Are you fed up with squirrels digging up your potted plants? Spring is on its way and it’s the time of year when the battle between gardener and squirrel commences. Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in plant pots and the garden and I’m sure many of you have gone out to tend to your carefully planted containers only to find chaos, with pots knocked over, bulbs gone & plants & flowers uprooted and lying half dead next to the pots. On investigation of the remaining soil in the pot you may have found buried whole peanuts or even wrapped chocolates! The squirrels have visited….
How to stop them
Here are a few tricks to stop these pests from becoming a serious nuisance. These work best with container gardening but they can also be applied directly to small areas of your garden beds.
The most obvious way to stop squirrels in their tracks is to put physical barriers in their way… Try covering the surface of the pot with attractive rocks and stones. Henry Street Garden Centre sells a good variety of decorative cobbles and rocks that the squirrels won’t be able to budge and yet they’ll enhance the appearance of your garden containers.
A very economical solution is to stick bamboo skewers in your pots with the pointy ends upwards. The squirrels will be deterred by the sharpness of the points and your plants will be left alone to flourish!
Try laying chicken wire just under the top level of soil when planting bulbs to prevent squirrels from digging them out. Remove it when shoots appear.
One of the most commonly used tricks to keep squirrels out of potted plants is to put something in the pots that the squirrels won’t like. Mix in fresh, strong smelling coffee grounds with the top layer of soil. The odour is repellent to squirrels but does them no harm.
Make your own Hot Pepper Spray. They do not like the spiciness at all and having come across it once, they will try their hardest to avoid it. You can make pepper spray by combining a couple of teaspoons of washing up liquid with a small bottle of hot pepper sauce and water. Put it into a plastic spray bottle to apply.
Commercial pepper sprays are also available specifically for keeping squirrels away from plants and gardens. If you don’t want to actually spray your plants, sprinkle hot red pepper flakes or powder in the soil around the plants to keep squirrels away. Of course you’ll need to repeat this regularly, especially after each time it rains.
Bone meal is also pretty repulsive to squirrels. Usually made from the blood of pigs and cows it is a natural fertiliser high in nitrogen and ammonia, and has a strong bloodlike scent that scares off squirrels. The added bonus is that you will be adding nitrogen to your soil at the same time!
There are products on the market which work by taking advantage of the squirrels fear of its predator and encourages them to well and truly keep their distance. It has been reported that the same thing applies to human and animal hair. It does sound gross but you don’t need huge clumps, just a few strands sprinkled on the top of your pots each time you cut your hair or brush your dog.
Whatever method you deploy we wish you luck! If you have found something that works particularly well that we have not listed here, please do tell us about it! What methods have you used to keep these pesky animals away from your growing plants? www.henrystreet.co.uk