San Antonio Chapter

Gardening Tips, Hints and Hacks January 2024

If you’ve been gardening for any amount of time, you have probably discovered practical gardening practices that work for you here in Central Texas.  We’d love for you to share them with us!  In coming newsletters, we’ll select and share one or two submissions.  Please help us make this new monthly feature a success by sending your submissions to  Be sure to include your name, fully describe the gardening tip, and possibly include an illustrative photo.

More Ways to Discourage Digging Critters

You probably have busy squirrels digging little holes everywhere right now, and perhaps the occasional racoon, possum, skunk and/or armadillo to boot. Any can wreak havoc, showing no respect for new sprouts and recent installations of 4” pots, especially if in well-watered soil in an otherwise dry landscape.

The following suggestions work by encouraging the critter to move past the vulnerable plant(s). However, a resolutely determined critter may not be deterred. (For ironclad protection, consider caging.)

In the August newsletter, Teresa shared her tip for protecting new seedlings by using plant carriers. This month, I’m sharing two additional hacks:

1) Plastic Containers

  • Protect an individual sprout (2-4”) with a deep, plastic dairy container, 24 to 36 oz. (cottage cheese or yogurt). Simply slice off the bottom with a sharp utility knife, place the cut end down around the sprout, center the sprout, and gently press the bottom into the soil a bit.
  • Secure with small branch cuttings that extend at or above the top placed near the inside and outside edges (cuttings will prevent animal from knocking container over).
  • Once the sprout is established and fills the container, remove container, but leave the cuttings to discourage digging by critters until plant has doubled or tripled in size.

2) Sticks

  • In the past I have used plastic forks, prongs up, to protect seedlings and small plants (up to 4” pot sized). However, the forks are not terribly deep, they shatter when inadvertently stepped on, and they are certainly not eco-friendly.
  • So what is cheap, plentiful and biodegradable? Cuttings from sticks and branches! This fall, as I pruned, I stockpiled reasonably straight and strong stems and branches of bushes and trees.
  • For small sprouts and seedlings, I cut lengths of 14 to 18 inches of slender branches, which are perfect for sinking 6 or more inches into the ground. Surround individual sprouts/small plants with 4 or more cuttings. (Forming a tepee is optional).
  • If protecting a larger area of multiple seedlings, I place the cuttings generously throughout the area. For larger plants of one gallon or more, use larger and longer cuttings, surrounding the plant at 5 to 6 inch intervals.


If you have other hacks to discourage critters from bothering your seedlings, sprouts or recent installs of 4” potted plants, we’d love to share them in an upcoming newsletter!

(Submitted by Pam Peck)