To Stop Squirrels from digging in your pots

familyman2004(z8 MS)April 14, 2011

I read somewhere that placing rocks on the soil around your plants in pots will stop squirrels from digging in them and it works. Most any large size gravel will do; I find the limestone rocks similiar to what is used on railroad tracks works very well. Try to get good coverage because if you leave any large gaps they will dig there.

This works so well and I have been adding so many large pots and planters that I am running out of rocks.

Hope this helps


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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hey, Family...

There are a couple of reasons why I would not want to try this for my containers. One is the heat issue. I would think that those rocks would heat up to excessive levels which would then be transferred to the root/soil system within the containers. Those light colored rocks would also reflect sun and heat back to the plant, which could be a problem in the summer. It gets so danged hot in the areas place seasonal plants that I just couldn't add to the plant's misery, lol.

I would also worry about that the rocks would slow down the normal evaporation from the surface of the medium. I mean, slow down a LOT.

Are these factors not an issue for you? 'Cause a lot of folks would sure like to try something that is effective! I use Cayenne pepper, myself.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 11:34AM
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familyman2004(z8 MS)

Hi Rhizo;

I also posted this on the Hosta forum and many there say they have been using rocks as well with good results. I know this solution is so simple and easy that there has to be a major downside it.

Your concerns are valid and well taken.
Let me address them:

*I really don't get all day full sun due to large trees nearby (hence the squirrel problem) most of my, what I call full sun containers are fairly large 3 gallons or more which I hope disperses the heat better. Hopefully by the time the weather really heats up the plants foliage has grown to the point that it provides some shade/ sun blocking and also reduces the reflected light/ heat.

* It is so hot where I am in the spring and summer that mulch is always a good thing. I dare say that if it were not for mulch I would not be the gardener I am today; not rock but organic mulch. For me anything that slows evaportion is a good thing because I use a very good draining potting medium so that I don't have to worry about slow evaporation in water logged container soils of course watering can become a chore.

For me the pros of using rock mulch in containers to reduce the damage caused by squirrel digging greatly out weighs the cons thus far and I have been using it for years.
Don't take my word for it give it a try in a few pots.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 4:53PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I DO take your word for it, Family! I'm not going to try it for myself, but it's on my list of things to suggest for others.

I might be willing to try it if my particular herd of squirrels and chipmunks all of a sudden decided that they likes cayenne pepper powder. I usually only have to apply it 2 or 3 times before they stop raising havoc in my containers.

Glad to hear that you are using a fast-draining potting medium! Do you make it yourself or have you found something ready made that does a good job for you? I used to make my own, but have gone back to a mix that just can't be beat (in my humble opinion). I confess that I am not one to find watering a chore. I was a bonsai aficionado for many years and one has to LOVE watering plants for that hobby to be successful, lol.

Best of luck to you and good riddance to your squirrels!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 11:05PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

This worked for me when I had this problem - get a pack of plastic forks & stick the handles in the dirt, with the tines sticking up just a bit.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:30PM
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familyman2004(z8 MS)


Some of my squirrel problems my have been blown over by yesterdays's tornado many of the giant oaks in my neighborhood were blown over. The one in my backyard that would have blown over onto my house was not Sheerly by dumb luck. Two weeks ago Lowes had stepping stones on sale I bought 114 of them with no idea what I was going to do with them and when I stacked them around one side of the base of the old oak tree just to have them out of the way lucky for me it was on the side in the direction from which the storm came. The stepping stones weigh over 20+ lbs. each you do the math.

I use a modified for the south / poorman's version of Al Tapla's 5-1-1 mix which is similar to your bonsai mix that I mix myself.

What is the brand of potting medium that you are using I would love to find something good already mixed????

I agree watering is also an art to be mastered if one is to be successful in containers my problem is that I have added so many additional containers each year that it is starting to get out of hand and with the hotter and drier summers we have been having. It is my fault I never met a flower pot I didn't like

I also will be getting alot more sun on my gardens this summer and I was just starting to really like Begonias and they seemed to like me. I guess roses my have to take their place. My tongue in cheek joke used to be if I ever wrote a gardening book it would be titled " Gardening in the shadow of a giant oak" LOL It has taken me 20+ years to figure out how to use the shade to my gardening advantage and how to deal with the root intrusion into my beds. In a matter of seconds four of them lay toppled like dominos.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 2:38AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Gosh, I am so very sorry about the trees. Having lived in coastal S. Carolina for many years, I fully understand what it's like to all of a sudden lose your sense of place when the big trees are blown down. It's a terrible shock to the system, big storms like this.

The worst of this system went to the South of us, but it sure did do great damage and destruction to many southern communities.

You'll have the sound of chain saws in your head for days to come.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 5:36AM
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