Every year we put a pair of Boxwoods in pots on our deck. In the early years, I used our shredded leaf mulch to top off the pots — which the squirrels loved. A few years ago I got the idea to "mulch" the pots with our collection of stones that we've gathered on vacation and various hikes. Using them in that fashion made it seem less crazy that we owned boxes of rocks!
This year I decided to try mulching the pots with pine cones, an idea I admit I saw on Pinterest. I put down a layer of leaf mulch and then topped it off with pine cones I'd picked up all over the garden during spring clean-up. They are mainly from Austrian and white pines. The first day the squirrels tossed a number of the cones about. Then they displaced one cone per pot for a couple of days and now they seem to have lost interest. And using a different "mulch" has piqued my interest, since it gives our traditional deck pots a new look at no expense.