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Keeping Squirrels from Digging in Plants

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.

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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.

By Marie from West Dundee, IL

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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.

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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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Squirrels love to hide their food. In the process of doing this, they tend to bury the food in soft dirt which is usually a newly planted garden.

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

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20 Questions

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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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March 14, 20103 found this helpful

I understand your frustration, but since 2006, squirrels around the world have been going hungry because of weather disturbances/out of phase resulting in little or no nut crops. They are starving. In 2006 it happened in Poland, Russia, and I think it was last year or year before all along Eastern seaboard here as well as more westerly from there.They even attacked a dog, and here, were digging in garbage cans, etc.

Perhaps if you put out something for them to eat more to their taste, like peanut butter and oatmeal balls or nuts slightly away from where you want plants they might learn to look there. I realize that would be inviting
squirrel chaos, but I feel sorry for them.

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March 14, 20100 found this helpful

I use Twirlers from Kmart, the kind kids use to play with. They go around when wind is blowing, like windmills. I also save the tops that come on large cans that look like foil. Hang it in the garden. Or just use foil you have in the kitchen. Also, hot pepper sauce will do the job.

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March 14, 20100 found this helpful

I've used plastic forks to keep chipmunks out of my planters. Just push the fork in the soil, handle first, so the tines of the fork are just under the soil. You won't be able to see them, but the squirrels will get a poke as soon as they start to dig. It doesn't stop them from eating them, but it will keep them from uprooting them.

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March 19, 20101 found this helpful

We have used cayenne pepper for most of the critters who visit us. It keeps the critters away and doesn't hurt the plants. Just sprinkle a generous amount around and see if that does it. Also works for deer.

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What do I do if the squirrels seem to like the pepper I've been putting down? I'm trying to get my coleus plants to thrive this year, and now that I realize squirrels have been digging holes in them and eating the roots. I know it's not me that killed them in the past. So, how do I keep them alive this time around? The goofy squirrels around me seem to like black pepper!

I didn't have red pepper so I used black over and over and over. It's weird, but they seem to actually like some of the coleus plants over the others (different colored ones). Any help would be welcome. I don't want to hurt them so the least invasive methods please.

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October 10, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

Here are a few things you can try.

  1. You will need to buy some cayenne pepper and sprinkle around the plant, soil and leaves. This will heat up their paws and they will stay away from the roots of your plants.
  2. There are some other home remedies that can be used to repel squirrels in your yard. You can try peppermint oil or vinegar. You would need to spray this on your plants and around your plants.
  3. If you are afraid to hurt them you can set up a food station for them in your yard. Give them some of their favorite foods to eat. They love sunflower seeds, peanuts and feed corn. Make a feeder for them in your yard and add these nuts and grain to the feeder. This will help keep them away from your plants.
  4. You can also try mulching your soil so the squirrels won't dig in your soil.
  5. A dog or cat is wonderful to scare them out of your yard.
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October 12, 20170 found this helpful
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Before you plant your bulbs in the hole that you have dug, line it with either chicken wire, small stones or foil, then plant and cover with dirt. Squirrels will not dig up your bulbs.

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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 Lynn Jump from Ocala, FL

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March 16, 20101 found this helpful

After you plant the seed put some hot pepper sauce on top of the soil,also hang some foil near them, keep the soil damp, keep a watch for them. I keep 2 cans near the door outside, when I see critters near my garden I beat the cans together, they run away. I also keep some twillers (looks like windmills)in my garden. They go around when the wind is blowing, good luck.

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March 17, 20101 found this helpful

Go to a hardware store and buy some chicken wire. Spread the wire over the area that has the seeds. Anchor the wire with some rocks. When the plants start to grow remove the wire.

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

I had the same problem last year, the squirrels kept eating them and I kept replanting. Then I used the chicken wire and anchored it with tent stakes. I shaped it into arches so the plants could get a little growth before I removed it. It's hard to tell but they are about 3 inches here. With some of the wire arches I bent the ends down and others I put big rocks on the end to keep the squirrels out. They will try their best to get in so you have to make sure it is secure.

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March 19, 20101 found this helpful

When squirrels ravaged my seeds and plants, I put cat hair in and on the ground, and attached some to the plants. It kept the squirrels away for a good while.

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

Dang squirrels! I have had the same problems! I planted 75 Gladiola bulbs and every one was dug up and eaten! My 75.00 market umbrella eaten, the 200 and something dollar gazebo on my deck had a skylight eaten out of the center! Tablecloth eaten! My Mom told me to do the chicken wire for the gladiolas & I think I remember hearing about sprinkling cayenne pepper? The damage that was done last year drove me to the point of trapping and relocating! In 2 months we relocated 21 of the little buggers! I am also told you have to go at least 10 miles away or they will come back!

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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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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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April 20, 2010

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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May 23, 2019

This week I've noticed holes that have been chewed or pecked in the sides of my outdoor plastic plant pots. Any ideas?


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August 24, 2016

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


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

By susan

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June 8, 2012

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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March 16, 2017

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

Close up of a squirrel.

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