— Squirrels! What’s a gardener to do? A beautiful pot of pansies, geraniums or gerbera daisies, dug out and destroyed while you were at work.
We have a large, mature black walnut tree in our backyard. We have large, friendly gray squirrels living in our yard Ñ many large, grey squirrels. These friendly rodents hide walnuts and “look” for their nuts when it feels right. Unfortunately, they dig and destroy our flower pots. I have a tested-and-true solution: Wire your pots.
The supplies you need are inexpensive and readily available: A half-inch welded wire cloth, wire cutters, leather gloves, a magic marker and a measuring tape. The welded wire cloth is also called hardware cloth. It is sold by the roll at lumber stores or any big-box store that sells home building supplies.
The process is somewhat time consuming, but not complicated. The wired pot is worthwhile and reusable.
1) Measure the diameter of your pot or lay welded wire cloth over the pot and trace a circle. Make the circle about 1Ú4 - to 1Ú2 -inch smaller than the pot. This allows you to tightly position the wire in the pot.
2) Cut out the circle.
3) Determine the number of plants you plan to put in the pot and their placement. Trace squares in your wire circle and snip out the squares. Remember that plant roots can be squeezed and manipulated. For example, a 4.5-inch potted plant can be dropped into a 3-inch opening.
4) Fill your pot with soil and place wire circle over the pot.
5) Using a large spoon or scoop, dig out the soil to the depth necessary to insert the plant. Add the soil back around the plants to gain a level surface. Water thoroughly.
6) Set your pots in their permanent positions and relax.
The squirrels will try to dig in your pots and become very discouraged by the wire. Unable to dig, they will usually abandon your pot for easier digs.
Our little gray friends have also ravaged bulb beds including tulips, daffodils and gladioli. There is another a wire solution for this problem. Plant your bulbs in your flower bed and cover bed surface with chicken wire. Once again the wire will discourage and eliminate the digging.
My experience has been that chemicals and other “natural” products will not deter a persistent squirrel, Old fashion moth balls do work. The squirrels won’t go near them but unfortunately you can’t go near your plants due to the overwhelming smell.
There seems to be numerous opinions about why squirrels dig. The suggestion has been made that they are looking for food. Squirrels have a very keen sense of smell and usually find food using that sense. It seems that most gardeners would appreciate our gray “friends” if they shopped elsewhere.