Gardening: How to protect crops and plants from birds and squirrels – tips and tricks

Alan Titchmarsh discusses the benefits of gardening in lockdown

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Birds and squirrels can cause a lot of damage to gardens including ruining flowerbeds and crops which can be extremely annoying for gardeners. However, there are many ways to protect the garden from animals safely by discouraging them. 

March is the perfect month to start sowing seeds and plants to help get the garden summer ready.

It is also the beginning of spring, the month where many autumn and winter planted seeds start to grow.

This means it is crucial to help protect the growing shrubs and crops from ruining the hard work.

While it is not possible to completely stop squirrels from entering a garden, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the damage they cause.

In fact, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) explained that it is “usually necessary to accept their presence or even appreciate their acrobatic antics”.

Although squirrels are natural diggers, they can be discouraged from ruining the garden by covering the soil around your plants with a layer of mulch.

Mulch is made from a variety of different materials and squirrels don’t like the feeling of it under their feet so tend to stay away from it.

Another way to protect fruits and shrubs is by using wire netting.

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Not only is this a permanent structure, squirrels can’t bite through the wire like they do with plastic.

The RHS added: “Netting can be placed over areas where bulbs and corms have been planted, to deter squirrels from digging them up.

“Alternatively groups of bulbs can be placed inside a planting basket designed for aquatic plants and the top covered with chicken wire.

“This can be sunk into the ground at the correct depth for the bulbs. Bulbs in pots can be protected with wire netting.

“Usually once bulbs have started growing, they become less attractive to squirrels and the barriers can be removed.”

Wire netting is also super affordable and can be bought from a number of retailers as well as garden centres. 

Another super easy way to deter the animal is to sprinkle spices around the plants. 

This will not only deter squirrels, but a huge number of other animals which like to graze on crops and seedlings.

Birds are another animal that can be responsible for a wide range of damage to the garden.

In spring they can destroy flowers, steal seeds and damage seedings when dust-bathing. 

Summer damage includes taking fruit and pecking holes in the grass.

Ideally, when growing fruit it should be done so in a fruit cafe that can be covered with netting when the weather gets colder. 

A cage can be costly, although can be used every year to help save money in the long run.

Netting can also be used on vegetables and fruit over low-growing plants which can help protect them from all kinds of birds. 

This should be secured with care though because animals like cats and birds can get trapped in them if not placed correctly. 

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