Chipmunk Baths

When I decided to sod my yard with Zeon Zoysia, to save money I planned to do it in two stages: Front yard, followed by the back yard next summer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was probably not such a great idea. I was concerned the grass in the front yard would get damaged next summer when the backyard sodding process got underway. I’m so glad now I went ahead and did both at the same time.

When you walk down the driveway and enter the gate into the backyard, this is the view across the yard. One day I’ll do something with that area under the deck. I would love to add brick pavers or something under there. That’s another job for another day, though…can’t think about that now. Too much else to get done first.

Backyard with Zeon Sod

The backyard is fenced in but you can’t see the fence since it’s down beyond the wooded area.

Backyard with Zeon Sod (2)

This is the view looking back up toward the gate on the driveway side. I’d love to have rock steps installed coming down the hill. Not sure I’ll ever do that, though…probably be a bit pricey.

Backyard Sodded with Zeon Zoysia_wm

At the far end of the other side of the back yard, I left an area unsodded for future trees this fall. The Leyland Cypress that were there had to be removed since they weren’t healthy any more. I’m trying to decide if I should put back Cryptomeria. Leyland Cypress or Giant Arborvitae. I want something super fast growing since I lost my privacy on that end of the screened porch when I removed those trees.

I’m leaning toward more Leyland Cypress just because they grow SOOOO fast. I’ll probably only plant two trees to give them plenty of space. If they last another 20 years like the previous Leyland Cypress, that would be just fine.  I love the look of Cryptomeria but I’ve been told they grow slower than Leyland Cypress. Not sure how fast Giant Arborvitae grow. Time to do some research.  For this section, I’m more  interested in speed of growth than appearance.  Once the trees are in, the fence will be put back up. I need to buy a few more bags of mulch for this area in the meantime. Ugh, more mulch…I’m the mulch Queen!

Future Trees_wm

I changed the food in the bird feeders that hang here from the deck under the pergola.  I used to fill them with a wonderful blend of seed that included sunflower. The birds loved it! I didn’t mind the sunflower hulls falling on the ground when the yard was a mess.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook

Now that it’s sodded, the sunflower hulls would not be good for the grass. So, I’ve switched to “No Mess” bird seed that’s already shelled. It has loads of sunflower seeds, too. You would think the birds would LOVE it, right? Less work for them!

For the first few days, they continued eating at a feeder that’s not located over grass and was still filled with the last of the regular seed. They avoided the new birdseed like it was poison. When the other seed ran out, only then did they try the new stuff. They seem to really like it now which is a good thing since I bought so much of it! πŸ™‚

No Mess Birdseed_wm

I have a pink geranium in a decorative pot on the table.

Seating Group on Deck under Pergola_wm

Every single day I have been finding it like this, the geranium shoved over to the side and dirt all over the table. The first few times I found it this way, I figured a squirrel had hidden a nut or acorn in the plant last fall and was coming back looking for it.   Each time I found it this way, I cleaned it up, put the soil back in the pot and straightened the plant back up. But day after day after day, I continued finding it this way again…dirt everywhere. Ummm, who was doing this?

One day I was in the kitchen and looked out just at the right moment. I caught the culprit in action. Wish I could have gotten a picture for you. It was a little chipmunk and he was basically taking himself a dirt bath. Each day he climbs inside the pot and wallows around on this back for several minutes, throwing dirt everywhere. The day I caught him, his little dirt bath went on for quite a while! He was so cute! After cleaning up this mess every day for about two weeks, sometimes twice a day, a thought came to me.

Chipmunk Creates Mess Playing in Potted Plant_wm

I covered the dirt with some of the mulch I had bought for the islands in the yard.

Mulch Keeps Chipmunks Out of Potted Plants_wm

Mr. Chipmunk must be taking his dirt baths elsewhere because the plant is finally filling out now that it’s not being unearthed every day. I kind of miss Mr. Chipmunk, although I know he’s still around .

Pink Geranium_wm

I find evidence of him and his buddies everywhere. They love to sit and sunbathe on my front porch during the day. They aren’t too keen on having the entrance to their underground homes cluttered with annoying mulch. Do you see the entrance there under the liriope?   Note to self: Avoid getting mulch in a chipmunk’s doorway or you’ll be cleaning it back out of the grass! πŸ˜‰

Chipmunk Bunker_wm


I’m off now to buy some flowers. I’m not going to buy too many since October is pansy planting time, but I am itching to see a little color in the annual beds.

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  1. The chipmunks are pesky little varmints! We have one I call Edgar who regularly ate all my cilantro, regarding it as his own personal salad bar. I think he and his tribe have also eaten all the roots and bulbs off the dahlias and lilies in the back, too!

  2. LOL. I thought for sure you were going to say that you put a pot of just dirt out for the chipmunk so he would leave your geranium alone! I love hearing all about the adventures at your house! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Susan I can just see how beautiful your grass will be next spring! I need to re-sod my back yard, the Oaks just shade it too much. We have replaced half the back yard twice in the past 14 years. But nothing beats a beautiful lawn to set of your home!

  4. Linda Page says

    Oh, Susan, I love your back yard and all of the trees! Just gorgeous. You better quit showing so much of your house and yard or I am gonna start packing up my stuff to move in with YOU!!!!! I need to do some research on the Leyland Cypress as I would love to plant something to block the view of my neighbor’s back yard as it is a mess. I am not sure the Leyland would work as well in this Texas heat. I think stone steps leading down from your gate would look wonderful… don’t put that off for too long. If you do put pavers or something underdneath your deck, that would give you additional usuable space for outdoor seating. I think the pavers are a good idea. We don’t have chipmunks but loved your story and so glad that you found a way to preserve the dirt for your geranium. Good thing you are the Mulch Queen!!!

    • I wonder if Leylands will work there. It’s gets pretty hot in GA some summers. This summer has been nice and mild compared to most. Yep, that’s just what I envisioned for that area under the porch…some additional seating. I doubt I would use it since I have the porch but the next person who lives here one day might like that. lol Queen of the Mulch…that’s me! πŸ™‚

  5. Everything looks great! My yard is long overdue and hubby wants zoysia. I’m ready to roll with it. Although we’ll be paying to have it done, I’m still dreading the process. Your hard work (and good eye) really paid off.

  6. How cute is that?? We had the same thing happen last year and i totally know what you mean about missing that little guy!

    Everything looks beautiful Susan! The under deck area reminds me a little of what we are gojng to have but we are using it for storage.

  7. The grass looks so wonderful, what a difference..I bet you are thrilled with the transformation…It is just so beautiful in the back where the deck is…such a lovely space…I agree you will need to get those trees up as soon as possible between you and the neighbors garages…You should be very proud of the sod decision and the tree removal…yay

  8. Charlotte in Va. says

    Your grass is beautiful. It must be nice to have an irrigation system in the ground..
    I love your story about you chipmunk. They are so cute.. I don’t have any in my yard but have lots of squirrels.. I know about how they like to get into potted plants to bury peanuts or seeds.
    I would love to have about three truck loads of mulch brought to my yard.. It makes the yard look so “finished” and manicured..
    I understand about having plans and wishes of what could be done in our yards. It all takes $$$$, time and energy. But, looks so nice when finished..
    Enjoy the remainder of this summer..

    • Thanks Charlotte! I had the irrigation installed 20 years ago and have hardly used it. It’s getting a good workout now, though! Once the sod is established, I don’t think I’ll be using it very much. Someone told me that they have trucks that can come to your home and blow in the mulch into the islands with a big hose. I had never heard of that but it sounds pretty cool!

  9. Peggy Thal says

    Susan, everything just looks so great in the front and back of your home. Bet you have fallen in love with your home all over again. That’s how I feel after a big project. Lately just having my floors perfect makes me happy. All this rain and a little mop of a Cocker Spaniel is making it a challenge. Enjoy your beautiful home.

    • Thanks, Peggy…it really does feel like a different house with all the light coming in and the completely different look outside. It is funny how a big change does that. It reminds me of how you feel after you have your car washed or detailed…kind of like you have a new car again. πŸ™‚

  10. I love the birds and chipmunks too. I use the no mess seed and mine love it; although, the raccoon took my feeder (like yours) while I was at Haven. I only have found the Cardinal ring so far! I guess, he loved the no mess food too! Your yard is lovely!

    • Oh my gosh! I hope you find it, Betsy. I think I have one coming to one of my feeders because one was mysteriously going from almost full to almost empty overnight. So the last two nights, I’ve been bringing it in. I’ve had raccoons in the past so I’m pretty sure that’s what is doing it. At least he hasn’t taken it, though!

  11. Chipmunks, huh? Tell Chip and Dale I said ‘hey, howsyermommern’em’ for me. I only have squirrels, otherwise known as flying rats. Or parasailing rats. Or something. Some bad names, I’ve heard.

    • Ha! Parasailing rats! Too funny! The guys at the store where I buy my birdseed told me we have flying squirrels here. I never knew that. Apparently, they are nocturnal so guess that’s why I’ve never noticed them.

  12. Susan, everything looks terrific. I love that tree being gone in the front yard – you can now see how beautiful your home is.
    The grass will be great when it takes hold and you are going to love it. So glad that you did the front and back yard at the side time.
    Have a great week.

  13. Love the new sod and mulch, Susan – well worth all the time & money. The chipmunk story was adorable – didn’t know they took “dirt” baths – I had visions of him coming home & his “wife” saying: I see you worked really hard today honey – LOL! The birdseed story was funny too – we have fought with squirrels forever over our birdseed – they emptied it every day until we finally added cayenne pepper to the seed. It doesn’t bother the birds but the squirrels hate it! Now we get to watch them morning, noon & night, right on time, every day. I also learned what “pecking order” means – the cardinals are first, then the smaller birds and eat (unless there are bully blue jays around – they shove everyone off the birdfeeder & help themselves!). Our cardinals now have US trained – when the feeder is empty, the Dad or Mom (they nested in one of our bushes this year & had 3 babies, so we have been adopted by them as Grandparents!) will fly against the pool screening and flap their wings to get our attention! Since they have done this several times, we finally figured out that’s them telling us it’s empty & get on the stick already & fill up the feeder! Ha! Happy gardening in the weeks to come! ~Faith

    • Faith, that is so cute about your Cardinals! How smart are they! Yep, I’ve noticed the pecking order thing, too. I notice when the Cardinals fly in, the tiny birds get out of the way and the Blue Jays run off the Cardinals. But guess what trumps Blue Jays? Woodpeckers! When my Red-Headed Woodpeckers or Red-bellied woodpeckers come to the feeder, the Blue Jays get the heck out of the way. I guess they are afraid of getting pecked by that long beak that can punch holes in trees. πŸ™‚ About the dirt baths, I kept finding these fat globs of dirt on the table and I finally figured out it was this crystal stuff that I had mixed into the soil that swells up and holds water. It’s great for potted plants and helps keep them watered. I wonder if he liked that pot because of that. Maybe he was squishing all those little globs of water and taking a combination water/dirt bath. I had never seen one of those things after it was filled with water…they look really strange.

  14. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA says

    Everything looks so lovely…so serene and beautiful. I’ll be over tomorrow morning for coffee on your deck….

  15. Rattlebridge Farm says

    Your backyard is an oasis–love this view of your porches. I am taking notes on your copper caps (I saw them at a house nearby and they really protect the wood). Your story about the dirt-loving chipmunk made me chuckle. Looking forward to seeing what you found at the nursery. I’m returning to HD for more white cone flowers and Russian sage. xx

  16. Susan, you must be so thrilled about your yard makeover. Everything is looking fantastic! Congratulations.

  17. ~Susan~
    Your new yard looks so very nice! The stone stairs would be so pretty. I am going to see if the Leyland Cypress would do well here in northern Indiana, they would probably be a good wall for the blowing snow !!
    The chipmunk story to cute, we have no chipmunks but I have noticed a dead mole that one of the outdoor cats left me on the sidewalk. I know eWwww!
    Take care!

    • Paula, check on the giant Arborvitae (Thuja Greens) too. I’m not sure what zones those work in but they are fast growing evergreens, too. Yuck…don’t we love the gifts our furbabies leave us. lol

      • Susan~
        Thank you, I will check on those also ! I was reading about the Leyland and they seem to get a tree cancer easily?? I have lost 2 of my Holly shrubs and another tree that is looking like this maybe its last year. Funny how we even baby our trees.

  18. Hi Susan , Your yard looks beautiful! On the Leyland Cypress. They are going out of favor because of diseases that have been hitting these tress hard in the last few years. Just like the Red Tip Phitonia, they may not be sold in a few years. I know our Co-op recommends not planting them. We have 5 10 year old Leylands that are dying from some sort of blight. They must come down soon. I hate to think what the cost will be as they are probably 40 ft! An alternative tree that grows fast is the Thuja Green. I like this article from Clemson Happy Planting!

    • Thanks for the article Lizbelle! I had great luck with mine lasting as long as they did but apparently the disease issue is a real problem lately. Thuja Greens was one I had seen on a YouTube video. Hopefully they won’t start getting diseased with everyone using them now instead of the Cypress. I’ll check out the article…thanks for the link!

  19. Susan, The yard is looking so good. You are going to enjoy this so much/mulch! I just wish I was the one selling you mulch.
    Have a good evening.

  20. I just love reading (and seeing) all about your yard! I wanted to ask if you still like your solar post caps on the deck? After I read about yours, I have thought about using them on our new privacy fence; not on every post but just key posts throughout the yard. Are you still happy with yours? Thanks so much! Lynn

    • Thanks, Lynn! I do like them but mine never stay on for very long. They only last 2-3 hours and then they wane quickly. It’s probably due to the shade my back yard gets. If you’re yard gets a lot of sun, you may not have that problem. They don’t provide a lot of light but they do help you to navigate around a deck.

  21. Hi Susan,
    We have planted one Cryptomeria and I will vouch for its slow growth! It is only about 5 feet tall after 2 years of being in the ground. Our nurseryman recommended the Thuja Green as an alternative to the Leyland Cypress. But if you want something that will grow fast, especially if you are not going to be there for another 20 years, then just plant the Leylands!

    • Thanks for letting me know that about the Cryptomeria. I was afraid they were kind of slow because my neighbor planted three in the spring and they don’t appear to have grown any at all, despite all the rain we’ve had. Yea, Thuja Green is the same as Giant Arborvitae, I think. There are some videos on You Tube about those. Apparently, they grow pretty fast. I doubt seriously I’ll be here 20 more years and they aren’t that expensive to take down, as compared to other trees, so I may take a chance on the Leylands again. They were pretty good to me these last 20 years.

  22. Absolutely loverly!

  23. VirginiaGeorgia says

    I would respectfully say re think and then rethink again, planting Lelands. They are across my neighbor’s back property line; dying off from the base up as I type. She “inherited” them and they are not yet 20 years old. A few branches below the middle of the trees are just “shooting off” in a direction of their own choice; not pretty at all. Speed is not always good tho I can understand your goal. . . and IF you sell your home sometime near 20 years think what potential buyers will think. . . I do not know Thuga Green but I am going to tell my neighbor about it.
    Good luck!

    • Mine looked great until recently. My tree guy said the only reason they were starting to look scraggly toward the bottom was due to age, so I had good luck with them. I wonder if your neighbor’s trees have that disease that I’ve heard some Leyland Cypress get. My neighbor on the other side planted Cryptomeria in the spring and they don’t appear to have grown at all. Someone also mentioned in a comment that they are slow growing. I think Thuja Green is the same thing as what I’ve also heard called Giant Arborvitae. They are supposed to be fast growers, too.

  24. Loved reading the story about the chipmunk…we do not have any around here…..the yard is looking wonderful…

  25. We have nevr had chipmonks bUT have had PLENTY of squirels! They actually used to chew through ANYTHING plastic: pots, chairs, etc. I switched to clay pots and got better chairs:):) Your yard is looking gorgeous. Can’t wait to see your flowers too. XO

    • Pinky, they have chewed several places in my outdoor wicker under the pergola. πŸ™ I think they do it out of revenge when they realize they can’t eat from the squirrel proof feeders. #badevilsquirrels!

  26. Oh, Susan, the yards are looking wonderful and lush!!! Good job!!! Can’t help you out with the trees since I live up north……..but those chip monks are certainly little rascals!!! Their tunnels are everywhere and the voles too!! I fill the feeders every evening and throw cracked corn on the ground for all the rodents and greens for the bunnies, great entertainment!!! We’re all God’s creatures…….

  27. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    Oh, I love chipmunks. πŸ˜€ They are some of my favorite animals. The are so cute. I wish you could have captured a little film of him taking his bath, haha. Although, he may not have welcomed the intrusion into his privacy.

    Everything looks so pretty, Susan. You should have been a designer of some sort; even a landscape designer! You could do that, I’m sure, for friends and others who aren’t persnickety about degrees and qualifications. Degree shmagree. If you have the eye, you have the eye, and you, dear lady, have the eye! I love the way the yard looks. Good luck with your continued improvements.

    • Pam, check out today’s post that just went up and you can see some closeups of my mischievous chipmunk. He is a cutie! You are so sweet. Trust me, I’m definitely winging it when it comes to landscaping. I’ve made lots of mistakes over the years…trying to avoid those this time around, if I can! πŸ™‚

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