Master Gardener: Protect your home from the wrath of woodpeckers

Answer: Woodpeckers can cause a lot of damage to a house! Several years ago, I noticed drywall dust on my bedroom nightstand, looked up, and discovered a hole in the wall. A pileated woodpecker had pecked through the cedar siding, sheeting, insulation, and drywall, causing $1,000 worth of damage. I then discovered that insurance doesn’t cover damage from birds. During the past week I have been chasing them off the house every time I happen to hear rat-a-tat-tat.

Related: Ask the Master Gardener: Add a splash of fall color to your yard with shrubberies

There are nine species of woodpeckers found in Minnesota. Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers leave for the winter, but the others stay here year-round. Don’t consider shooting them out your window because woodpeckers are a protected species — it is illegal to kill or trap one without a permit. Wood siding, especially soft wood like cedar, attracts woodpeckers who leave behind holes ranging in size from one-fourth inch to one inch or more. Woodpeckers peck for three reasons: communicating, feeding, or roosting. They often focus on the area just below the eaves. The “drumming” you hear is the woodpecker searching the house for hollow spaces. If a woodpecker is looking for food it will usually leave several small (less than one-half inch) feeding holes scattered over an area or formed into rows. One or two larger holes (an inch or more) are typically a sign of roosting or nesting behavior. It is critical to take action as soon as a woodpecker starts making holes in your siding, and before it has time to make it a part of its routine.

There are some techniques you can try to scare off your woodpeckers, but before you begin, cover or repair any existing holes. For small pea-sized holes,

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Feng Shui Lessons From a Design Master Who Has Your Back

This article is part of our latest Design special report, which is about taking creative leaps in challenging times.

I was clearly in over my head.

When I signed up for an online course in feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice of using design to enhance health and prosperity, I somehow missed the part about its being a “master” class. My fellow students included a graduate of a three-year program on the subject and three women whose homes already had been feng shui-ed by our instructor, Judith Wendell, the founder of Sacred Currents, a Manhattan-based consulting firm.

I, meanwhile, was a complete novice. And I was still struggling with the basics — including how to place the bagua, a template that is used to divide a space into nine zones — while my peers were ticking off “the producing order” of the five elements.

But I wasn’t the only one in trouble; my New York City apartment was, too.

Ceiling fan over bed = bad.

Towering open bookshelves in a bedroom crammed with books = bad.

Bathroom visible from entrance = bad.

My desk pushed against a wall in the living room so my back was to the doorway = bad.

A diagonal wall in my bedroom that meant a section was missing from the “wealth” zone (which might just explain something about our family’s finances) = very, very bad.

I had them all, as well as “fighting doors” (my bedroom door knocked against my closet door when both were open). My kids’ bedrooms had the same affliction, which, it seems, could portend discord or even “hidden adversaries.” Yikes.

Fortunately, Ms. Wendell, 68, a consultant for more than two decades, was empathetic, calm and, above all, pragmatic. She was fully aware that most of us cannot renovate our

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