Evergreen Seeds

Squirrels are a common sight in many gardens across the UK, and while they can be charming visitors, they often cause frustration for gardeners by digging up and eating planted bulbs. My garden has been a victim of their foraging habits, and I have had to find ways to protect my tulips and daffodils from their persistent scavenging.

Squirrels dig up bulbs in a garden. A mesh wire is placed over the soil to prevent them from accessing the bulbs

I’ve come to learn that understanding the behavior of these agile creatures is key to outwitting them. They are particularly active during certain times of the year, especially autumn when they are preparing for winter by searching for food to store. This often leads to the unfortunate discovery of my freshly planted bulbs, which they mistake for a food stash. By adjusting planting times and employing a few clever strategies, I’ve managed to significantly reduce the damage these furry intruders cause in my garden.

Through trial, error, and some research, I have found various effective methods to protect my bulbs without causing harm to the wildlife. I use a combination of physical barriers, planting techniques, and deterrents to ensure that my effort in the garden doesn’t go to waste. Sharing these insights might help fellow gardeners enjoy the fruits of their labor – a vibrant garden come spring – without the worry of it being uprooted by our squirrelly friends.

💥 Quick Answer

To effectively stop squirrels from digging up bulbs, employ a combination of understanding their behavior, creating physical barriers, and using natural deterrents.

Effective Strategies to Stop Squirrels from Digging Up Bulbs

Squirrels can be persistent garden visitors, especially when they discover freshly planted bulbs. In my experience, applying specific tactics can safeguard your bulbs effectively.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior

Squirrels primarily dig for food and to create storage caches for their finds. They are particularly active during planting seasons, as the disturbed soil makes it easier for them to scavenge. Grey squirrels are common culprits in the UK, and while red squirrels also exhibit digging behavior, they are less commonly found in urban gardens. They are attracted to areas with plentiful food and will return to spots where they remember hiding nuts or finding food in the past.

Physical Barriers to Protect Your Bulbs

Chicken wire or metal mesh:
  • Place a layer over the soil after planting, securing the edges.
  • Remove when shoots begin to emerge, depending on the plant’s growth rate.


  • Position netting over bulbs until the risk of digging has passed.

Planters with a solid roof or hardware cloth:

  • For pots and raised beds, fit a secure lid to prevent access.

Natural Deterrents and Repellents

Employ natural deterrents that affect the taste or scent of the area to discourage squirrels.

💥 Natural deterrents:
  • Pepper: Sprinkle cayenne pepper or black pepper around the planting area.
  • Scented oils: Dab peppermint oil, garlic powder, or other strong scents near planted bulbs.
  • Coffee grounds: Sprinkle used coffee grounds as a mulch layer.
  • Meals: Bone meal or blood meal not only deter squirrels but also act as a natural fertilizer.

Frequent reapplication, especially after rain, is necessary to maintain efficacy. I’ve found these methods quite effective in deterring unwelcome visitors while also catering to the health of my garden.

The Role of Plant Choices in Squirrel-Proofing

Selecting the right plants and bulbs can serve as a natural deterrent against squirrels. Here, I’ll focus on plants that are less attractive to squirrels and the strategic use of companion planting.

Squirrel-Resistant Plants and Bulbs

In my experience, some plants tend to be naturally resistant to squirrel invasion. Squirrels often avoid certain types due to their taste, smell, or texture. Here are a few I’ve found most effective:

Alliums – With their pungent odor, these relatives of the onion family tend to repel squirrels.
Daffodils – Toxic to squirrels, they generally steer clear of these spring staples.
Fritillaria – Their distinctively unpleasant scent makes them unattractive to the pesky critters.
Hyacinths and Crocus – Though not completely resistant, they are typically less appealing than other bulbs.

Beneficial Companion Planting

Companion planting is a tactic I’ve used with success to protect my more vulnerable bulbs. Squirrels dislike the smell and taste of certain plants, making them perfect protectors:

💥 Garlic, onions, and chives: Planting these around your bulbs can act as a natural repellent.
💥 Marigolds and nasturtiums: Often used in vegetable gardens to deter pests, they can also protect spring bulbs.
💥 Leeks: Their strong scent can mask the smell of tempting bulbs.

Integrating these plants into your garden design enhances biodiversity and helps shield your bulbs from squirrels without the need for harmful chemicals or physical barriers.

Alternatives to Discourage Squirrel Activity

Squirrels can be quite the garden guests, persistent in their search for a snack. Here, I’ll discuss various strategies to protect your cherished bulbs without harming the furry intruders.

Adaptations in Gardening Practices

I find that adapting my gardening approach can significantly reduce squirrel disturbances. One such method is delaying planting until late in the season; by then, squirrels have usually finished their foraging. Mulching over the planted area with a thick layer of material such as wood chips or straw can also obscure the scent and presence of bulbs from squirrels.

Covering freshly planted areas with netting or a wire mesh is specially effective in allowing the plants to grow while keeping squirrels out. When it comes to compost, it’s better to use a closed bin rather than an open pile, as the latter can attract these and other pests.

Creating Squirrel-Friendly Distractions

I encourage creating designated feeding areas by placing squirrel feeders away from the bulbs. This provides an alternative food source, drawing their attention from the bulbs I wish to protect. Filling these feeders with squirrel favorites such as nuts or seeds can make them more appealing than digging in my garden.

In summary, being proactive and creative in making my garden less attractive to squirrels, while offering them alternative options, allows a harmonious coexistence with these energetic creatures.💚

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