The Q&A Archives: Squirrels and Rabbits Eating Plants

Question: How can I stop the squirrels and rabbits from killing and eating everything I plant. In front yard cannot use the little fencing. The spray last season did not work. Help!

Answer: Actually, the only tried and true method to keep critters at bay is to fence plants, but you said you can't do this. Chicken wire "blends" in and isn't very noticeable. If you can leave it up for several months until small plants establish root systems and develop some size, fencing can then be removed. Critters may eat some, but often not enough to do permanent damage. They seem to adapt to human strategies fairly well. Try to vary some of them over a period of time, which seems to help keep the animals at bay. Cover the soil around planting beds with sheets of 1-2 inch diameter wire mesh. Squirrels don't like to walk on it. You can also try pruning trees so the lowest branches are at least 6 feet above ground and placing 2 foot wide metal bands around the tree trunks, positioning them so the bottom of each band is at least 2 feet off the ground. This will discourage squirrels from taking up residence in your yard. Squirrels and rabbits can be repelled by a number of home remedies including cayenne pepper mixed with garlic and sprayed around the lawn or blood meal sprinkled on plants. A good dog or cat provides defense, but sometimes just the presence of pet hair around the garden is enough. Obtain dog or cat hair from a groomer if you don't have a pet. Finally, there are lists of "resistant" plants animals are less likely to eat, but if they are hungry, anything is fair game. You didn't fill in the state where you garden, so it's difficult to recommend specific plants, but you can search on our database for ideas, or send another email with your locale. Good luck!

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