Who hired YOU to trim my tree?


For the second year in a row, my cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia ) is being tip-pruned without my authorization. Every morning I sweep up the patio under the tree (I’ve got to keep things looking good for potential buyers), but only an hour or so later I see that the patio is littered with small twigs and leaves again.


The ends of the twigs look as if they’ve been chewed. Hmm, who is the culprit?


You’re busted, squirrel! You and all your buddies have been trimming my tree without the proper authorization. Don’t give me that look. I caught you red-pawed.


See? Here you are dangling by your hind feet, reaching for a twig to gnaw on. Yeah, I caught you and your delinquent buddies doing acrobatics in the tree yesterday morning, chewing and tossing. What’s more, looking out the window as I type this, I see that you’re at it again.


I insist you stop making a mess this instant!


What? You say these cedar elm seeds are tasty and you’re storing up for winter? Oh. Well, I guess the tree can spare a few twigs here and there. Go ahead, I don’t want you to starve.

But could you please sweep up after yourselves?

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

29 Responses

  1. Like errant children, we are always picking up after them ‘eh Pam?~~Dee

    It just never ends. But like children, this squirrel was cute enough and curious enough to make me smile and forgive. —Pam

  2. A perfect, smile making post!

    And the best picture of a squirrel I’ve ever seen.

    Lucy
    PICTURES JUST PICTURES

    Thanks, Lucy. This squirrel was not very shy. When I went out to investigate what was happening in the tree, I made sure not to stare up into the tree but to use my camera’s tilting viewfinder to look. The squirrel became very curious about what I was doing, and he came down into the crook of the tree to look. That’s when I snapped this shot. —Pam

  3. wildenside says:

    Great detective work! They love to get in our Butia palms (Butia capitata) when they fruit and dine for days. What a mess. Their leftovers get stuck in the cups of all my bromeliads. Nothing like the smell of rotting Butia palm fruit. Super pics.

    Mmm, rotting palm fruit. So I guess the cedar elm situation could be worse, eh? ;-) Thanks for visiting, Wildenside. —Pam

  4. They can run across my roof and play tag in the trees, but wish they would please stop eating the birdseed!! It drives me crazy! :)

    They seem to enjoy driving us crazy, don’t they? —Pam

  5. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, just when you are trying your best to keep things neat, too. You are way more forgiving than I would be. I didn’t realize squirrels are tree tips, is it that special kind of tree or a lack of nuts and fruits? Great pix but no smiles for the little vandals here.

    There are plenty of pecan trees in the neighborhood, Frances, and lots of berrying plants in my garden. But I guess the fall-flowering cedar elm is a tasty seed bar. —Pam

  6. shirl says:

    Oh Pam… what timing! Perhaps they are trying to tell you something like they don’t want you to leave so they are trying to put potential buyers off. Mm.. Great photos :-D

    Oh, I hope they won’t resort to sabotage, Shirl. I might have to get stern with them. —Pam

  7. Nancy Bond says:

    They are destructive little critters! :)

    Aren’t they? But cute nonetheless. —Pam

  8. Bonnie says:

    Free tree trimming? Those are the kinds of squirrels I want around.

    Bonnie, for heavy limb cutting, they’ll charge you extra. But they offer a very good rate for twig work. —Pam

  9. Jenny says:

    Oh, how funny. Maybe they are the guilty party who left the pile of cantaloupe seeds at my back door. Each one with the seed germ removed.

    You don’t think it was the foxes, Jenny? Now that’s a real wildlife visitor that you have. —Pam

  10. Lola says:

    Good pic. I didn’t know either that they ate the twigs. Is it just this particular tree?

    They like the cedar elm seeds, Lola. I don’t know if they’re actually dining on twigs or if they’re just chewing them off in order to get to the seeds. —Pam

  11. Gail says:

    What a fun post, having had bad experiences with the city trimmers I was sure it was going to be a battle of monumental proportions! I liked this so much better!

    They are too cute to get mad at, Gail. But I suppose if they began to damage the tree I would feel differently. —Pam

  12. Chris says:

    A good slingshot and a bucket of pecans would solve this problem…

    I think they’d be safe enough, considering my skill with a slingshot, Chris. I see which way you lean though. ;-) —Pam

  13. I sure hope they don’t think they are getting paid for “trimming” those trees! What a mess they are leaving! That is just not acceptable. You need to turn them into the Better Business Bureau.

    They’re taking their pay in seeds, Carol. But I will have to give them a negative customer review if they don’t start cleaning up after themselves. —Pam

  14. Cindy says:

    Cheeky little buggers, aren’t they? That is a great close-up … you can see the inquisitive look in its eye!

    Very cheeky. And very inquisitive! —Pam

  15. Squirrels will eat anything.

    So I see. As Cindy said—cheeky! —Pam

  16. Robin says:

    I didn’t know squirrels would eat the branches. They do make quite a mess with your tree. That is a great shot of the squirrel!

    They’re chewing them, but I don’t know if they’re eating them, Robin. I think they’re after the seeds, and the twigs are collateral damage. —Pam

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yes, those cute furry little beasts can be such pests. What a mess.

    Ah well. The seeds won’t last forever, and then the mischief-makers will move on to someone else’s yard. —Pam

  18. wiseacre says:

    What a great photo of the mess maker. I didn’t know squirrels had evil grins.

    Our squirrels keep away from the house. Something about 6 cats and a dog who hates squirrels encroaching on her territory. She sits by the window watching for trespassers and goes ‘nuts’ when one dares to step on the ground. I then have to let her out so she can go bark up the wrong tree.

    We used to have a vigilant fox terrier who kept those squirrels on the run. But she passed on to dog heaven a couple of years ago, and the squirrels have gotten a little too comfortable since then. —Pam

  19. ShySusan says:

    I love this post. But it makes me VERY glad we don’t have squirrels around here.

    I can’t imagine not having squirrels. Where are you from, ShySusan? —Pam

  20. carolyngail says:

    Time for some good ole’ Brunswick stew ( take 1 squirrel, 1 rabbit … :)
    I saw one making off with one of my Asian pears the other day. Time to get out the net again.

    Oh my. Are they tasty, Carolyn Gail? Now cedar elm seeds are one thing that I can live without. But your Asian pears? That’s just wrong. I hope you can foil them. —Pam

  21. Hi, Pam, You are not alone. I’m having the same conversation with squirrels who are delighted my English walnut tree is full of green walnuts. They make a huge mess every morning! Cheeky, indeed!

    Those stinkers. Do you try to foil them, Kathryn, or just let them be? —Pam

  22. Jenny says:

    Naughty little squirrels! I didn’t realize they ate the seeds on the Cedar Elms–I am so glad because most of them seed themselves in my flower beds!

    I am looking forward to hearing about your move when the time comes, as well as how you approach your new garden. I think you will like NW Austin–I sure did, but moved further north to R.R.–the city keeps following us though! LOL!

    Yes, Austin’s arms have definitely reached out to hug its neighbor Round Rock. Our next house will be our third in Austin and the first one on the west (hilly and rocky) side of town. It will be a new gardening experience for me. —Pam

  23. I knew they made a mess out of live oak and pecan trees – but had no idea squirrels had such love for cedar elms! Great pics!

    They’re just busy little creatures, aren’t they? But cute nonetheless. —Pam

  24. Great photos – I have real problems with squirrels in my garden eating the food I put out for the birds – I think I have finally won though I hang the feeders on long wires and put an old 2 litre drinks bottle between the feeder and the tree. Its Ok at the moment but when the leaves fall in autumn I think my neighbours may think I’m mad having bottles hanging from the tree.

    You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to foil those squirrels, right? It sounds like a creative solution to me. —Pam

  25. Karen says:

    Well, their tails would make great brooms, if only they’d put them to use!
    - Karen
    http://greenwalks.wordpress.com

    Oh, I wish I’d thought to say that! Thanks for stopping by, Karen. —Pam

  26. I feel so much better knowing I’m not alone suffering from the squirrel follies. They do that to my crabapple tree when they can’t reach the fruit at the ends of the branch. I’ve had it with that. This year I’m fighting back. I’m going to pull off the crabapples at the ends. They aren’t cute anymore. One of them is even not afraid of me. I must have been too soft on them this year.

    Can you still call your garden Squirrelhaven when you’re fighting back against them, MMD? ;-) You may have to change the name. —Pam

  27. KellyinTexas says:

    Oh my goodness, I’m having the SAME exact thing happen with my Cedar Elm, that is pleasant most of the year. I get the deck swept off, the chairs and cushions brushed off, and the squirrels are having a hayday all over again. Such a mess.

    The mess has finally ended here in my garden, Kelly. I guess the squirrels have eaten all the seeds. I hope they polish yours off soon so you can stop with the constant sweeping. —Pam

  28. We are lucky not to have these grey squirels in France. Ours are red. I have got some in my garden because I have a walnut tree but they do not do any damage and they are very wild. I appreciated reading your post. It is fun to be able to have a look at other gardens so far away with just a click.

    Thanks for saying hello, Claude. I just visited your garden, thanks to the Internet, and you have a lot of lovely flowers and beautiful fall foliage. A fun visit indeed. —Pam

  29. CLINT REYNOLDS says:

    I THOUGHT READING ALL THIS SSTUFF WAS VERY INTERESTING, I DID NOT KNOW SQUIRLS LIKED CEDAR ELMMS. BUT IVE GOT A QUESTION. I HAVE A PECAN AND IT COMES OUT HEALTHY WITH GREAT GROWTH. THE TREE IS ABOUT 30YRS OLD. AND ON SOME OF THE LIMBS THERE ARE SIGNS WERE THE BARK HAS BEEN TORN AND THE LIMB DIES ALL OF A SUDDEN. IS THAT FOM SQUIRLLS EATING THE BARK?