Squirrel-Proofing a Nursery

Our garden’s nursery has been used as a safe house for sprouting seeds until they are ready to be put into the earth. This nursery is a simple structure consisting of shelves where our seed trays and small pots are placed and walls of green netting to sooth the harsh sunlight as it enters. Unfortunately, the stapled green netting and Velcro, flapped door were no match for our worst enemies: squirrels and bunnies. These adorable pests managed to continually sneak in and consume the defenseless seeds. As we near the end of the winter season, we are making plans to get some seed sprouts going so that they will be ready to transplant into our beds by summertime. Before that can happen, we decided to squirrel-proof the nursery.

Lila in the basic structure after it's been covered in wire

We stripped the green netting off and removed the heavy shelving units leaving up only the bare wooden skeleton of the nursery. After taking some measurements we purchased rolls of chicken wire fencing (which Home Depot calls ‘poultry netting’) and set to work. We rolled the fencing up and over the structure, using a staple gun to secure it in place (1/2 inch long staples did the trick whereas 1/4 inch popped off too easily). Where the layers of fencing met, we meticulously cut into the wire on one side and tied it to the other. We made these stitches every few inches making sure every squirrel-sized gap was closed! Additionally we laid the fencing across the floor to ensure that squirrels and gophers would not be able to dig under the walls to come up inside. Then we covered the ground with sand to smooth over the fencing with a substance that will not turn to mud once we begin watering seeds inside the space.

We built a front door where there had previously just been a flap of green fabric. We used 2 x 4’s for the frame and a 2 x 3 for the diagonal crosspiece, which stretches from the upper corner on the hinged side to the bottom, far corner for support. We used three hinges to put the door in place and attached a latch to allow it to close securely.

Irrigation was the next step to ensure that any baby seeds planted on the shelves can be completely saturated. We installed ½ inch plastic tubing along the bottom of each shelf with misters pointing down to reach the shelf below. Each row has its own on/off valve.

After all this, the green fabric went back up with a staple gun as it was before in order to keep the moisture in and soften the sunlight. Due to the random, patched, green pieces we had available we now call it the Frankennursery, but at least it’s done!

Carly with our finished nursery

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