort of habitat features not only provide shelter during the summer months but they’re also the places where amphibians and reptiles like to overwinter.

But it can take time for the predators to find these habitat features and move in. This is not an instant form of pest control but if you do this every time you create a new growing area overtime you will have more and more predators and less and less pests.

Make sure you check out the blog post for some tips on how to most effectively build one of these habitat features. While relatively simple I have learned some tricks to make them work the best for the predators I want to attract.

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.

Thank you!
 
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I can definitely attest to this being the best source of slug control on the PNW. It was only the debris piles.that we made that kept us from going broke on sluggo at our old place. Yours are much.more artfully done than ours were
 
Daron Williams
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s. lowe wrote:I can definitely attest to this being the best source of slug control on the PNW. It was only the debris piles.that we made that kept us from going broke on sluggo at our old place. Yours are much.more artfully done than ours were



Thanks for sharing! I have been having fun with mine but not all of them look as nice. Yeah, I think these sort of features are a very important part of a whole system based approach to pest control. These features won't do it all by themselves but when combined with other approaches that work with nature I think they can really help. One thing I really like about these features is that I can put them right next to an area that I need pest control (a vegetable garden)--it's a great way to attract predators right to where the pests are an issue.

Thanks again!
 
pollinator
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Just posted on the blog. Awesome work. I appreciated the numbered checklist.

We had a de facto rock and log pile between the garage and the fence at my parents' place. There was an abundance of critters living there that I hadn't even though to find in my garden.

And once we cleared away the old garage and the "garbage" that went with it, I had to set up all-new predator habitats and draws.

-CK
Staff note (Daron Williams) :

Thanks for the comment! Pie for you!

 
Daron Williams
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I thought I would share a picture I took today of a garter snake hanging out on one of my habitat features. I'm in the process of collecting a bunch of logs and stumps to make more habitat features for garter snakes, frogs, lizards and other beneficial critters. Adding these features to your wild homestead really do work. The one in the picture is not that big but still big enough!
snake-habitat-feature.jpg
Garter snake on a habitat feature
Garter snake on a habitat feature
 
pollinator
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Thanks for sharing. I learn a lot from all the posts here. I digged a tiny frog pond just 2×4 by 1.5 ft deep because I got small kids around. I also pile up some branches nearby. It was really small setup and I didn't have much expectation. But last week there were all ready 3 frogs taking residency and I saw a snake sliding away. Amazing!
 
Daron Williams
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May Lotito wrote:Thanks for sharing. I learn a lot from all the posts here. I digged a tiny frog pond just 2×4 by 1.5 ft deep because I got small kids around. I also pile up some branches nearby. It was really small setup and I didn't have much expectation. But last week there were all ready 3 frogs taking residency and I saw a snake sliding away. Amazing!



That's great! It really is amazing how fast nature responds when you create habitat for wildlife. Thanks for sharing!
 
pollinator
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Your creature habitats are very photogenic!

I have been really pleased with the density of garter snakes in my garden. I'll have been here 2 years in august, and the oldest rock piles have been in place maybe 18 months... and this year I suddenly have snakes everywhere!

Very glad to live somewhere with no venomous snakes.

I am hopeful that I will start to see a reduction in wireworm population as a result of all these snakes.. time will tell.

Interestingly, I disturb snakes in the weed-piles more often than the rock-piles..


I am also noticing that a lot more birds seem to be sticking around, they were quite transitory in year one. I can only guess that the new ponds are a big draw, as I have not done any specific bird habitat creation, and in fact mowing the broom is probably a negative for some species..


Nature responds fast!

Speaking of... would anyone like some 7ft thistles..?
 
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This is such a good idea. I'm definitely doing it.

The stone walls of my house aren't sealed yet, and I was hesitating to do it because the walls are full of snakes, scorpions and geckos and I don't want them to have to leave the area.
I'll make sure I have a pile like this nearby before I finish the pointing and rendering.
Thanks.
 
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This is a great idea! I'm going to have to give this a try. I have a decent sized pile of grass mulch in the garden that I never got around to spreading this year and it's home to a few toads already. This looks like a much bigger (and better) version of that!
 
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