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Don’t Panic, It’s Organic: Malibu squirrels

Andy Lopez, Contributing Columnist/Invisible Gardener
6:37 pm PDT May 9, 2014

Reader question: 

Dear Andy,

What do I do about an invasion of ground squirrels?

They have made holes all over my lawn, they eat plants, flowers, basil, bird seed, etc. and are a complete nuisance.

I refuse to poison or shoot them which is the advice I usually get.

Do you have any tips?

Sincerely,

Dale

Dale,

A few years ago I was called in by a local homeowner and he said: ‘Andy, I have apricots and figs. Or, rather, I did have them, since there is a band of squirrels attacking them and hauling away all the fruit. Their leader is a giant of a squirrel which stands between me and his clan almost like he’s saying, ‘You have to get through me first!’ Seriously, I need help.

So, I know what it is that you are talking about and I will do my best.

You are right about not using poison, shooting them or harming them in any way. But what is there to do? 

I have tried many things throughout the years, but I will spare you the various mixtures I have made in my attempts to control them. The bottom line is, if you have the time and don’t mind spraying regularly — like twice a day during times when fruit is available — you can spray with garlic a barrier around the trees and the fruit itself. That will not only keep the squirrels away, but elephants, lions, tigers, dogs, cats and other animals, too.

It might attract garlic-lovers, though. 

Yes, the fruit will have a garlic taste. You can also plant garlic at base of trees to last longer. That can be a lot of work, but at least they will taste great.

First off, I would find out if the City allows you to feed the squirrels, as many cities do not. If they do, you can set up a squirrel feeder close to the edge of your property. Maybe if they are full they won’t be so eager to go after the fruit.

You can also build a cage that encloses your fruit trees, or get bird netting and throw it over your trees a few weeks before the fruit is ready to harvest. That will keep the squirrels and birds away and you can take it down afterward.

You can also hang bird tapes that are shiny on both sides. They tend to keep birds away, but work for squirrels too.

Sprinkle blood meal on the lawn and around the edge of the property once a month to keep the squirrels off.

Reader question: 

Dear Andy,

I have a question about rock dust. Where can I get it in Malibu?

Thanks,

Linda

Linda,

Malibu’s only hardware store carries a type of rock dust called gypsum. I usually buy this, along with several other types of rock dust and blend them together. But gypsum is a very good starting place. 

While I use a lot of rock dust on my customer’s places, I do not sell rock dust. If you want to know of the closest rock dust source in Southern California, email me and I will reply with his phone number. 

Beware: The delivery will sometimes cost more than the rock dust itself.

Email your gardening questions to Andy at andy@invisiblegardener.com and he will respond to them in his next article.