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Tree squirrels may live in trees, but they often choose garden beds as their preferred place to forage for food. Strawberries attract these pests as the fruits begin to ripen. The squirrels raid the garden, stealing the berries before you have a chance to harvest them. The simplest method of protecting your strawberries works against all animal pests, not just squirrels. An exclusion method of protection also prevents birds and rabbits from wreaking havoc in your strawberry garden.
Install an 18-inch stake in each corner of the strawberry bed. Push the stake 6 inches into the soil to anchor it, leaving 12 inches above ground.
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Drape a sheet of 1-inch-wide metal mesh over the stakes. Tie the mesh to the top of the stakes with wire to hold it above the strawberry plants.
Bury the edges of the mesh 2 inches in the ground to anchor the bottom of the mesh so the squirrels can't climb under it. Alternatively, stack rocks on top the mesh where it overlaps the ground to anchor it in place.
Water the strawberries through the mesh. The mesh allows sunlight, water and air to reach the plants while excluding the squirrels.
Remove the mulch at harvest so you can reach the plant. If the berries do not ripen at the same time, remove the anchor on one side to gain access to the bed and re-anchor the mesh afterward to protect the remaining berries as they ripen.
Do not use plastic mesh or bird netting. Squirrels can chew through plastic.