How to Grow: Controlling Chipmunks & Squirrels

Learn about the best ways to control chipmunks and squirrels in your garden.

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Do you remember CChipmunk, Animal, Sunflower, Seeds, Eating, Nourishmenthip and Dale and the Chipmunks? Well, those characters are the warm, fuzzy versions of these real life squirrel family pests. If you’re a gardener you know that chipmunks and squirrels can be a pain in the bulb. These rodents aren’t picky eaters. I’ve seen them eat tomatoes, roses, tulip bulbs, plums and many other plants. This year’s warm winter and dry summer has really spurred them to venture into the garden looking for food and water.

So, let’s do a basic chipmunk and squirrel control 101. The first, and probably the most effective step, is changing habitat to discourage them. Move wood, debris, and rock piles away from the garden. Chippies love to hide in those places. I wouldn’t go as far as moving a stone wall, but hey, if you’re desperate? Keep lawns and brushy areas mowed. Plant trees away from buildings and other trees where squirrels can jump onto them and use baffles to stop them from climbing up the trunk.

Even if you can keep the squirrels off your bird feeders, the seeds that drop to the ground are an great attraction to these critters. Keep those seeds cleaned up regularly. Rotate the use of 2 to 3 different repellents sprays on favorite plants so they don’t get used to any one scent. Apply them early in the season, before there’s something good to eat and reapply regularly. Try sprays with active ingredients such as garlic, hot pepper, rotten eggs, castor oil and slaughterhouse waste. Cover prized fruits and tomatoes with bags to stop thieving squirrels.

Don’t live trap and relocate your rodents. It’s illegal and relocation is actually cruel to the animal. They get disoriented in their new home and few survive.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.

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