Squirrels are amusing and entertaining to watch. They're handsome, too. But they can create problems: They dig up perennials as they hunt for acorns hidden in the mulch. They knock over potted plants. They consume the expensive bird feed you bought to attract cardinals and goldfinches to your yard. They gnaw holes in houses to get into attics so they can build nests with your attic insulation.Skip to next paragraph
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If the squirrels in your yard have become troublesome, how do you deter them? The Evergreen [Colo.] Animal Protective League suggests that you start by thinking about eliminating the things that attract the squirrels in the first place:
Well, if you're a gardener, you can see that it's going to be impossible to eliminate most of the items on that list. No deciduous trees? No flowers? Impossible.
– To prevent digging, lay down chicken wire and allow plants to grow through it.
– For bulbs, spread a layer of cayenne pepper powder over them.
– Place ammonia-soaked rags in spots where you've spotted squirrels.
To prevent digging, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif., recommends putting smooth river rocks (available at building supply companies) on top of the soil.
Keeping squirrels out of fruit and nut trees isn't easy, notes the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:
Tall fruit and nut trees can be protected by trimming away lower branches that come within six feet of the ground and then placing an 18-inch long sheet metal cylinder around the trunk. The top of the cylinder should be about four and one-half feet above the ground. Groves of dwarf trees can be protected by an electric fence of the type used for livestock. Place three or four strands at 4-inch intervals on metal, not wooden, stakes.