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Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes?

You bet they do! We love animals, and watching the squirrels interact and play in our woodland yard is enjoyable. But… we hate that they eat our tomatoes—and often a little bit of many of them—so we’ve been on a pursuit for how to keep squirrels out of the garden.

It’s not that we don’t want to share, mind you.

It’s just that we work all spring and summer to nurture tomatoes from seeds to seedlings to transplants, and constructed support systems. To then see a squirrel taking a few bites out of the most prized tomato specimens—often, days before harvest—that hits you where it hurts. And it’s not just about squirrels eating a tomato. No, it’s about squirrels taking a bite or two, tossing it aside and grabbing another prized, nearly ready tomato to take a few more bites. Oh man!!

The squirrels think our garden is their all-you-can-eat buffet.

They live in the trees all around us, and yep… our garden is their favorite local eatery. We’ve even tried leaving the an area of tomatoes right near the bottom of their favorite trees, but it seems they love the game of the hunting and gathering more than the easy handouts.

Our garden is reminiscent of cities where people live in the upper apartments and the restaurants and eateries are right below them. Our garden is their “eatery”. Very convenient for the squirrels. A problem for us.

 

Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

We’ve tried a number of solutions, but most have come up short, and even the best need some reinforcement. But with all of these things together, we do end up with the bulk of our harvest. So sharing here our best solutions for how to keep squirrels out of the garden.

 

Motion Activated Sprinkler System

scarecrow sprinkler system
Motion activated sprinklers work well in deterring squirrels and other creatures – image by GardensAll

Sometimes called a “Scarecrow Sprinkler”, these are our best solution for squirrel repellent. These sensor sprinklers also deter other critters, such as birds, rabbits, cats, dogs and deer. We had two of the Hoont Motion Activated Sprinkler Systems, and they’ve worked really well.

This year we added another Hoont, but it was defective, so we returned it and upgraded to an Orbit Motion Activated Sprinkler. Our other two Hoonts’ are working fine, and we’re also really liking the Orbit.

motion sensor sprinkler
Orbit motion activated sprinkler system is an effective squirrel repellent. – Image by GardensAll

Another Squirrel Repellent that Works

So the sprinklers work. That said, we want to make extra certain that no squirrels find a way into our tomatoes. We have actually seen them trigger the sprinkler, dodge back while it activates and then when, there’s a five second pause, they dash to another point of cover. Eventually, they make it to the tomato patch.  Clever little varmints!

Our “lower garden” especially, is so close to the trees, that the squirrels are emboldened to dash and grab a meal knowing there’s cover nearby. Our “upper garden” only has one water scarecrow and a lot of ground for an interloper to cover before reaching the garden. So our new Orbit sprinkler will be placed to strategically take care of a “back door” alley that was missed by the two we already have. But… we’re taking it to the next level.

Squirrel Proof Garden

To be certain no squirrels find a way to our tomatoes before we do, we’ve added an extra measure of protection.

The issue with making a cage is keeping the varmints out while still allowing easy access. We already had the cattle panels, which were used last year as tomato supports. We also had a bunch of 1″ PVC pipe from when our well pump was replaced. Also on hand was a leftover roll of chicken wire and  several lengths of concrete reinforcement wire. After some preliminary trials (and errors) we designed what you see in the video: the top cover using arched reinforcement wire with a covering of chicken fencing and a roll down screen for the sides. The plastic chicken fencing is more flexible and far easier to roll.

And we’re still in “tweak mode” but confident this will be the best “squirrel proof” system yet. Can’t wait for the test-runs! Okay Scrappy the Squirrel: we’re ready for you now, buddy! 😉

 

Happy Harvests!

 

You bet they do! We love animals, and watching the squirrels interact and play in our woodland yard is enjoyable. But... we hate that they eat our tomatoes—and often a little bit of many of them—so we've been on a pursuit for how to keep squirrels out of the garden.


Coleman Alderson

G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson

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