Keep rodents and pests out of your garden containers

A few small additions in the beginning can go a long way.

potted plant

I potted up some lovely containers this summer filled with ornamental grasses, tomatoes, herbs and a variety of flowers. They’re absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the squirrels in my neighborhood dig them too—literally. What the heck are squirrels looking for in my pots? Nuts they buried last year? Or are they already burying nuts for next year? Whatever they’re doing, they uproot the plants, knock soil everywhere and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

I solved the problem by placing 1/2-in. metal hardware cloth just under the surface of the soil. It lets water and air in, but the squirrels can’t dig through it. I used tin snips and cut several pieces to fit around the plants in the container. (If you’re thinking ahead, you could cut it to the size of the container and cut holes for your plants before you’ve planted them.) I poked the sharp metal edges down into the soil and covered the hardware cloth with a little more soil and mulch.

It’s worked like a charm. I haven’t had a single squirrel dig in any of them since. Just make sure to use galvanized metal hardware cloth so it won’t rust immediately. You’ll be able to reuse it year after year.

— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

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