How to keep squirrels out of the garden

Lawn Care

The gray squirrel is the species that tends to create the most havoc for homeowners. Contrary to popular belief, the gray squirrel does not hibernate and can be a nuisance all year round.

The best way to keep squirrels out of your garden

Some people love watching squirrels scurry frantically about their yard and consider them a welcome guest. However, when a squirrel’s behavior becomes destructive, digging up bulbs and nibbling on vegetables in your garden, they begin to lose their appeal — you want them gone.

Unfortunately, since they’re so abundant, keeping squirrels off of your property is pretty much an impossible task. If you catch and remove one, another will gladly take its spot. However, squirrels are intelligent and have an incredible memory — they learn which food sources are safe and easy to access and which present risk. Taking advantage of their intelligence is how you can best combat your squirrel problem.

Understanding squirrel behavior

What do squirrels eat?

While a squirrel’s diet consists mostly of fruits and vegetables, they’re opportunistic omnivores and will eat nearly anything over their 6- to 12-year life in the wild. The different types of foods a squirrel will eat include fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts, fungi, insects, bird’s eggs, parts of plants and anything discarded by humans. 

Signs that you have a squirrel problem

In most areas, squirrels are abundant — you’ll see several of them in your yard throughout the day. While the mere appearance of squirrels doesn’t mean you have a problem, there are many clear signs that you should take action.

Some of the signs to look for include damaged or missing crops, dug-up bulbs, scattered soil in flower pots, small holes in garden beds, empty bird feeders and gnawed-up trash can lids. Besides the damage caused to your lawn and garden, if squirrels get too comfortable, they can invade your home and cause even more trouble.

When are squirrels most active?

Although squirrels can be out and about all day long, they’re most active in the mornings and evenings. During the spring, squirrels become active searching for fresh food, but it’s fall when they’re likely to cause the most trouble. As the weather begins to change, squirrels not only eat more, but they store food in secret spots, often in the ground, so they can have sustenance throughout the winter. Additionally, a storm will cause a squirrel to seek shelter, so a drop in barometric pressure can send a squirrel into a feeding frenzy.

Best strategies for keeping squirrels away from your garden

Remove attractants

Brute 32 Gal. Gray Round Vented Trash Can with Lid

The bad news is, you won’t be able to get rid of squirrels. The good news is, there are things you can do to keep your yard less appealing. Rake up and remove anything such as fallen fruit, nuts, seeds and other debris that may attract squirrels to areas where you don’t want them. Purchase a trash can that seals tightly or get a trash can lock to keep squirrels from going into your trash.

Use repellents

Squirrels have a keen sense of smell. Treating your yard with repellents that squirrels find unpleasant may help. Here are a few top choices.

I Must Garden Squirrel Repellent

I Must Garden Squirrel Repellent

This squirrel repellent is safe for plants, pets, pollinators and people, and it has no offensive odors. It can be sprayed nearly anywhere you have a problem with squirrels chewing. 

Sold by Amazon

Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent

Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent

The all-natural ingredients in this repellent can keep squirrels away for up to 60 days. The formula causes mild irritation to a squirrel’s nasal passages when the animal touches, tastes or smells the product.

Sold by Home Depot

Uncle Ian's Mole & Gopher, Deer, Rabbit & Squirrel Repellent

Uncle Ian’s Mole & Gopher, Deer, Rabbit & Squirrel Repellent

Use this product to form a barrier around your garden. It can provide up to 3,000 square feet of coverage and the all-natural formula is effective for up to 4 weeks.

Sold by Amazon

Scare tactics

Getting a dog or a cat is a great way to police your yard to keep it free from unwanted pests. However, if that isn’t in your plans for the future, there are other items that may help train squirrels to stay away from your garden.

Hausse 2-Pack Fake Horned Owl

Hausse 2-Pack Fake Horned Owl

Users have varying degrees of success with these plastic owls that are designed to frighten away birds and other small animals such as squirrels. If they’re effective for you, you still may need to move them around your garden so the squirrels don’t get used to them.

Sold by Amazon

Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler

This intelligent motion-activated sprinkler works day or night and can detect animals up to 40 feet away. The sprinkler head can be angled to spray lower to the ground to target smaller animals such as squirrels.

Sold by Amazon

Use fencing

If you’re finding squirrels don’t respond to other methods, consider purchasing fencing to protect your garden.

GRMLAND 1/4 Inch Mesh Chicken Wire Fence

GRMLAND 1/4 Inch Mesh Chicken Wire Fence

If you’d like to construct cages for your garden, this galvanized wire mesh is corrosion-resistant and features 1/4-inch openings that are suitable for keeping squirrels (and other animals) from entering your garden.

Sold by Amazon

AlpineReach Garden Netting Kit

AlpineReach Garden Netting Kit

This durable netting kit is specifically designed to protect your garden from wildlife. It comes with 100 zip ties that can be used for securing the netting.

Sold by Amazon

Relocate

Havahart 0745 One-Door Animal Trap for Chipmunk

While some suggest using a live trap to capture squirrels so they can be relocated, this may not be as effective as you were hoping. Once you remove a particularly troublesome squirrel, it opens the door to invite others onto your property. Additionally, there’s a risk factor involved with getting that close to live animals, so it might best be accomplished by hiring a professional.

 

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