Let me guess: You finished your fall planting only to find squirrels digging up your bulbs and happily munching away the next day. Well, don't give up. Here are some pretty easy ways to stop squirrels from digging in your garden.
How to Stop Squirrels from Digging Up Your Bulbs
A popular way to keep squirrels from digging up bulbs is to use chicken wire as a physical barrier. For this, you just need to dig a hole (at the recommended planting depth), lay down the chicken wire, place your bulbs, then fold the chicken wire over the planted bulbs (creating a protective pocket, basically). Cover your protected bulbs and let them be until spring. When the shoots have developed a few inches, you can remove them from their wire haven and plant them as you normally would.
Squirrels are a lot of things: smart, abundant and, well, squirrelly. One thing they're not, however, is all that jazzed about having to dig too deeply for their chow. So, if you want to stop squirrels form digging up your bulbs, plant bulbs deeply (up to 12 inches down, if possible). While this obviously won't work with bulbs that have shallow planting depths (like crocus and freesia) it works well for many other types of bulbs. If you're going to go this route to keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs, be sure to choose a spot with good drainage (so that your bulbs don't rot).
Squirrels may be industrious but they're not stupid: They're not going to waste their time digging up bulbs that they don't like. So, instead of planting bulbs that taste or smell good, plant things like Frittilaria (which smells like fox), daffodils (which are poisonous to squirrels), and ornamental allium (which smells garlicky). By planting bulbs that squirrels won't want to dig up anyway, you won't have to do any extra work to keep squirrels out of your garden. Easy peazy.
It may sound strange but covering your freshly-planted bulbs with a heavy layer of fall leaves is a great way to keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs. The dense covering fools squirrels by hiding the sight and smell of the freshly-tilled ground. Plus, the leaves make a fantastic fall mulch.
How Not to Stop Squirrels From Digging Up Your Bulbs
Sure, having a gang of squirrels tearing up your garden bed and digging up your bulbs every time you plant can be frustrating, but try not to resort to inhumane tactics that are more likely to maim squirrels than discourage them. Using hot pepper won't stop squirrels from digging up your bulbs, it'll just damage their eyes (from rubbing). And, for Pete's sake, do not try to feed your way out of a squirrel problem. Feeding squirrels only invites more of them, and once you're out of food those hordes will descend on your garden for the bulb buffet you've so generously spread out for them.
How do you deal with squirrels in your garden? Have you had much luck keeping squirrels from digging up your bulbs?
(Images graciously provided by madmaven, jenssen, hofhauser and the la. Thanks!)