Imagine spending hours of hard work planting a hundred or more flower bulbs in your garden, only to discover a few days later that they’re all gone. Eaten by squirrels.
Keeping squirrels out of the garden is one of the most frequently discussed topics when it comes to nuisance squirrels. Each spring and again every fall, internet searches for “How to keep squirrels out of garden” increase significantly.
The good news is that there are a variety of methods for dealing with squirrels in the garden.
I’ve organized them into four categories:
• Yard and garden wide techniques
• Above ground techniques
• Below ground techniques
• Planting squirrel resistant plants
Yard and garden wide techniques
A Dog or cat is one way to keep squirrels off your property. I recently wrote about them in an article titled Scaring Squirrels.
Fake owls and rubber snakes have sometimes been used to try to keep squirrels away, but are they effective? I discuss their use in this article.
Offering squirrels something else to eat can be a great way to keep them away from your garden plants. Squirrels prefer nuts, grains and fruit to leafy vegetables. Cellulose, which the cell walls of green plants are made of, is difficult for squirrels to digest. If given a choice between the plants in your garden or a Squirrel Diner Feeder full of peanuts, corn and sunflower seeds, the squirrels will very often choose the squirrel feeder.
But there’s a catch; squirrels bury any extra food they find. It’s their way of preventing it from being eaten by competitors. If you provide the squirrels with something they’d love to eat, they may repay you by burying the excess in your garden. Not only do the make a nuisance of themselves by digging holes around your garden, but before long your tulip garden might become a sunflower, peanut and corn garden.
One way to possibly avoid this situaiton from arising is to use a combination of squirrel deterrent methods. For example, you might put a squirrel feeder in your front yard and let your dog out in the backyard. By implementing both methods at once, you’ll have better success in keeping squirrels out of your backyard garden.
Above ground techniques
When planting flowering bulbs, one of the first things you should do to help prevent squirrels from digging them up again is to clean up any garbage that the bulbs came in, including wrappers, bags, or any other trash or discarded material that is in any way associated with the flower bulbs. Leaving even just a tiny bit of trash behind that the bulbs were wrapped in will be a dead giveaway to any squirrel sniffing around your garden.
Keeping squirrels out of your garden by placing deterrents on or around your plants can also be an effective method for protecting your flowers and vegetables. Here are a few examples.
• Spraying Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent on your plants is effective.
• Some gardeners have stated that simply covering newly planted bulbs with a thick layer of leaves can help protect them. Perhaps the squirrels are not able to smell the bulbs as easily.
• Placing a heavy object such as a large rock or bucket of water directly on top of where flowering bulbs are buried can help to deter squirrels from digging them up. The heavy object is left there until the ground is fully frozen and can then be removed.
• Another popular method for keeping squirrels out of the garden is to use Blood Meal. Most squirrels will avoid blood meal, however, it can stink, especially after getting wet. To maintain it’s effectiveness against hungry squirrels it may need to be reapplied after rains. keep in mind that blood meal is a fertilizer. Before using it to chase away squirrels make sure you know what effect it will have on your plants.
Below ground techniques (this applies mostly to flowering bulbs)
• If bulbs are planted too shallow, squirrels will be able to find them more easily. Plant bulbs at a depth of 2x the bulb’s height.
• Squirrels seldom dig through gravel. You can try placing about an inch of pea gravel on top of the soil surface where bulbs are buried.
• Chicken wire can prevent squirrels from reaching planted bulbs. Place chicken wire on or just under the soil surface. Remove the wire when the ground is frozen. The chicken wire isn’t always fool proof. Some gardeners have had squirrels that were able to locate the edge of the wire and then proceed to tunnel under it to reach the bulbs.
• Chicken wire can also be placed in the bottom of the hole and then wrapped around the bulb. The bulb is able to grow through the holes of the wire.
Planting squirrel resistant bulbs
Types of bulbs squirrels often eat:
The best solution for nuisance squirrels issues is to use a combination of squirrel deterrent methods. For example, covering your planted bulbs with chicken wire while also placing a squirrel feeder on your property can be a very effective method. Squirrels will typically go after the easier food rather then expending so much energy trying to dig through, under or around buried chicken wire.
For more methods on stopping squirrels, check out the home page of How To Stop Squirrels.