It takes a lot of time and hard work to create the perfect garden in Lancaster, PA. So it can be frustrating to see squirrels and other pests undo all your work by digging at or eating your precious tomatoes and other plants. There are easy steps you can take to prevent these rodents from wreaking havoc on your property. Here is how to keep Lancaster squirrels from eating your plants:
1. Be vigilant for signs of activity
Pay attention to the damage and note any changes in your plants. There are several warning signs that squirrels – and not other animals – are responsible for the destruction. These include shallow holes, usually about the size of golf balls. Squirrels prefer to dig in freshly planted beds, so if you’ve just laid down seeds, you’ll need to protect them.
You might notice that there are bite marks on your tomatoes, or that your plants are missing their fruit entirely. Squirrels will often eat part of the tomato or cucumber, while other times they’ll steal the entire vegetable.
2. Avoid planting in containers
In addition to raised beds, squirrels like to dig in containers. If your flower pots are continually being disturbed, it’s likely a squirrel is trying to hide nuts or other foods in them. Bring your plants indoors as often as possible, and avoid planting in containers if other alternatives are available.
3. Remove garden debris
An easy way to keep squirrels out of your garden is to remove the temptations. Squirrels can’t resist the smell of fallen nuts and fruits. If you have this kind of debris littering the areas under your trees, rake it away as quickly as possible. Make sure all your trash can lids are secure, storing the bins indoors whenever possible.
4. Repel them using natural remedies
Natural repellents are inexpensive and low-risk options for keeping the squirrels at bay. Potential home remedies include capsaicin, peppermint oil, vinegar, and diatomaceous earth. The success rates of these treatments vary, but they’re worth a try if you’re struggling with a stubborn squirrel population.
5. Provide the rodents with alternatives
If the squirrels keep returning to your Lancaster garden, offer them tasty alternatives to your fruits and vegetables. Put treats like corn or sunflower seeds in an isolated corner, far away from the areas you want the squirrels to avoid. By creating a new feeding area for the squirrels, you may be able to deter them from your precious plants.
6. Scare them away for good
If you have a dog or cat, you likely don’t have squirrel problems. Most pets love chasing squirrels away. (They also enjoy catching them!) If you don’t have a pet, consider sprinkling predator urine or other scents among your plants. These don’t hurt your vegetation. You can also put up decoys like toy hawks or owls to scare squirrels away. Keep in mind, they may eventually catch on to the ruse.
7. Remove any temptations
Wherever possible, put cages or covers over your plants. Chicken wire and bird netting can be effective ways to keep squirrels out of the entire garden. You can also wrap tomatoes and other plants in small scraps of bird netting instead.
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