How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Peach Tree
Cuddly little squirrels with their fluffy tails can be adorably cute. But squirrels running off with the fruits of your peach tree, squirrels digging in your flower boxes or squirrels chewing off rosebuds before they can bloom—not quite as cute. They can be destructive in the landscape and frequently make off with the goods before you can get them.
You will not be able to eradicate squirrels from your yard, but you can take some steps to keep squirrels out of your fruit trees, including your peach trees.
Controlling squirrels is, however, a never-ending, high-maintenance task. So weigh the value you'll get against the degree of work you're looking at, and make sure that saving a few peaches is worth the effort.
What Is Eating My Peaches?
If you're seeing a few squirrels in your yard, there are likely many more than that. Plus, they are prolific breeders, averaging two litters per year, each of which can produce two to eight babies. They live an average of five to 10 years but can live as long as 20 years.
The upshot is that if you are successful in keeping squirrels out of your fruit trees in one season, you will have to continue to wage this battle in the future.
Plus, they are veritable acrobats. Agile almost beyond belief, they can leap several feet between tree branches, scale any tree and balance on the slimmest of branches. They are very busy in your yard foraging for berries, nuts and fruits. They'll chew your tree bark and sharpen their teeth on the wood of your arbors or fences. They will even chew through your electric wires and short out transformers.
You can, however, try to wrest back control of your yard. Here's how:
Methods of Squirrel Control
To dissuade squirrels from foraging in your peach tree, or any other tree, your main goal is to make the tree less inviting or to make it inaccessible.
Create a Physical Barrier
To keep squirrels from climbing your tree, protect it with a barrier that squirrels cannot cross. One way is to build a 1-inch wire mesh fence around the tree. It should be at least 30 inches high and sunk into the ground at least 6 inches. Bend the top 6 inches at a 90° angle to keep the squirrels from scaling it.
You can purchase ready-made "fences" like these, which are called "baffles." These are cone-shaped metal sleeves that you install on a tree trunk or bird feeder pole at about 4 feet high. As acrobatic as they are, squirrels cannot climb up into these cones, then hang upside-down to get to the top of them and scale your tree.
If you can't find a baffle large enough to surround your tree trunk, you can make your own with thin pieces of sheet metal. Wrap them around the tree with the bottom edge flared outward.
Wrapping your tree with bird netting is unlikely to deter squirrels, because they will simply chew through the mesh.
The use of repellents such as hot pepper (capsaicin) or garlic can dissuade squirrels, but you will need to re-apply them regularly, so they are fairly high maintenance.
Add Tabasco or hot pepper to a gallon sprayer with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to help the mixture adhere; then spray it on the tree trunk.
Add Decoy Food Sources
You might decide to sacrifice some other fruit or nut in your yard to save your peaches from squirrels. Plant a nut tree nearby. You can also actually install a squirrel feeding station in your yard, but if you do that, put it as far away from your peach tree as possible. Maybe the squirrels will forget they have ever even tasted a peach.
Try Electronic Devices
Some commercial electronic devices are available that are designed to deter squirrels. The most common are those that emit ultrasonic soundwaves in frequencies that humans can't hear but that bother squirrels. You can also try scare tactics, such as making noise or squirting water.
I garden in the Pacific North west, previously Hawaii where I had an avocado orchard. I have a Master Gardeners certificate here in Eugene, Oregon.