Monday, April 11, 2016

A handy solution to protect your plants in your tortoise yard

Tortoises are little bulldozers. They will flatten plants by walking across and over them (again and again), or will eat them down to the root, permanently destroying them. In an outdoor tortoise enclosure, it can be really frustrating when your hard work (and money) gets eaten or trampled.

Lady, squishing a cranesbill geranium
I wanted to share the following quick, easy, and cheap solution with you: Dollar Store hanging baskets + landscaping staples!
Dollar Store planting basket, fastened down with landscaping staples
Get a couple of the metal hanging baskets from Dollar Store, and detach the chains. Flip it over, and place it over the plant you desire to protect. Then use 2 or 3 landscaping staples to fasten the basket down to the ground. This way, the tortoise(s) will be able to eat the leaves that grow out of the basket, but won't be able to flatten and destroy the entire plant.

Here is the kind of staple I use (but any kind will work):
Landscape staples example
You may consider adding a bright little piece of tape to each basket, so you can see it more easily - I've stepped on a few of them, squishing them accidentally.

I have about 8 or 9 such planter baskets, in addition to several other similarly shaped plant savers that I got from Goodwill - e.g. fruit baskets, cookie drying racks, etc. that I've installed in a similar matter, to protect the roots and base of a plant, while allowing the tortoises to graze off the leaves that stick out.

Some tall phlox, starting to grow this Spring
One word of caution: when choosing items to use for protecting your plants, be mindful of preventing tortoise feet from getting caught. This is one reason I don't use e.g. chicken wire structures. 


  1. I might sound overly anxious, but are you not worried that the tortoise will dig, because Russian torts do, and hurt itself on a staple?

    1. Since the staples are 6" long, and the ends aren't really sharp, I wouldn't worry about it. There are so many much more inviting spots for the tortoises to dig in. They have tried to bulldoze their way into the planting baskets, but haven't focused their digging powers on them.


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