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Keeping Squirrels from Digging in Plants

Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in plant containers and the garden. This guide is about keeping squirrels from digging in plants.
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March 16, 20170 found this helpful

Close up of a squirrel.

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You may want to keep squirrels out of your garden or bird feeders. This is a guide about natural repellent for squirrels.

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September 23, 2013

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!

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July 1, 20160 found this helpful

Hello I'm so sorry I'm going to the same problem I don't know what to do either somebody help me I can't afford to build a fancy fence at this one persons talking about I'm all by myself I ordered all kinds of plants from Burpee and they're all gone now they cheered he chewed them all away

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June 5, 2007

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.

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By Marie from West Dundee, IL

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Anonymous Flag
May 18, 20160 found this helpful

Merci, Marie,

I will stop at the dollar store on my way home.

--Janice from Toronto

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February 8, 20170 found this helpful

A squirrel next to a blue flower.

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As cute as they may be squirrels can also make themselves into pests and lose their welcome in your garden. This is a guide about squirrels eating flowers.

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1 found this helpful
August 12, 2013

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.

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1 found this helpful
October 5, 2006

If you have pets or animals that roam your area try adding chicken wire under your plants.

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Questions

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.

3 found this helpful
March 14, 2010

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

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Anonymous Flag
June 1, 20160 found this helpful

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

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June 20, 20160 found this helpful

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

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0 found this helpful
March 30, 2016

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.

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July 25, 20160 found this helpful

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.

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July 30, 20160 found this helpful

My yard is the favorite for squirrels in my neighbourhood, they have killed many seedlings and dig up houseplants that summer outside. They are attracted to potted plants because the soil is soft and easy to dig. Depending on the situation; for plant trays, or large areas or bulb gardens, I use chicken wire. The squirrels (or chipmunks, or pooping cats) can't dig through the wire but the plants can grow through no problem, the wire can be left on a bulb garden year after year. For Pots I put stones. They have the same effect, can't be dug through. Use larger stones so that the animal can't lift it easily and give up.

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0 found this helpful
August 24, 2016 Flag

What is the best way to deter squirrels from digging up flower pots and gardens?

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

The actually make some pellets that you can sprinkle around to keep them out. Mothballs also work until they melt away

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

Hot pepper works, but you have to reapply after watering or rain.

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March 16, 2010

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

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June 17, 20160 found this helpful

Does this work well with stopping birds from eating from blueberry bushes?

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June 17, 20160 found this helpful

Does this work well with stopping birds from eating from blueberry bushes?

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September 10, 2011

The squirrels are destroying my plants by digging in all the pots. Anyone have any methods to preclude this?

By Elizabeth A.

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Anonymous Flag
May 17, 20160 found this helpful

Doesn't work for me, they eat them.

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Anonymous Flag
May 28, 20160 found this helpful

That was asked in another post - said it did NOT work.

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0 found this helpful
July 5, 2012 Flag

How do I keep squirrels out of potted plants on the patio?

By Susan

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July 9, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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July 11, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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0 found this helpful
April 20, 2010 Flag

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.

Thank you.

By Beryl from Brooklyn

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April 20, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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April 20, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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June 8, 2012 Flag

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.

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June 9, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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1 found this helpful
April 20, 2010 Flag


By Ellen Brown


Q: How can I keep squirrels from digging in my outdoor potted plants?

Georgia from N.O., LA

A: Georgia,

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:

  • You might try fitting screen or wire mesh around your potted plants, or covering the dirt around plants with sticky tape or stones. Squirrels seem most attracted to digging in loose, newly turned dirt so follow up with a top layer of mulch.

  • Lure them away from potted plants and bulbs by feeding them corn or sunflower seeds in a feeder located in another part of the yard. This can ultimately result in an increase in the population of squirrels in your yard, but the distraction of the constant food supply is also a good distraction.

  • Try laying human, dog or cat hair around the base of your potted plants. Blood meal may also work in some cases. To be effective, these will need to be reapplied weekly and after it rains.

  • Spray a foul-tasting product, like cayenne pepper spray on and around your plants as they are growing and after each rain.

  • Plant bulbs that squirrels don't like to eat, like narcissus, alliums (ornamental onions) and hyacinths.

  • If all else fails you can live-trap them and relocate them. You'll need permission from authorities to do this, however, and it will not reduce the density of squirrels in your area over time. As old squirrels are transported out, new squirrels simply move into the newly emptied habitat.

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

Answers:

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By valleyrimgirl

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By tedsmom

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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 Digging in My Plants

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)

By ThriftyFun

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By Greg

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By Lisa

RE: Squirrels Digging in My Plants

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By bear

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

I decided to stick wooden skewers in the dirt around my plants. Works like a charm. (08/01/2008)

Squirrels Digging in My Plants

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)

By Beck_wi

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0 found this helpful
March 14, 2010 Flag

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

Answers:

Squirrels Eating Plants

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.

Dorie (06/14/2007)

By Dorie

Squirrels Eating Plants

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)

By Connie

Squirrels Eating Plants

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)

By Amy

Squirrels Eating Plants

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.
(06/14/2007)

By Pauly-Wauly

Squirrels Eating Plants

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)

By Valencia

Squirrels Eating Plants

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)

By Maura

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Anonymous Flag
May 27, 20160 found this helpful

Try using plastic forks. Put them upside down in your dirt that way they get the sharp ends. Its working great for me so far. Good luck. Ps: doesnt look all that nice could try painting them. But its better then those annoying SQUIRRELS!!!

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June 13, 20070 found this helpful
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