How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Yard and Garden

Squirrels love to help themselves to bird seed, ripe fruit, and flowers as well as dig holes in your landscape.

Though kids may think they’re cute and lovable, squirrels can be real nuisances. After all, these bushy-tailed, food-stealing critters have a bad habit of helping themselves to bird seed, tree buds and bark, ripe apples and tomatoes, berries, flower blooms - the list goes on. Squirrels also like to dig holes in garden soil and planting pots, either to look for seeds or to bury food for later use. 

Here are some signs that squirrels are causing mischief in your yard and garden:

  • Small holes dug in planting beds and pots
  • Half-eaten (or missing) fruit or flowers
  • Missing plants
  • Munched-on seed-heads

To keep squirrels out of your yard and away from your garden, you need to make those spaces unattractive to them. Here’s a whole-yard plan for keeping squirrels away.

 

Take away easy food sources.

Squirrels are enthusiastic foragers, so pick up fallen nuts, fruits, and seeds. Don’t forget to secure trash can lids tightly and bury food scraps deeply into compost piles.

 

Scare them away. 

Rodent-chasing dogs and motion-activated noisemakers, such as garden spinners, pinwheels, and aluminum pie tins, all make good squirrel deterrents. In addition, if you’re watering your lawn anyway, consider using a motion-detecting sprinkler to increase the scare factor.

 

Use repellents. 

Chili peppers and mint are common home remedies for keeping squirrels at bay, since they detest the taste and smell of both. You can whip up a spray concoction using one of the many recipes found online. If you prefer the grab-and-go approach, try a no-stink commercial repellent spray like rain-resistant Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use, which uses essential oils that create a smell and taste squirrels naturally hate. For large areas, get fast coverage by using Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Granules. Be sure to follow all label directions.

 

Spread some mulch. 

Although squirrels are natural diggers, you can discourage digging and help protect seedlings by covering the soil around your plants with a layer of mulch.

 

Cover your plants. 

Consider using a physical barrier, such as plastic netting, fencing, or chicken wire, to help keep your plants from harm.

If you have bird feeders, you know they present their own set of anti-squirrel challenges. Try these tactics:

Be strategic about feeder placement. 

Consider relocating the feeders far away from jump-off points (like trees). Another option is to get a bird feeder with a weight-sensitive bar that lets birds (not squirrels) get to the food.

 

Make feeders hard to climb. 

Hardware cloth, aluminum ducting, plastic pipe, netting, wire screening, chicken wire, or plastic bottles attached around the base of your feeders may help keep squirrels away—at least for a little while.

 

Switch the seeds. 

Squirrels are notorious lovers of sunflower seeds. The simple solution? Switch to safflower seeds. Birds love them. Squirrels don’t.

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