pesky squirrels

Discussion in 'Maples' started by dawgie, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. dawgie

    dawgie Active Member 10 Years

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    Any tips from keeping squirrels out of out containerized Japanese maples? For some reason, squirrels keep digging in my pots lately -- particularly the smaller JMs that I planted this spring. There don't seem to be any acorns or other nuts around for them to be burying, and I certainly didn't put any acorns in the pots when I planted them. The squirrels are making quite a mess of my desk by scattering soil everywhere, and I'm also concerned that they could be damaging the roots of my trees. They haven't bothered the leaves or branches on my JMs but have eaten some of the succulent Jade plants that were also on my deck.
     
  2. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Topping the soil in the pots with river stone (or pea gravel?), 1/4" to 1/2" in diameter has been my saviour. I still occasionally get some digging but it's decreased from every day in every pot to only once a month for all the pots.
     
  3. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    I gave up on defending my Jade & keep it in our enclosed porch instead. Nothing ever worked, not even Ropel (no longer available in Canada), which was very effective at protecting my other plants.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Pine Martens?
     
  5. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have exactly the same problem but not with squirrels (European squirrels are shy and well behaved) but with blackbirds.
    After trying many things (including stones) I got the final inspiration from the coconut weed control discs that many nurseries use with their pots. In my case I chose a heavier jute based mat which, over here, is sold in rolls 1.5 m. wide. I cut out disks with the exact dimension of the pots and it is really a win-win solution (not for the blackbirds, though): keeps the birds away, controls weeds and retains moisture. The only drawback is that it decomposes rather quickly and has to be replaced every two years (coconut based disks last longer) You should give it a thought.

    Gomero
     
  6. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Ever considered the trusty 'ole shotgun?!? The first squirrel that touched one of my maples would wind up in a stew pot. We eat those critters here in the South! :D
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Not a good idea if the maples are in clay pots ;-)
     
  8. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Never been squirrel hunting, have you my friend? :D

    Very soon I may not have many squirrels left to worry about. A Red Tailed Hawk has discovered my bird feeder (which the squirrels raid constantly), and I'm sure Squirrel Sushi is on his menu!!
     
  9. kathrynit4

    kathrynit4 Member

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    I've got the digging problem with chipmonks... they are even eating my still green tomatoes, and begonias.
     
  10. kathrynit4

    kathrynit4 Member

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    Thanks for the ideas! I'll give them a try.
     
  11. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Besides the digging squirrels can get busy with the trunk and branches. I've had severe attacks here. They have girdled and sometimes eaten through 1" branches.

    Squirrel melts and Philly squirrel cheese steaks may not be better than transforming them into compost.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  12. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Yikes! You must have like "biker" squirrels or something! What kind of thug rodent would chew up a tree!? I'd be loadin' up ole' Betsy with some squirrel shot and warmin' up the stew pot! And to heck with the neighbors who griped!!!
     
  13. dawgie

    dawgie Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the tips. Will try some rocks for starters.
     
  14. blake

    blake Active Member 10 Years

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    I have this problem too. I should post a pic or two...severe is right. Pepper spray works but has to be re-applied more often than I can keep up with.

    As for digging, I'm experimenting with stainless wire mesh I bought at Home Depot. I cut a section to cover the soil surface inside the pot while leaving plenty of room around the trunk. I just place it on top of the mulch and sprinkle with a bit more mulch to hide it. It seems to be working. I've done this for my larger pots...it'd be a timing consuming exercise to apply in great volume.
     
  15. blake

    blake Active Member 10 Years

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    Speak for yourself. ;-)
     
  16. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    I am intrigued by this. Do you (or anybody) use the coco mats for your in ground plants as well:

    I assume you are talking about a product like this:

    http://www.groworganic.com/item_MM065_Coco_Fiber_Weed_Mat__36_Diameter.html

    I definitely have a squirrel problem, but I was hoping something like this might also decrease weeding time but even a bigger pain for me - erosion. Much of my lot is sloped. This is great for drainage but when I try to get a nice above ground mound going it can be difficult to keep the mulch and soil in one place and roots can get exposed. I must admit that I above ground water as well which doesn't help. I was even thinking about taking one of these coco baskets (see link below) and turning it upside down over the mound to keep in the dirt. Bad idea?

    http://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/RTProduct.asp?SKU=GAR-R583
     
  17. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    For some reason, our squirrels seem rather well behaved around here. They haven't yet caused any trouble whatever. And the deer are more reticent than anyplace else I've ever lived. The coyotes in the state park up the road might be keeping them in line, I think. (I can hear them howling as I type.)

    The pesky critter here is moose. To appreciate this you must understand that I live within earshot of U.S. Route 1, barely a quarter mile from the Atlantic coast. I mean, you'd think it would be all developed and de-wilded and such. But no. We've got these moose that wander up from a nearby salt marsh and have apparently discovered that my driveway makes a nice shortcut to the wetland out back. En route they like to pause for the occasional nibble, and a teeny moose-bite can pretty well decapitate a young tree.

    Thus far they've ignored the maples. Thus far.

    It's actually very cool having them around and there's nothing quite like glancing out your bedroom window to see a moose about eight feet away. I wonder how I'll feel, though, if Bullwinkle has got half my Purple Ghost in his belly.

    Kinda makes me think of the immortal words of Boris Badenov: "Keell moose and squir-rel."
     
  18. blake

    blake Active Member 10 Years

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    Here's a sampling of the destruction caused by maniacal squirrels in my neighborhood.

    Pic #1 (Seiryu): All damage was done Spring of this year. The pic is about an 8" section just about ground level. The gray discoloration to the bright green bark is the remnants of a paste I applied to protect the wounds.

    Pic #2 (Kiyohime): Damage was done a couple of months ago. The wound is about an inch tall. The smaller wound on the left branch was done this Spring.

    Perhaps I should get some cats.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Paxi,

    That's exactly what I mean, but, as I said, I buy rolls that I cut myself to the dimension I want (in addition it is much cheaper like this). I also use it in the ground with the same success.

    Gomero
     
  20. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Blake it is extremely challenging to control the damage in my experience. Only this year after 4 years of vigilant and aggressive 'measures' have the squirrels backed off.

    Not sure if it's like the 100th monkey thing or if the population is down or maybe more food around.
     
  21. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    Thanks, I looked at rolls and they are pretty economical by comparison. Do you then forgo mulch entirely (ie is the coco mat enough to get you thru winter?). If you do use mulch, do you put in on top of the mat?
     
  22. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Paxi,
    I use it in the ground very sparsely, in areas close to the terrace where the black birds dig and spread the soil. Since its main function is to deter the birds, it goes on top of everything including mulch which I continue to use.

    Gomero
     
  23. eq72521

    eq72521 Active Member

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    Blake,
    I have had a few rodents hit a few trunks last winter with all the snow.
    These critters will eat anything if they are hungry.
    trapping them in the snow seems difficult.
     
  24. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    I ended up getting the coco mats and so far am pleased.

    Benefits:

    1) Reduced squirrel/damage at the base
    2) Seems to help with erosion. I use an aqua spike to keep in in place (and also for deep wathering)
    3) mulch saver/ ?? better winter root protection
    4) aesthetically blends in well with surroundings. I have heard that weeds can easily pop up thru, but it does seems to have reduced this as well

    My main concern remains aeration. I put a small layer of mulch above and below. While some moisture retention is a good thing, I worry a bit about creating a "fungus sandwich" in terms of mold, root rot, etc. Any thoughts?
     
  25. dawgie

    dawgie Active Member 10 Years

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    BTW, I ended up putting small river rocks around the base of all of JMs in pots. They look nice and so far the squirrels have quit bothering the trees.
     

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