Squirrels can sometimes be thought of as cute little creatures that run around gathering nuts. However, these mischievous rodents can be a complete nuisance in your backyard, garden, or attic. They are also known for destroying plants and digging through your gardening bed. In this article, we will look at how to keep squirrels out of your garden in the safest way possible for all parties.
Identifying Squirrel Damage in the Garden
- Soil Disruption – The first sign of finding squirrels in your garden is noticing tracks or movement of the dirt or mulch in your garden bed. There are few different animals that dig and can cause that kind of damage, like chipmunks or gophers, so it is essential to identify what animal it is. Most rodents are bothered by the same types of repellents, so if none of the below options work, you should identify the exact animal causing the issue.
- Missing Crops – The reason that squirrels are in your garden in the first place is that they are probably looking for some food. Squirrels can eat most things in a garden, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and even plants’ leaves.
- Bulb Damage – Squirrels love digging up bulbs that are waiting for the next season to blossom. It could be that they want to dig up the bulb or create a hiding spot for food they have already gathered.
- Bird Feeder – Squirrels are notorious for gathering seeds from bird feeders. If you haven’t taken the time to squirrel-proof your bird feeder, they will continue to come back repeatedly.
The first step to keeping squirrels out of your garden is to use squirrel repellent. These can be natural scents and odors, chemicals, or other deterrent options like motion activated sprinklers or fake predators.
The top method for squirrel repellent is sprays. Sprays are a perfectly humane and ethical way to repel squirrels safely. They contain some odors that rodents do not like, including castor oil, peppermint, or predator urine. Our top choice for squirrel repellent spray is the I Must Garden Squirrel Repellent, seen in the product box above.
This repellent is a perfect option to eliminate squirrels in your garden. It is an all-natural formula with proprietary blended essential oils that repel squirrels by smell and taste for maximum effectiveness against those pesky critters!
- 1.25% Garlic
- 0.94% Castor Oil
- 0.47% Lemongrass Oil
- 0.31% White Pepper
- 0.23% Clove Oil
- 0.23% Cedarwood Oil
The product doesn’t harm the environment and doesn’t feature unpleasant scents, like in the case with most commercial products on today’s market. You can buy a spray of 1 gal or 32 oz.
Another method for keeping squirrels out of your garden is using electronic devices. Electronic repellents emit ultrasound waves in non-repetitive pitches and patterns once the device is turned on. These ultrasonic sounds are produced at a high frequency that is geared toward the ears of rodents.
Electronic repellents to keep squirrels out of your garden are the safest choice. No chemicals are involved; they can also keep away other animals like deer, mice, and skunks. One of the only drawbacks is that it can damage your cat or dog if you have a pet. If you have a pet, be sure to look at devices above the frequency in which pets can hear.
There are several different natural repellents that you can try, which have all been proven effective in keeping squirrels away from the garden.
Most rodents, including squirrels, hate the taste and odor of peppers. You can sprinkle cayenne pepper, ground chili peppers, or pepper flakes around your garden or individual plants that seem to be disturbed. If you are having trouble with squirrels on your bird feeder, cayenne pepper can also be used in bird seed because birds cannot taste capsaicin.
Note: Squirrels can pepper on their paws and irritate their eyes, just like humans. It can cause pain and even temporary blindness.
Peppermint oil is safe for pets and family members (both indoors and outdoors), so you can use it without worry. Pour some into a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar and spray around your plants.
Squirrels have a better sense of smell than humans and are biologically programmed to avoid predators. By spraying predator urine, such as FoxPee, it indicates to the squirrel that a fox is around and they should avoid that area. By marking an area with Fox Pee, you duplicate the territorial marking habits of foxes in the wild. This illusion triggers an automatic response in the squirrel. If fox scent is around, squirrels want to be far away.
If you are interested in adding to your garden, you can look at a few flowers that naturally repel squirrels. These include daffodils, snowdrops, marigolds, hyacinths, and nasturtiums. Be sure to avoid bulb flowers, as those can attract squirrels.
Other Squirrel Repellents
If none of the options above are working to help keep squirrels out of your garden, you still have a few more options before poison or calling a professional comes into play.
Motion Detecting Sprinklers
As the name suggests, these sprinklers turn on after detecting any movement. Add these in one or two locations around your garden to deter squirrels from entering. Not only will the sudden movement scare squirrels away, but water blasting them in the face will also do the trick.
Similar to the predator urine mentioned above, just the sight of a predator can be enough to scare a squirrel away. One of their other natural predators is the owl. Using a fake owl is a common technique to scare off other birds and can also be used to deter squirrels from your yard and garden.
Calling Professional Help
If you have a large infestation of squirrels or none of the methods above seem to be working, it is time to call in a professional. Professional exterminators know all the tricks and techniques for getting rid of the pesky rodents you are dealing with. They also know what has worked in areas local to you. Calling an exterminator is usually the most expensive option on this list, but also the most effective.
One of the last methods you should try is poisoning the squirrels. This should be the last method attempted for a couple of reasons.
- Legality – It might be illegal to kill squirrels in your area. Before you do, be sure to check your local and state laws regarding the use of poison.
- Disposal – Let’s say the poison that you used worked and killed the squirrel(s). Now what? You have to get rid of a squirrel carcass carrying different diseases and attracting flies or other insects.
- Unintended Harm – Poison can be eaten by pets or other wildlife you never intended to harm. Pesky squirrels probably aren’t causing enough damage to make you risk causing illness or death to a beloved pet.
Other Options to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden
Now that we have gone over the main repellent methods to keep squirrels out of your garden, it is time to take a look at some options to change the garden. For example, you can protect individual plants, the entire garden with pre-made products, or some DIY project.
Protecting Individual Plants
If you are looking to protect an individual plant or several already in pots, you have two options. The first is a mesh enclosure that can vary in size anywhere from 2 feet to about 3 feet wide. These are inexpensive and do a great job of removing a barrier between plants and rodents. However, if the squirrels are particularly aggressive, the mesh isn’t going to do much to stop them.
Your other option for individual plants is a metal cage placed on top of a pot or the ground. These metal cages are probably the worse of the two options. They are expensive and can be moved or dug under relatively easily.
Protecting the Entire Garden
Another way to keep squirrels out of your garden is to enclose it completely. Several products available can cover large sections of the garden without you having to put anything together.
Because gardens come in all different shapes and sizes, your best option for protecting the entire garden is some DIY method. This is one of the cheaper options, but it will take some work and planning from you. One of the more straightforward solutions is just to put posts around the garden and netting around those posts. Of course, with some planning and measuring, you can transform the garden and make it look a little more aesthetically pleasing.
Hopefully, you have learned some methods to keep squirrels out of your garden. These pesky creatures can be annoying and harmful to your plants and flowers, but there are some simple ways to stop them. We have gone over all different kinds of repellents as well as a few garden enclosure suggestions. Hopefully, one or more of these methods work for you, and you can keep the squirrels away. So let us know in the comments what worked for you and what didn’t so it can help others!