squirrels digging in pots

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)May 23, 2009

I want to put some planters out along the walkway next to my garage. They are perfect for absorbing the drips that come off the roof, plus they look great. But last year when I did it I had to move them. The neighborhood squirrels kept digging and digging in them and tossing the dirt all around the walkway. I'm sure it's a handy dandy place for them to cache stuff, but I want to keep them out! Any ideas on what I can do? Since it is along a walkway, I want it to look aesthetically pleasing.

I would like to plant peppers and some marigolds in the pots.

I tried to use the search first on this question but couldn't get it to work.


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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

After planting, cut holes in Hardware Cloth, wire mess, and lay on top of the soil.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 11:23AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Thanks Petz! That was my first thought, but these planters were really planted full up last year, I'm thinking it will be difficult to get the wire mesh configured between the plants in any meaningful way. That's why I was so surprised that the squirrels dug up these planters, sinc there wasn't big areas of dirt showing. I don't think it was the dirt that attracted them, just the prominence of the planters.

I was contemplating making some kind of cage around the planters, but that wouldn't be aesthetic and would defeat the purpose. Maybe I should just plant these planters full up with herb and flower seeds this year, lay the hardware cloth on top of the dirt, and let the seedlings grow up between the holes. Anyone tried that?

Another thought I had was to anchor them UP off the ground, mounting them on the garage wall that the walkway abuts. But that would involve drilling into a brick wall and achoring some kind of studs, and I'm not too keen on taking on that kind of a project. The brick is old and not in the best shape.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 12:04PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

If you direct seed then use chicken wire rather the hardware cloth. Another thought, plant fewer plants they will fill in nicely in about three weeks.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 1:15PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Hmmm, what I have is hardware cloth to keep mice out of the compost. I guess the holes are too small for what I was talking about. The planters I do every year, they're planted just right to fill out but not crowd. They're just kinda small planters. The squirrels seem to leave them alone when they aren't right on that walk. But I really want to have planters there, since the water dripping off my garage roof is staining the pavers on the walkway. Might as well have flowers there instead of rust stains.

I also thought if maybe I made them taller somehow, the squirrels wouldn't bother. But since these planters are so small, I can't find a base for them. Their narrow size is perfect because that walkway is tight. Here's a picture of it. It's an old pic, the yard's quite different now, that' just after it was installed.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 3:57PM
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Do not know if it would work or could be hidden in your planters but cut some inch or so wide strips of the hardware cloth long enough to form a spring. Maybe a foot long? Wrap it arround a pipe or something to form a spiral. Try inserting into the basket so when the squirrels jump they land on the springy part of wire. You may need to use a florist pin or tie to anchor. The idea is to have the squirrel land on the wire and feel uncomfortable not to stay. You may need several in each pot. I saw something similar but attached to a wire to be put on street baskets.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 8:46PM
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I have the same problem. I've tried mulch, which helped, but not much. I did use lava rock around a potted hibiscus one year that they kept digging up, which worked well. Of course, that was next to a tree-like plant. I'm not sure how well it would work to put lava rock around flowers.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 11:58AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

It seems the freshly worked soil is a magnet to tree rats. If I keep the critters away for about two weeks, they tend to leave the pots alone after that. In addition to hardware cloth, I have had pretty good success by cutting up the floppy stems of my Artemisia 'Valerie Finnis' and spreading it like a thin mulch on the pots. The Artemisia seems to work at keeping rabbits away from my in-ground plants as well.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 3:29AM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

If the problem lasts only a couple of weeks, then make hardware cloth cages to use for that time. I remember reading, a while back, that squirrels are clever but have poor long term memory. The author speculated that was the reason squirrels dig in freshly disturbed soil looking for buried nuts. Seems like a possibility.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 9:35PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

The squirrels especially love my pine bark mulch. I sure wish the neighborhood hawks would get on the stick. Between the squirrels and the bunnies . . . AAAKKKK . . . my poor garden! Trying for both critter control and aesthetics is sure a challenge!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 5:00PM
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What about putting a low picket fence edger around the box for a few weeks. I saw some 1 foot tall ones at dollarama the other day

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 6:10PM
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Ahh, squirrels. I live in an old 'hood thick with giant Pin Oaks and equally thick with squirrels. Individually cut 'lips' or strips of hardware cloth/mesh (if planting seedlings) that sit just inside the container work, or put plastic mesh or critter netting (if planting seeds). But I didn't want to go to that much trouble, so I dug up a bulk container of cayenne pepper powder at the dollar store and just sprinkled some on, and just inside, the lip of each pot, and that did the trick, they left the containers alone after a week or two. Squirrels also learned to avoid my suet feeders because I buy the kind laced with hot pepper (they destroyed the unlaced cakes I bought at first). Downside is that you have to re-sprinkle some powder after each rain, but for a couple of bucks and not much work, it saved my containers. Works well for newly planted individual perennials in a bed too, but the pepper trick will not really work for a large garden of veggie seedlings, that requires bird netting all 'round.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:07PM
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I had that problem w/potted coleus last year. I put small stones, 2 to 3 inches, on the soil around the plants. Also had problem under the bay window with a cat thinking it was a litter box. Bigger stones. Sorry birds, no more dust baths there.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:48PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

A pack of plastic forks. Plunge a few in the pots with the tines sticking out about 1/2 inch.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 10:27AM
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