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Keeping Squirrels out of Flower Pots and Beds

Yonkers, NY

I spent a fortune on 3 tiny mini hostas and the squirrels tore them up so many times, roots and all this time along with every thing else in pots !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!hope they work.I have tried sprinkling the pots with hot red pepper but nothing seems to stop them. I do not want to hurt them but....Any suggestions ?

South Milwaukee, WI

I was told putting Blood Meal around the plants will keep the squirrel and rabbits away. I have tried it and I think it helps for awhile but I can not swear by it.

Lawrenceville, GA(Zone 7b)

Cats keep squirrels away, do you want me to send you one of mine? LOL
Someone told my husband that squirrels do not like snakes, so they put rubber snakes on branches, in pots, the yard to keep them away.
I use bloodmeal too. Between that and the cats, one of them is working.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

I used 1" cheap plastic mesh from Walmart over the containers, cut mesh with scissors, pinned mesh down with garden staples, cut hole for plant if needed. Squirrels finally quit trying to dig. Nothing else worked. On a few occasions, they tried at an end of the mesh and if they could get the mesh up, they dug. So, I added more garden pins/staples. Pain in the neck to do, but it worked very well. I am going to do this again next year, even if it takes time and energy. It is fairly cheap.

I tried bamboo skewers for plants in ground, but took too many of them and critters still dug them up. I tried sprays and peppers - these worked for short while only. If I get expensive new plants next year, I am going to put mesh down first, pin it down, then add the plant. Pain but I will do it.

I just used this mesh and sand to plant tulip and lily bulbs, hoping this works.

Good luck. I lost most of several new heucheras and many of my other plants to these critters. It is now war. I just put tons (I mean it) of cayenne pepper in the bird feeders and am watching to see if they leave. Last year I thought they were so cute. Ick. Carol

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I also used plastic mesh (bird netting from a local home & garden center) over top of my containers--I wasn't having problems with squirrels ruining plants, but they were burying walnuts in my pots and I was constantly pulling out baby walnut trees. No more baby walnuts after I covered the pots with the mesh!

Yonkers, NY

OH my, thank you for advice....seems you all have squirrel problems too....
I have ordered some VERY hot pepper, cayenne did not work. I was looking for the netting and unable to find it but now I will check at Walmarts.
This problem has been going on year after year but it is getting worse and so frustrating !
Thanks so much for all of your help.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

The netting I used is the same stuff you buy to put around berry bushes to keep the birds off of them. This might not be a good time of year for you to find it locally--especially someplace like Walmart they probably don't carry much gardening stuff in the fall/winter. If you can't find it there you might try a nursery instead, or else you could probably get it from one of the mail order garden supply places.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Stormcloud: What kind of hot pepper, where did you get it, can you get it without high shipping costs? I am watching the feeders. Cannot tell if even birds are going there yet. It has been raining for some time - on and off. I only saw one rodent this morning so far, in upper part of garden - not near the feeders yet. The lousy rodents (mean it) also donate fleas to my cats when they get to venture out. Now treating lawn for chiggers and fleas. Treating cats for fleas. And I thought squirrels were cute once upon a time. When we moved here about 14 years ago we had both red and grey squirrels. The greys ran the reds off.

Plano, TX

i think my mystery of what is eating my plants is solved--i never thought of squirrels--thought of bunnies, birds, the turtles that live in my yard but now i think i know who has eaten my plants and leave little divets all over the mulch!

Yonkers, NY

PLEASE do not use hot pepper for a repellent.It really doses not work anyway and I just read that it has been banned in several areas because it burns the poor squirrels nose and mouth and can also blind them. I had just ordered a jar online and paid $9.00 to ship the $6.00 jar but I will surely not be using it. How sad to think of harming the poor innocent rodents. NEVER

Try using human or dog hair in the pots as a repellent. And no thank you, I do not want a cat !!! I have 7 dogs !

Centennial, CO(Zone 5b)

Here is what we use to deter squirrels from digging up bulbs:

1) mix in fresh, strong smelling coffee grounds & plant bulbs
2) cover with layer of used bedding from a friend's pet rabbits

The 2 odors are both repellent, do no harm to the squirrels, and smell of coffee will make your neighbors wonder what in the heck you are growing...

Yonkers, NY

Thanks, Greenjay....this sounds like great advice and I am going to get right on trying it !!!

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Maybe if the squirrels were blind they wouldn't be able to find my gardens!! LOL (just kidding, a little)
I resorted to using chicken wire bury it just under the soil. Had to use hardware cloth and garlic for the chipmunks(the squirrels cousin) and they are not the cute disney chip and dale characters. They eat birds eggs!

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

YEAH! No more squirrels. At least not tons of them. Only a few around now. Lots of birds. One inch of cayenne pepper in bird feeders is OK. Finally. The rodents appear to have left my yard for other yards. No more holes everywhere. My lawn looked like a mine field - holes everywhere. All my new plants were dug up - maybe not anymore. Maybe I can enjoy retirement. Maybe I do not need to get a shotgun. Maybe I do not have to learn to like squirrel stew. I could not believe those rodents could do so much damage. Even tear up a grass yard? For 2 years they have dug up my plants. The plastic mesh, bamboo skewers, pepper wax spray, cayenne powder all together seem to have worked, and not letting them eat the birdfood. I am really tired. Thought gardening was a hobby - not this much work. Thought I had to deal with bugs - not large rodents. I will post again if I am wrong again. Carol

Yonkers, NY

Awwww....sorry about all of your trouble over these Squirrels, Carol....I have all the same issues here and have for many years.
BUT, to burn and/or blind the poor critters ?? NO WAY FOR ME.
There has to be a better way....

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

I am not so sure about the hot pepper. I have heard it will keep them off of things. But It does not work with deer I can tell you that. Just last summer I had deer eating up some nice Hosta and a Hibiscus. I put enough pepper on them to acually give the leaves a red tinge. Come out the next morning and all there was left was a few bitten off leaves. with a little red pepper still on there. They had eaten all the rest. Trouble with squirrels is they multiply like mice and rats almost. I was told by a conservation agent that a 2 squirrel population will explode to 50 inside of a year with no problem. Being rural on a lake I deal with them from the end of a 20 ga. Seems that is the only solution we have around here. They can be the most damaging animal I have ever seen for the verity of thing that they will chew. As far as digging goes,we have Armadillo's now in the Ozarks and they dig like little backhoes.

Yonkers, NY

Try dog and Human hair in pots and beds....supposed to repel the squirrels.
As for the Deer...never heard of anything that worked. Sigh

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

I know something that will work on deer but you have to be rural it involves stinging thier rump very well. So I do not recommend it. I do not think hair would do anything aound here. I do pretty well with a concotion of 18 eggs and about 1/4 cup of garlic in 4 gals of water. You just have to do it a lot. If you read the lable real well on products like liquid fence you will see that is all it really is. It is just a matter of hetting the right mix.

I live in a resort type area with a lot of summer homes Squirrels will do extreme damage to things like wood decks step siding and anything else they can chew. The only way we can control them is by keeping the population in check. That might not set well with some people but that is what has to be done here.

Yonkers, NY

Hmmmm well I see the issue both ways and I do suffer a lot of squirrel damage here. In fact last winter they chewed right through our wooden garage door to get inside and find birdseed I had stored in a plastic bin in there. They chewed thru the bin and enjoyed my birdseed.....sigh
Every morning I have to go out to my garden and replant all the little plants they dig up.
BUT...I would never harm them....I just wish I could find something to repel them from certain things.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

The problem is the populations grows so fast if left unchecked the squirrels will control you not you the squirrels. I have oaks and Hickory trees in my yard big enought that you could load a back of a pickup truck with all the nuts in the fall. You would thing that would prevent them from raiding the feeders and chewing up everything else but it does not.

I do not think you can really discourge them. At least that is what the state trapper told me.

South Londonderry, VT(Zone 4b)

Something was eating my Oriental Lilies, chewing right through the stems. After everythng else failed, in desperation I
sprayed bitter apple on the remaining stems. It didn't hurt the plants and nothing ate them. I have a very large squirrel
population.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

Never heard of that one before

Yonkers, NY

WOW...I never heard of spraying the bitter apple before either but I sure am going to try it.
I have a bottle of it here to keep the doggies from chewing furniture but it has not worked for that. !

Thanks for sharing your tip !

belleville, NJ(Zone 6a)

what is bitter apple?

amy
*

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

It's a spray you can buy that tastes really nasty, usually it's sold to spray on things you don't want your dog to chew

Georgetown, TX(Zone 8a)

I use Bitter Apple on my dog because she has a habit of licking/chewing at a certain spot on her front leg. It works well for that. I would think it would be a good idea to try it in the garden.

We just moved to a rural area with lots of woods. The houses are set very far apart, and there have only been houses out here for about 5 years. I haven't seen many squirrels yet, but we had tons of them in our old neighborhood which was in town. They used to dig up my plants all the time. They multiply more in town than in the country because out here there are still coyotes and who knows what else to help keep the population down.

I've asked Santa for an owl house for Christmas. The man at the Wild Birds Unlimited store said pretty much as soon as you put one up, you will have an owl move in around here. He had one in his 12 hours after he put it up. I don't know if owls get many squirrels because squirrels are mostly diurnal and owls are nocturnal, but I'd like to have an owl around anyway. At least they will keep the mice down, and as long as it's not a screech owl I think it would sound cool at night. I know for a fact that hawks take squirrels because I saw one with one at our old place, but I don't know how to attract hawks. I don't particularly want the coyotes around too close because we have a smallish dog, but they are awesome to hear "singing" off in the distance.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

I would not bet on anything the man in the wild bird store said about owl houses. I do believe you will get a squirrel in there a lot faster. Besides remember owls are night creatures. I find it hard to believe they will do any damage to the squirrels. If your going to be rural and the distance is far apart I would go to a shotgun. 20 ga with shells with what is called a game load and number 6 shot. that is what I use a lot of the time when they are hopping around in the trees. A lot of people make the mistake of using a 410 ga shotgun on squirrels but it will wound a lot more than it will kill. and many kills are not clean. If I have to resort to shooting I like a clean kill. All I use my 410 for is to shoot deer in the rump with. At about 20 yrds, 7 1/2 size shot it will not penatratethe hide on their thick rump. But it gives them a sore rump for a few days and a life long memory of a place to avoid returning to. If no shotgun them go to a good Pellet rifle with a scope. Never underestimate the power of a good pellet rifle like RWS with 1000 lbs muzzel velocity. I have one and and it has a 4 power scope on it. At 25 yards I could pick off pingpong balls all day long and never miss. But it is hard to use on running squirrels. You must have a steady aim. The ammo is cheaper is the main thing.

Georgetown, TX(Zone 8a)

We're not THAT rural. When I say the houses are set far apart, I mean a few acres a lot, not half a mile. I did tell my daughter if she wanted to watch for that buck who decided to make my new smoke tree a scrape (he rubbed his horns on it every night until I put a fence around it) and pop his rear with her BB gun, more power to her. I don't think the neighborhood association would appreciate me getting after him with a shotgun though.

I don't have any reason to doubt the word of the bird store guy. He's been a small business owner in the area for many years and is an authority on all things bird. He wouldn't be able to build a business based on a hobby like birding if he lied to customers just to make a sale. Yes, I remember owls are night creatures. I mentioned it in my original post. But you never know, they might get lucky. As it is now, I haven't seen any squirrels so I think there would be at least as good of a chance of an owl claiming an owl house as a squirrel.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would rather see an owl house than an injured squirrel any day, yes they do a lot of damage to the plants, bulbs and trees we all want to grow, I have been told to hang bags of human hair up on the garden beside the shrubs and plants that the deer eat and also the squirrels dont like it either as they smell of humans sends them packing, but you must refresh it every week ?????
also on the market is a product from lion droppings, dont ask me where to get it, but I believe it is mail order so who knows, maybe the stuff is in USA and not in UK YET.
The best deterrent I have found is the chicken wire, the plants and bulbs will grow through it and the squirrels cant scrape the soil under it, so you dont see it, the wholes in the lawn are them burying there nuts for winter shortages, but as Ecrane found out, they dont come back for them, so the nuts germinate. Water squirting on a timer is supposed to help too but cant be bothered setting it all up to be honest, Squirrels are still active when the owls are about at dusk/dawn, I have hawks and buzzards, but we still have squirrels, sigh, sigh and sigh again. good luck to you all, WeeNel.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

Well everyone deals with it in there own way. Squirrels here MUST be controlled and thecsame appies to deer. we had the first weekend of the annual deer season 2 weeks ago and the state recorded more than 100,000 taken. I do not hunt deer by the way only time I have ever shot a deer is for a determint as discrobed above. I have shot more squirrels than I can count. Very Very few of them were anything but clean kills. Below is a picture of what a squirrel can do in a few minutes. I just will not have my property destroyed. That is the main thing round here is destruction of property.

Wee Nel I do not know how long you been doing the human hair thing but the deer will usually get used to it after a time and totally ignore the hair.

This message was edited Nov 27, 2007 9:15 AM

Thumbnail by ozarkian
Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I agree with you that the deer and the squirrels are so destructive, I also agree that you need to try control them. What was also my own opinion, was how that is done, where I live, which is surrounded by woodland, that was my choice, to live in lovely green, lush, fertile area of the countryside, this in turn was where the deer, squirrels, birds and many other wild animals had inhabited long before I arrived, so I look on it that I was the intruder, yet I will still continue to grow plants that are not favourable to the deer, yet know that there is very little they wont eat, the squirrels drive me nuts as they also cant distinguish between a garden plant or a wild tree/shrub or flower, but I am happy to continue enjoying such wildlife on my doorstep, keep trying different methods to distract rather than kill them. I am also happy that I have a full veg garden that feeds my family even though the deer eat some of the veg and fruit, to grow any shrub or plant that I love and admire so long as I can stay one step ahead of all the wildlife and protect the plants to an extent, (you cant beat them all the time) so that is what my gardening is all about, we all have different ideas and methods of dealing with whatever conditions we have, and I dont remember saying there was a right or wrong way, I said what my own preferences were, no one was ever condemning other methods, just giving ideas for others to try.
As regards the human hair, I did write that you need to change the hair every week ???? so (get friendly with local hairdresser) and you also need to change the position you hang it up, you can also add it to your compost so long as there are no chemical treated hair, it only helps, it dont mean you wont see any wildlife ever again. hope this clears things up a bit, Happy gardening, Weenel.

Yonkers, NY

I put up 2 Owl houses a couple of years ago and the squirrels immediately moved in, nested and had babies. It was so cute to see those little ones out on the little front porch waiting for their Mama.
Sorry....I do not believe anyone has the right to destroy G-ds creatures....the wildlife was here before we were.

As to the human hair, well it does not repel anything here,I tried it in every way suggested and even groomed my dogs out there for the hair. No Good at all....
I will keep tryng to have them move from my garden area but will never harm a living creature.
Yes, I have had plenty of damage here....last winter they chewed a hole right thru our wooden garage door.

Mableton, GA(Zone 7a)

Just curious, do you use any pesticides for insect control, chemical or organic? God made bugs too.
Rodents were here before us, and will be after us, but OUR arrival has provided them with an unnaturally easy supply of food and their numbers are getting out of control. I resorted to traps. I caught a few and carried them off to a park, but it had to be 2 MILES away to keep them from find their way home. (According to a ranger.)
I had to stop putting out birdseed all together this spring. For the first time in 10 years, I had not only 10's of squirrels in my 1/3 acre lot, but I also had rats coming up from the woods to within 1 FT. of my house, at 10:00 am in the morning!
So now the rodents are not only digging and eating $100's of dollars in bulbs (not to mention all of the hours in the blazing GA sun I work), they have also robbed me of bird watching. I use to have lots and lots of species coming through, as well as my regulars.
I use to LOVE the squirrels too and I WISH I could have a few, live with them, and them eat a bulb or plant or two, but that isn't the case. They are oportunistic rodents (like they were made to be) and they should be controlled just like the deer population is. If we have an infestation, fleas will be the least of the pest and disease problems we have to worry about.
Unfortunately, I live in a subdivision and have no legal way other that trapping to compete with there numbers.
Rabbits are out of control here too. And they are REALLY cute. Yet when you drive through in the night you see HUNDREDS of little pairs of eyes. For 3 years in a row, they have eaten my 2 varigated hydrangeas to the ground! Plus many annual and perrenials. They LOVE my 7 yr. olds black eyed susans. (Now those are tought plants. Eaten to the ground 3 times in one year and still it tries!) And rabbits are WAY to clever to come anywhere near a trap. D*#% rabbits.
I have purchased fox urine now. I pray that it will be the silver bullet and end all this angst so we can all just get along!

belleville, NJ(Zone 6a)

stormcloud -
are you a vegetarian? or vegan?
i won't eat anything i wouldn't be willing to kill myself, so i cut out meat - except fish - many years ago.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

test

Yonkers, NY

Yes,amethystsm, I most certainly am a vegetarian. I have been for over 20 years.
I would not kill it and I would not eat it !!
And yes, like you I do eat fish and I do eat eggs.
I have had an extreme amount of damage this winter from the squirrels but I continue to feed them and clean up after them. They were on this property before I was.

Plano, TX

sometimes we have a coyote in our neighborhood even tho it has been here a while and people get upset but again --they were here first and it is like they are the last few left in the area and i hate to have them go! does that sound crazy?

Yonkers, NY

Not to me it does not sound "crazy".
I think if the Coyote bothers someone, and I know they do as we had some living in a empty lot next door to us, then we are the ones who should put up a fence to keep them out of our yards.
Do not let little pet animals or little children out alone when you know that you have coyotes in your area.

Gravois Mills, MO(Zone 6a)

I do not think a lot of you on here really fully understand conservation and its relation to animal control. Yes the animals were here first. But they breed at a lot higher rate than humans. They also run into problems on roadways in yards and other places if they get to be to numerous. It is not that the animals were there first it is that given a choice they would stay back in the woods etc. but when you have over population of them you force them into these situations. If your really serious about balance between a over population of some animal like deer then maybe practice birth control are have no children at all since there is no way man and animals can share the same ground. Remember they are subject to many diseases that can be transmitted to man. When you let them over populate they weeken and become liable to come down with certain things. Other animals are not so cute as they appear. Raccoon,coyotes, squirrels etc all can come down with rabbies. Deer can be exremely dangerous at times. We had a lady here abpout 2 yrs ago that was feeding a doe. The doe came with her fawn one morning and the lady did not see it ( the doe will many times make the fawn hide in a spot until dhe fimnishes feeding that is how they are) and the doe proceeded to almost stomp her to death. Your urban sprawl and to many people is the problem with animals. They are not the problem the people are. One pair of squirrels can become 50 squirrel in about a year. Coyotes have 6-8 pups. About 1/3 of the deer births are twins. So you got a chioces. Cantrol them, let them run over you are just move back into the city.

Plano, TX

i still hate to see them go--just like i hate to see an animal become extinct-- because something is going to happen or even needs to happen sure doesn't mean i have to like it!

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