How to discourage squirrel-feeding neighbors?

nygardener(z6 New York)April 18, 2006

Just when I thought it was safe to climb back onto the balcony (er, fire escape) ... my neighbors upstairs love to put out peanuts, hazelnuts and the odd filbert for our grateful city squirrels, who promptly bury them in my planters, tossing aside soil and plants in their zeal to conceal their loot.

I've thought of something subtle, like giving them a $20 gift certificate to start a stamp collection and discover a new hobby. But this would no doubt be taken for the sarcastic expression of annoyance that it in fact is.

Any suggestions for how to gently persuade these neighbors (a youngish, not well-off couple) to please give my garden a break?

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Amino_X(z7b AR)

LOL! I just mentioned this in another Squirrel post. :)

Someone, I can't remember who, told me they saw something on TV that squirrels are allergic to Pepermint Plants and avoid it at all costs. You might try planting some fresh peppermint in your containers and see if that get's the squrrels to go bye-bye.

Best Wishes
Amino-X

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 9:56AM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

Get some poop that looks like it might be squirrl (rabbit might work) and sneak it onto their balcony in the middle of the night ;)

If you want to go the "nice" route, you might buy them some low-maintance plants, and give them to the people upstairs as a gift, telling them that you want to help brighten up their balcony. Then, the squirrls might just go for their planters instead of yours.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 12:01AM
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soil_lover

Maybe you could give the couple some plants as a good neighbor gift. Then perhaps the squirrels will bury their loot in their new garden.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 10:32AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Hmm ... that could be worth a try. Though they seem like the type who would kill any plant they put out.

Any other thoughts on how (or whether) to approach them?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:34PM
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vtchewbecca(z6b VA)

They probably don't know that the squirrels are digging in your pots. You could suggest they put out cracked corn instead of peanuts and such - squirrels don't bury this and its a WHOLE lot cheaper.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 11:54AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

That's a great idea! Is it sold in supermarkets or at pet stores? I also wonder whether attracting squirrels, even without giving them nuts to bury, would still cause them to dig around my planters -- or do they only do that when they have nuts to, um, squirrel away?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:31AM
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deandrathol(6b BC, CAN)

I have squirrels digging in my plants without anyone leaving out nuts.... the squirrels arent leaving anything in the pots just digging holes and tearing up the roots. I at first thought it was the neighbours kids messing around in the pots, but i caught a squirrel in them a few times now. I think its a good idea to try out the peppermint plants. Thats what I'm going to do now. thanks amino_x!!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 3:23PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Hmm. I've been looking for cracked corn, but in any case I think it will attract pigeons, who have become a bit of a problem in any case. I have a few planters of well-established, "indestructible" plants: spearmint, bee balm, and anise hyssop. Everything else is getting dug up.

Sigh.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 10:56PM
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marie_of_roumania(z6 MA)

my neighbor's just barely starting to talk to me again after i suggested that she switch to feeding poison peanuts to the squirrels.

she has, to her credit, switched to some kind of bird seed that attracts only about half as many verminous pigeons as the last variety of seed she used.

small victories.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 9:46PM
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beachplant(9b)

Sprinkle red pepper on the soil. You have to keep putting it on though. They can't stand it, that is what is added to some bird seeds.
The squirrel in my backyard eats my pecans and drops the shells and half eaten nuts onto the metal storage shed, scares the heck out of me when I'm in the garden!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 7:05PM
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pbchocban_yahoo_com

I think that if the "youngish not well-off couple" wants to feed them its their right.
So they dig in your pots...that is what squirrels do. Maybe you should mark the pots as your territory...
I am sick of people treating everything else that breads around them like vermin.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 7:25AM
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OUTofSPITE(NY6)

When I set out my bird feeders in the winter, I also supply the squirrels with peanuts.
I'm not thrilled with the 5 or 6 pigeons that show up but I'll live.
I have a problem with a stray cat that thinks the bird feeders are there to provide a buffet for HER.
The only way she can get in the yard is over the fence. At least the birds spot her right away & can escape to safety.
She started showing up BEFORE the birds. I have to go out at 6AM to shoo her away.

As for the squirrels - In order to keep them from digging in the pots with the perennials, I stick a bunch of wooden skewers in the pots. They are inexpensive & come 50-100 in a pack. It seems to work.

This year, I ended up with a couple of bonus plants, thanks to the squirrels.
Peanut plants! LOL!
They're nice plants with pretty yellow flowers.

Now I have "pegs". These grow out from where the floweres were.

They grow down into the soil and taa-dah! PEANUTS!
I doubt my growing season is long enough to actually get peanuts, but it's been fun to watch the process.

So when life gives you lemons - make lemonade.
When squirels dig in your pots, maybe you'll be lucky and get a free plant.
LOL!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:36PM
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vabreeze(z7VA)

What luck you have OOS! Your peanut plant is neat and looks so healthy. And the bloom is pretty. Now, I have to look for some raw peanuts to pot. :~D

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 6:34PM
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OUTofSPITE(NY6)

That's what surprised me the most about this whole thing. They weren't raw peanuts. They were roasted.
I never thought they would grow.

Lots of times I get the peanuts from the Wild Bird Center. They are packaged for wildlife. They are roasted but I'm wondering if the roasting process is different than for the peanuts packaged for human consumption.
Maybe they are roasted less - just enough so they won't spoil as quickly as raw ones might.
Or maybe a couple just fell through the cracks during the roasting process.

""shrugs>>

I have no idea. I don't eat peanuts. I only buy them for the birds & squirrels.
I have been here for 10 years and this is the first time I have had a peanut plant pop up.
I get lots of sunflowers though.
:o)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 7:03PM
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luna_llena_feliz

I like the little wooden stakes in the pots idea. I imagine they aren't too keen on getting a wooden stick up their keister! lol

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 7:28PM
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maricybele(8)

I have 2 stalks of corn in my grape area that I saw the squirrels bury. I think the dog hair I sprinkled around the garden worked well, the fox urine sprinkles worked for a while, they just laughed at the chili pepper and I grew lots of chili looking weeds. I think you have to switch it up a bit. The coyote urine sprinkles worked well for a while. I want to get some kind of tree barier to get keep them out of my tree. Does any one know of what works for the trees? Some say a piece of aluminum works.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 1:56AM
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mommymammal(z5NY)

I have had this very problem for years because I feed the birds (and squirrels and chipmunks...) on one end of my deck, and plant in containers on the other end. Here are the things that work best: (1) When I plant my containers in the Spring, I gather all sorts of flat rocks of different shapes and sizes and arrange them like tightly-fitting puzzle pieces all around the stems, completely covering all bare soil. As the plants grow, they hide the rocks (not that they look that bad, though!). This is the #1 most effective thing I've found, and discourages nearly all digging, even though most of the rocks aren't that big, and could easily be dislodged by the "tree rats." (2) Dried blood meal--the only substance I've found that they can't stand. Sprinkle liberally into containers, and reapply regularly. They laugh at fox urine, mothballs, etc. (3) The rock thing doesn't work well if you're direct-sowing seed into containers (which I do for some veggies). For those containers I recommend temporarily screening the top of the container with hardware cloth till the plants are large enough to be thinned and "rocked." My DH has constructed several types of screen covers for my containers. Hope some of this helps!!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 2:48PM
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aker(7)

How high up is their balcony? I went through this with my upstairs neighbour who would not take the hint!!! After loosing 100's of costly bulbs and cleaning up the mess in my garening and patio and balcony for 5 years. I tried everything to discourage the squirrels, nothing worked. So, I gave my neighbour a dose of what I was going through. I built a squirrel ladder!!!! The squirrels knew where the food was coming from. Within 24 hours my neighbour phoned to tell me " We have a problem. We have squirrels!" The squirrels now had access to her balcony and planters and were making a mess. She finally got the hint and stopped feeding them!!!

Just find a trellis or rope or something tall that they can climb up to get access to their place!! Nothing works faster ;-)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 3:01PM
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hsernulka(7)

HEY ANIMAL LOVER -- NYGARDENER DID NOT SAY SHE/HE WANTED TO HIDE WITH A PELLET GUN AND SHOOT THE SQUIRRELS, SHE WAS JUST EXPRESSING HER FRUSTRATION ABOUT THE SITUATION. IT IS VERY FRUSTRATING TO SPEND TIME AND MONEY ON PLANTS AND THEN THEY GET DESTROYED BECAUSE THE NEIGHBORS ARE FEEDING THE SQUIRRELS. YES, ALL LIVING CREATURES HAVE THE RIGHT TO EAT PEANUTS PEOPLE FEED THEM - NO ONE IS SUGGESTING THEY DON'T.

NYGARDENER -- THE ABOVE SUGGESTIONS WERE VERY HELPFUL. FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, I WOULD GO WITH THE DRIED BLOOD. JUST SPRINKLE IT IN YOUR CONTAINERS AROUND THE PLANTS. THERE ARE SOME ORGANIC, SAFE SQUIRREL REPELLENTS OUT THERE (PRIMARILY MADE WITH ROTTEN EGGS, SO THEY DO HAVE A SLIGHTLY UNPLEASANT ODOR), BUT THEY ARE FAIRLY PRICEY. THEY ALSO SELL A TYPE OF BARRIER RIBBON YOU COULD TRY TYING AROUND THE AREA OR EACH POT. I HAVE NOT TRIED IT YET MYSELF.

ALSO, THE NEIGHBORS ARE PROBABLY JUST NOT AWARE THAT THE SQUIRRELS ARE DOING THAT TO YOUR PLANTS. I LIKE THE IDEA OF BUYING THEM SOME CRACKED CORN INSTEAD AND GENTLY LETTING THEM KNOW YOUR REASONING BEHIND THE "GIFT."

GOOD LUCK!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 10:21AM
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aulani

I like the blood meal suggestion and plan to try it this very day in my patio pots where those little varmints have been wreaking havoc. They also steal my apples so I'd like to know how anyone keeps them out of trees. Someone suggested aluminum foil. Can you explain? I'd try anything. A neighbor was trapping them last year and carted them all off to nearby timber, but more settle in since nature always fills a void. It's a real problem and costly.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 10:43AM
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biceps15_yahoo_com

I have a pregnant, hungry squirrel that I thought was darned cute so I started throwing down a few nuts from my balcony (I'm on the 2nd floor). Soon, though, the great motivator of food had her finding a way to scramble up from the lower balcony to mine. I thought that was cute, too, so I fed her pistachios and cherries. If you want a squirrel that doesn't hide nuts in your planters, give them shelled pistachios - she eats them on the spot and seems to know that burying it won't keep it fresh for later. What was cute at first, though, ended up being a problem. Every time I opened the sliding balcony door, there she'd be. If we weren't home she'd climb all over the chairs and table and leave squirrel crap everywhere and a puddle of urine, as if marking her territory or complaining that we weren't there to feed her. One day the balcony was open and she came right in and pissed on the floor. Not good. Don't feed squirrels on your property if you want to avoid a chronic problem!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 11:00AM
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michaelise

We live in florida in an HOA community. We have a neighbor whose boyfriend we all the "animal whisperer" feeds the squirrels once sometimes twice a day. We now have rats, holes in our screen porches, holes in our landscaping and really BOLD squirrels. These squirrels have no fear they come up to my children like they are going to climb on them and it scares them. I am not the only pissed off neighbor. One neighbor asked him nicely to stop and now he sneaks out when she is not around. I work in front of the window towards the house and I see him everyday. Yes, several people have contacted the HOA and he has not stopped. I didn't mind when he did it once in a while but it is like everyday.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:24AM
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VGtar

Michaelise: Maybe you could get your neighbour a pet he could feed everyday, perhaps a hamster?
Or get a pet yourself, a cat or a dog breed, that likes to catch rats, and encourage it to do so (except in this case it would be towards squirrels).
But really, it sounds like he is doing it in spite. Could he have anything against his neighbours? -Perhaps the fact that by feeding some cut animals, he has become known as the animal whisperer? That's not really a very neighbourly. -Sometimes it just takes one person saying something a bit harshly to someone, and they turn to vengeance, especially, if they feel omitted from the community to begin with! If it is so, I advice you to move slowly. Invite him and his girlfriend over for a barbecue. Have fun and make him feel appreciated, and then the next time you see him, you could casually bring up the squirrel problem, without involving his part in the deal, while inviting him to a second Barbie, and then AFTER that spring on him that he might have something to do with the matter. That way, it wont seem to him that you JUST wanted to see him for the sake of getting rid of the squirrels, and you might actually gain a new friend in the process.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:12PM
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luko

I just move in a new house and I realized really fast that I had a squirrels problem. They were feeding in my garbage can. It's a plastic one and they even eat the lid to get in. So I decided to feed them with hazelnuts, so now the problem is almost solved. They stopped eating my garbage, and there's only one squirrel who keep coming, I think he marked my lawn as his territory. the problem is that I put the hazelnut on my balcony, since my garbage can is near of it too. I've been without any problem until I stopped feeding him. After he came 2-3 times to get his food and realized that there was none, he started to pee on my balcony. :( This little rats are really cute, but damn, they are a real problem too. Don't make the mistake though to replace them with pigeons by feeding them with corn, when I was in a apartment my neighbor fed the pigeons and let me tell you that this is a really big problem compared to squirrels. I even had a net to prevent them to come on my balcony, but even with that I ended up with pigeons crap on my windows and even on my balcony, (They were bombarding me). There was no pigeon when I move there and when I left they were 43. I tried everything even telling my neighbor to stop feeding them but nothing worked except moving out of that place. I cannot really tell you everything that I tried to get rid of them but as an example, I even tried to pepper spray them and guess what, they are pepper spray proof. Directly into their eyes and they were still starring at me.
So, even if the squirrels dug a little in your garden, it might be annoying but be sure that might be really worst by having flying rats (pigeons) instead. I posted a picture of my neighbor balcony to show you that squirrels are not a big deal compared to pigeons. So, a good advice, don't ask your neighbor to feed squirrels with something that could attract pigeons. This is a real nightmare.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 1:21PM
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knlim000(9a)

i put blackberry vine aorund it like a barricade on the pot. they stop digging afterward.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 2:46AM
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