Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
I have lost hundreds of dollars and many man hours due to squirrels digging in potted plants. I would come home from work only to find many pots knocked off a wall or bench. The plants, sometimes expensive, would be lying beside the pots with roots having been exposed to hot sun all day. Many plants could not be salvaged.
In the picture, the pot on the right shows what I've had to resort to in order to keep the squirrels at bay, mounding the pots high with small rocks. Moving large pots with all those rocks was quite a chore.
The pot on the left shows an experiment I started today. I have cut blackberry vines covered with merciless thorns into small segments and placed them very close together in the top of the pot, sticking up in the soil and lying down on the soil. There's no way a little paw can dig in the pot without encountering many thorns.
As I said, this is an experiment I started today. If the vines prove to be an effective squirrel deterrent, I will post back with the good news.
Wish me luck!
During the summer, I plant vegetables in containers and keep them on my deck. In the past, I've had a great deal of difficulty keeping the squirrels from digging up my new sprouts. A friend gave me an idea which has worked well. What you do is get a package of bamboo skewers, which usually runs about a dollar, and stick the skewers into the soil, with the points sticking up out of the soil and over the edge of the pot. This deters the squirrels from climbing into the pots to dig up the seedlings. It's worked very well, no squirrels have been injured, and my vegetables are allowed to flourish.
Don't bother with the tip about scattering moth balls. I did this and next morning, they were all GONE. The squirrels must have loved them. My face fell a mile. Ha Ha.
If you have pets or animals that roam your area try adding chicken wire under your plants. This way if something tries to dig in your garden or flower beds, it will stop them in their tracks. Most animals who dig do not like the feeling they get when they scratch their paws along the wire. It also serves a dual purpose - it acts as a grid for planning your plantings!
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Squirrels come onto my patio and dig dirt out of my plant/flower pots. How can I keep them from doing that? I know they like to dig (ground squirrels), but why my flower pots? This is the second year in a row.
I have a neighbour who feeds the squirrels peanuts. They run directly across from her house to my flower pots. I've tried all the recommended remedies: cayenne pepper, chicken manure, blood meal, and the latest - chicken wire. Nothing works. Sorry.
I wonder if a couple layers of rocks would help. The rocks, about the size of quarters, would let water through to water the plants but wouldn't be great for burying the peanuts. Of course, this would be for plants that are already growing, not for seedlings. I see little bags of polished stones in the Dollar store, if you don't have access to a beach or the like.
I tried to plant seeds and then actual plants in my porch flower boxes. The squirrels keep digging them up and destroying them. I live across the street from a park. I tried putting mesh on top of the soil, I tried moth crystals, no help. Anybody got an idea? Planting season is soon here in Milwaukee and I want some flowers.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Kathy from Milwaukee, WI
One of the most effective remedies I found is to use gutter guard around the perimeter of the planter. Make sure to cut the top with a tin snip or sharp scissor so the edges are sharp. Also, since gutter guard contains small openings, you can place sticks and such through them. This seems to keep squirrels and chipmunks away
I think squirrels are digging in my window boxes on my deck. What can I put in the boxes to deter the squirrels. Without killing my plants
The day before yesterday I planted over 50 sunflower seeds against our fence post in the back yard. Later that day and the next morning I noticed a squirrel over by the fence. I checked and do you know he dug up and ate all of my sunflower seeds all down the row of the fence. They were all cracked open and just laying there.
My mom said, because we have them on hand to stake some disposable red plates just around the line of the seeds when I plant them until they sprout.
Will this work? Any suggestions will help, because of course I want to plant more, but not for the squirrel to eat. Do they watch you do this or do they actually smell the seeds underground? Help.
Hardiness Zone: 10a
By Laura from Ocala, FL
Does this work well with stopping birds from eating from blueberry bushes?
Does this work well with stopping birds from eating from blueberry bushes?
The squirrels are destroying my plants by digging in all the pots. Anyone have any methods to preclude this?
By Elizabeth A.
Doesn't work for me, they eat them.
That was asked in another post - said it did NOT work.
What is the best way to deter squirrels from digging up flower pots and gardens?
I live in a garden apartment and my upstairs neighbor feeds the very large squirrel population. I love to grow flowers in planters on the stoop, but the squirrels uproot the flowers and I find them lying dead next to the planters.
Does anyone know any "annual" flowers that they don't like or have any suggestions? I'm so tired of spending money on flowers and it also makes me so sad to see them destroyed. (Forget the neighbor, as no one can make him stop feeding them.) Thanks.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By SBTulip115 from Queens, NY
Buy a cat.
No it doesn't work. I have use chili powder, cayenne pepper, hot peppers, white and apple cider vinegar separate and together and Nothing works. Sorry
How do I keep squirrels out of potted plants on the patio?
Try cutting saucer-like collars out of chicken wire to lay on top of the dirt in the pots. There is also a plastic called Bird Netting that you could use and might look better as it is black. It would be easier to cut. Both of these can be purchased at a hardware store.
A few years ago, squirrels dug up all my avocado trees to eat the pits they were growing from. I guess they were easy food.
What can I purchase to stop squirrels from digging up all of my plants? I need the name of a product and where it can be purchased.
By Beryl from Brooklyn
Why don't you go to the hardware store and buy a roll of chicken wire and spread it over the area in question? You can anchor it down with some rocks. That way you don't have to use chemicals and sprays. Forget the moth balls. They don't work.
I haven't found anything to apply to the flower pots on my patio to keep the squirrels out. They dig the dirt out and eat the roots. Unfortunately, it is illegal in the city I live in to even shoot them with a pellet gun. I would recommend screen material rather than chicken wire, because the little devils can probably get their grubby paws in the openings of the chicken wire. However, unless you have a large number of pots and/or storage room, buying a roll of either one isn't really feasible.
I also have trouble with rabbits eating the plants---they must think it is a salad bar, lol. I have tried the pepper spray, sprinkling cayenne pepper on them, and using the bags of animal hair. Living in a apartment complex there isn't much I can do in the yard. All I can say is I have decided these little critters that some people think are so cute are a real pain in the you know where. Oh yes! We also have a flock of about 14 wild turkeys that roam around here. I know some of the people around here are feeding all of the wild things around here, and if they would quit, the critters wouldn't find the complex so inviting.
Squirrels are eating my tomatoes! I've tried every trick in the book, chicken wire to surround plants, doffee grounds, skunk plants, whirrley-birds, flags, streamers, fake snakes, fake owls, moth balls, Shake Away urine granules (and human, I was desperate), dog hair and human hair. I put grease and hot pepper on the fence and plants last year. The hot pepper on my plants killed the leaves and vines!
My dogs were indoor animals so I couldn't leave them outside all day. Tonight I tried another hot pepper receipt to spray (instead of shake) on tomatoes, but the spray bottle atomizer clogged up, so instead of wasting the mixture, I just shook it over parts of the plants and fence. Am I supposed to be using a commercial-type garden sprayer or just a kitchen-type sprayer?
A squirrel was even hanging upside-down eating sugar water out of my humming bird feeder. I don't want to kill them, but that was suggested and then hang the body by the tomatoes to ward off other squirrels.
Any more suggestions would be appreciated.
Hardiness Zone: 6b
By Doody from Dayton, OH
I have a squirrel problems at my apartment they come on the ledge and try to come inside.
What is the best way to get rid of them and open my windows this spring?
mix cheap hot pepper sauce and veg. oil 50/50 and spray areas where you do not want squirrels or other animals and repeat weekly and after it rains. works on bird feeders-spray everything except where seed comes out even hanger.
I have a balcony one floor up from the ground. There are trees on either side, and the squirrels climb up them, then onto a ledge, then onto my balcony where they dig in my flower pots and eat through the wire on my string lights.
I bought tall planters which stopped them for a while, and now they've figured how to get into those and dig and kick the dirt all over the balcony.
I'm wondering if there is some sort of a shield that can be attached to the trees that might have barbed wire or some other pointy/ouchy surface that would deter the little brats. Any ideas?
By Lynn G.
If this is an apartment building the trees are in a common area and can't be tampered with. Have you thought of putting some sort of ouchies in the dirt in your flower pots and around the railing of the balcony? I can't really be reasonable about this because I can't stand squirrels. As far as I am concerned they are tree rats. They are smart enough not to come back if they get nicked in the hiney when they jump onto the balcony railing.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Is there a home remedy I can use to keep squirrels from eating the plants in my garden?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
MARIE from Garden City, NY
I have never had a problem with my squirrels eating or destroying anything in my large garden.
I feed the squirrels good food so they don't bother my garden.
I just love watching squirrels and possum and I feed them.
I use chili powder around the base of my plants. Have used it for years and it has never hurt any of the plants. Walgreen's will put the big bottles of spices on sale and when they do I usually stock up. Keeps them from digging anything up. You do have to re apply it if it rains and when you water, but a little goes along way. Good luck. Works for me. (06/14/2007)
Be careful using cayenne pepper. If there are pets around, they could pick it up on their paws and end up getting it in their eyes.
Bloodmeal is a good choice. You can also try using shiny pinwheels around the perimeter of the garden. The colors and movement scare animals away.
I have never seen the squirrels eat anything in my garden. Usually, they are planting things: peanuts, shells, acorns, etc. Someone around here feeds them peanuts and they are not really scared of people. I was picking strawberries and had a squirrel come up and sniff my hand. It surprised me so much, I went in the house and got a couple of walnuts. The squirrel came and took them right out of my hand. Guess the peanuts keep them away from the garden. (06/14/2007)
Oh, and the coffee grounds/hot pepper/soap suggestions are excellent ideas. We've used coffee grounds at the base of our plants and had scarcely a critter eat our tomatoes in the past two years.
I know how frustrating it is to walk up to your plants and see a big, juicy ripe tomato, turn it over and find a perfectly symmetrical bite mark in it. A single bite.
Don't worry. Try the mesh/wire and the coffee grounds and you'll be fine.
Hang rags soaked in vinegar near you plants. Most rodents hate the smell even when dry. Re-soak in about a week. (06/17/2007)
I was told to put moth balls around the plants. I put them down two nights ago and it seems to be working. I was so upset to see around 20 of my tomatoes on the ground half eaten by them. (07/26/2007)
Q: How can I keep squirrels from digging in my outdoor potted plants?
Georgia from N.O., LA
Commercial repellents (sprays, etc.) are usually only marginally effective for controlling squirrels. Your best line of defense is to physically separate them from wherever you don't want them to be. Here are some things to try:
Since the squirrel population is likely to outlive your potted plants, your best bet is to deploy a number of these methods, alone or in combination with one another until you find something that works. Plan on having a few victories and probably a few defeats.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
If you are talking about plain old digging around plants and not digging them up, you can use pepper spray (available at Lowe's etc.) around and on the plants. Be careful though, some people are very allergic to the spray and just brushing against leaves with the spray on them will give them hives. If you are talking about squirrels digging up and eating tulip bulbs, the best thing to do is to put chicken wire over the bulbs so the little varmints can't dig down to them. (10/14/2004)
By Lea Soffer
Don't bother spending money to buy a spray that is already mixed up, just sprinkle cayenne pepper on the top of the plants and soil. If you have another kind of pepper that is hot, that will work too. I sometimes spray the plant with water first so that the pepper will stick better to the plant. Some people use Tabasco sauce just like you would with an indoor rabbit chewing on the corner of your table legs. You should have no problem with squirrels after this. (10/14/2004)
Try putting mothballs in amongst your plants. I did this in South Georgia and it stopped them from digging in my hanging baskets. It also stopped them from digging up my impatiens planted in the ground. (10/15/2004)
You can buy blood and bone meal at the hardware store. Squirrels hate it and it does wonders for you plants Mix some in with the soil and the smell will drive them off. There is no noticeable smell for humans. (10/15/2004)
By Susan from Hamilton
Squirrels in potted plants, here is what we do; put some chicken wire on top of pot around the plant and weigh it down with a few medium size stones. Works every time. (10/15/2004)
Moth balls didn't work very well for us. The squirrels just used them like bowling balls and played with them all day long. We will try the hot pepper spray and hopefully it will work. (05/24/2007)
Not only are the little varmints digging in my plants, they left a big piece of chicken in my tiny tree and broke a bunch of branches. My neighbor said he left his subway sandwich in the car and when he came out, squirrels were stealing it from inside the car. They are starting to get bold. I might leave my cat on the deck as a deterrent, he has gotten bits and pieces of them but never a kill. The squirrels could care less about my 85lb. dog, but they do fear the cat! (06/30/2007)
I have recently found a great product that protects the soil of my potted plants from the cats! It keeps them from using the soil as a litter box. Maybe this will help you resolve the squirrel issue. Check out the web site: dirtylittlecover-up.com (11/18/2007)
I have had great success with using mothballs. A cheap alternative to these sprays and other treatments. I would have them in my pots and garden every morning. Once I scattered mothballs throughout the garden (about 8 feet apart) and placed a mothball in pots that I didn't want them in, they have not been back. I see them on my fence, but not a single hole or dug up seedling again. It's worked for me! Good luck! (05/16/2008)
By Paul R. Lewis
Forgot to mention that the moth balls worked for me here in the Dallas, TX area. Here's a site that offers a lot of suggestions for dealing with pesky squirrels: http://www.squirrels.org/control.html
Good luck! (05/16/2008)
By Paul R. Lewis
Get a Jack Russell. My dog spends his whole day looking for ground squirrels with enough guts to come anywhere near my garden! Before I got him and trained him to be obsessed with protecting my garden from the little buggers, the squirrels would dig up my baby plants and chew the skin and branches off, killing my plants. The squirrels will not come close anymore thanks to my dog. (07/16/2008)
I decided to stick wooden skewers in the dirt around my plants. Works like a charm. (08/01/2008)
I find forks work well. Push them just under the soil, poky side up. You can't see them but they'll get a stab as soon as they start to dig. (03/14/2010)