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Squirrels vs. your spring bulbs: how to win the war

Crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils, tulips—the harbingers of spring. It’s almost time to plant bulbs so you’ll have a cheery display in spring 2016. There’s just one problem: pesky squirrels that think you’re providing delicious treats—and a fun game of hide-and-seek all at the same time. Here are a number of tricks you can try in your garden to avoid paying ridiculous amounts of money for squirrel food.

Plant bulbs deeply. Squirrels tend to give up if they have to dig too far. This explains why squirrels dig up most recently planted bulbs but tend to leave established bulbs alone.

Cover bulbs with chicken wire. Weigh down the chicken wire with bricks or stones. Remove the chicken wire in the very early spring, after the snow melts. Cover your tracks. Squirrels notice if the ground has been disturbed and tend to dig there. So, cover your tracks with compost, mulch, or shredded leaves.

Spread bloodmeal after you have planted bulbs. Mix it into the top inch or two of soil. Bloodmeal, which is dried cow’s blood, smells disgusting to squirrels. Of course, if the squirrel is ravenously hungry….

Spread cayenne pepper after you have planted bulbs. Re-apply after rain. Cayenne pepper burns the mouths of squirrels, and they stop digging.

Spread human hair after you have planted bulbs. Call your local hairdresser and have them set aside a bag of hair clippings from a day or two of cutting customers’ hair. Spread the hair over the planted bulbs and mix in lightly. Squirrels dislike the smell of hair. And after they get hair in their mouth that they cannot get rid of, they learn to stop digging in those spots.

Plant bulbs that squirrels don’t like. These include aliums, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and any type of daffodils. Unfortunately, tulip bulbs are a gourmet delight for squirrels.

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