Maintaining a garden space full of delicious crops is a rewarding experience, though it does come with its own challenges. A cute garden squirrel can wreak havoc on your garden spaces, so it’s vital to be aware of what keeps squirrels away from plants.
Knowing how to deter pests is an integral part of outdoor gardening, and knowing how to keep squirrels out of garden spaces can save a lot of time, money, and plants! Prevent the squirrels from digging up your plants by learning some methods on squirrel-proofing garden areas in your yard so you can enjoy your outdoor space without the worry of these fluffy but destructive rodents.
How to Identify Squirrels in the Garden
Squirrels are widespread across the US, and the odds are very high you’ve seen them in your backyard before.
The most well-known squirrel is the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), featuring a wiry, bushy tail and gray or white bellies. These squirrels love to hop around in trees and forage on the ground. These are found mostly in the eastern half of the United States across all USDA zones. Soft fruits, nuts, or even flowers are the favorite foods of these types of squirrels, as well as fox squirrels which are found in about the same area geographically.
Fox squirrels are more ground-dwelling than their gray squirrel lookalike. Another common found throughout the whole US squirrel is the red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). It sports a reddish color with a white underbelly. These fluffy jumpers tend to be a bit smaller than gray and fox squirrels and may feed on fruits, foliage from flowers, or a vine plant and seeds.
Regardless of what type of squirrel you may encounter, there are some telltale signs you’ve got squirrels in the garden:
- Bites taken out of fruits or bulbs.
- Golfball-sized holes dug in the planters.
- Missing fruit.
- Freshly planted seedlings being dug up.
Should We Keep Squirrels out of the Garden? Why?
Squirrels and chipmunks can be very destructive to gardens, so they tend to get a lot of hate for their mischievous behaviors. Here are some things to consider when thinking about keeping squirrels out of garden areas:
- Squirrels are not picky eaters. They will forage on nuts, seeds (especially from bird feeders), fruits, or vegetables growing in the garden and might munch on some flowers, too.
- Not garden alone. Squirrels may not stay exclusively in the garden and could wind up getting into your home.
- Digging everywhere. Squirrels can make holes in your pots, plants, and yard.
What Do Squirrels Hate the Most?
While squirrels may not have the most discerning of palates, there are some things that can be used to make them scare away. A strong smell like Garlic, Hot Peppers, Peppermint, or Vinegar may be unpleasant enough to keep squirrels out of gardens. These natural remedies can be an appropriate repellent for pesky creatures without actually harming them.
Full List of Ways on How to Keep Squirrels out of Your Garden
There are tons of creative solutions for squirrel prevention, and if you’re at a loss for what method is best to protect your garden from squirrels, look no further. Here’s a list of squirrel deterrents for gardens that can suit any need of any gardener:
- Plant crops squirrels won’t eat. What vegetables do squirrels not eat? These might be the types of plants you want in your garden: Garlic, Onions, and other alliums are foods avoided by squirrels.
- Utilize hot peppers. This is one of the best answers to the question “how to keep squirrels out of garden areas” as squirrels detest anything spicy. You can make a spicy spray using hot sauce, water, and a bit of dish soap, or simply sprinkle cayenne on and/or around your plants.
- Predator decoy. Decoys of owls, snakes, or other natural predators of squirrels can stop the rodents in their tracks. These can be great squirrel deterrents for garden spaces if you do not want to interfere with your plants by using physical barriers or chemical means.
- Motion sensor sprinklers. Nobody, not even squirrels, like getting blasted with water when they’re least expecting it. This can help keep your lawn watered and deter squirrels at the same time!
- Cover or enclose your crops. This can be done by putting them in a greenhouse or by getting mesh to place over your plants. Be sure to dig the mesh or barrier about 12 inches deep into the ground, and be sure the spaces in the mesh are small enough that the squirrels won’t be able to fit.
- Homemade repellents. Knowing how to protect your garden from squirrels includes having a few homemade repellent recipes up your sleeve. Homemade repellents can be made using Apple cider vinegar and a strong-smelling essential oil, like Peppermint, mixed into a spray bottle and applied to or near the plants you want to protect.
- Commercial repellents. These can be purchased ready to use at many garden or home improvement stores.
- Essential oil use. Peppermint oil, Garlic oil, and other strong-smelling oils can be used in a homemade spray or directly on the plants you want to protect as a direct means of repelling squirrels, chipmunks, and other grazing pests.
- Keep your area free of trash. Picking up any trash in the yard and keeping garbage cans closed can keep squirrels from thinking they have an easy meal waiting for them at your home.
- Use squirrel-proof bird feeders. Birds aren’t the only ones attracted to seeds! Squirrels will eat up all the bird seed unless you have a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Once they've realized they can’t access that food, they’re likely to move on to an easier calorie source.
- Use your morning coffee (grounds). Squirrels don’t like the strong smell of coffee, and plants tend to love the extra organic material and nitrogen present in the grounds. Sprinkle the remnants of the morning’s favorite drink around the base of your plants to keep the rodents away.
- Clear fallen seeds from trees. Many trees, like Oaks, will shed their seeds, which are a favorite of squirrels. You can collect these seeds and move them to a different area in your yard to keep the squirrels from free-roaming in your space.
- Ultrasonic or electronic sound repellents. These devices emit high-frequency sounds that can only be heard by squirrels. These sounds will mimic the sounds of predators or may just be irritating, and the squirrel will move onto safer, quieter areas.
- Keep things tidy. Keeping your plants neat can help deter squirrels from burrowing, nesting, or generally just rummaging about in your garden. As a plus, trimming your plants keeps them from getting too overgrown, which can trap moisture within the plant’s canopy, potentially leading to diseases.
- Utilize your pets. Have a dog that loves to be outside? Dogs can chase squirrels away, which might make that squirrel and its friends think twice about going back to the home of a predator. Just be sure you’re watching your dog so it doesn’t catch and harm the fluffy jumpers.
- Plant unattractive flowers. The only thing these flowers are unattractive to are squirrels! Lilies, Geraniums, herbs like Lavender and Peppermint, and Grape hyacinths are all lovely to the eye but will act as a protector of your garden since squirrels do not like these plants.
What Is the Best Way to Deter Squirrels from the Garden?
The best way to keep squirrels out of garden spaces and potted plants can vary depending on the issue the gardener is having and how they want to take care of it, though stopping squirrels from getting to the plants in the first place helps get rid of the problem entirely. What keeps squirrels out of gardens are physical barriers, as this is the most crucial line of defense against any pest. This can be done through an enclosure or the appropriate type of net around the plants.
Squirrel Deterrents to Avoid
Not every squirrel garden deterrent is effective or recommended. Of the ways to repel squirrels from gardens, these are the ones that shouldn't be utilized:
- Peanut butter. Too much can lead to metabolic bone disease for squirrels, as peanuts do not provide the suitable calcium-to-phosphorus ratio needed to keep the squirrels healthy.
- Squirrel traps. These animals can get caught in traps and hurt themselves, but they might also cause property damage by attempting to dig or get out of the trap.
- Mothballs. These are mostly just ineffective, odoring to humans, and need to be frequently replaced.
What Can Be the Reasons Why Squirrels Are Digging in the Garden?
Squirrels aren’t necessarily creatures of reason or logic, though sometimes their ferocious digging in your potted plants or yard can be easily understood.
- They’re looking for food, such as bulbs, tubers, or recently planted seedlings.
- They’re saving food for later and storing it in the holes they’re digging.
- They’re uncovering food they’ve previously stored.
How to Stop Squirrels from Digging up Plants?
Unsightly, bad for the health of your plants, and downright obnoxious, you’ll want to stop squirrels from digging up your plants as soon as you notice it’s an issue. Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to stop the vandals:
- Use physical barriers.
- Use chemical products, whether it is a commercial or homemade repellent.
- Bring plants that can live indoors inside.
- Place heavy top dressings, such as rocks, on top of the soil.\
What Is the Best Homemade Squirrel Repellent?
Squirrels are not fans of anything spicy, so the most effective homemade squirrel repellent for garden use consists of Cayenne pepper or other peppers (even hot sauce) mixed into some water with a couple of drops of dish soap in a spray bottle.
Do Squirrels Eat Garden Vegetables?
Squirrels will eat just about any vegetable commonly found in gardens, though strong-smelling plants like aAlliums, Herbs, and some types of flowers are enough to deter squirrels from garden spaces.
How to Keep Squirrels out of Mulch?
Mulch can be dug up by squirrels, annoyingly. Physical barriers like mesh or chicken wire can be used to prevent this. Chemical deterrents applied to the mulch may also help create a squirrel-proof garden.
How to Keep Squirrels out of Raised Garden Beds?
Using a physical barrier or other repellents, whether it is a commercial or homemade product, is the most effective way of protecting a garden from squirrels.
How to Keep Squirrels from Eating Flowers?
Squirrels can be kept from eating flowers by spraying the flowers with an organic squirrel repellent, such as Peppermint oil or Apple cider vinegar. Cayenne pepper can also be used as a squirrel deterrent for plants.