How to Keep Squirrels Away

Last updated : 29 June 2015

How to Keep Squirrels Away

By ( [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you live in the country or the city, it is likely that you have encountered a squirrel or two in your own backyard. At any given moment, these expert climbers can be seen running up and down trees, scampering across power lines, or digging under bushes.

Although many people have a favorable opinion of squirrels, they do tend to cause some problems for their human neighbors. Squirrels spend much of their time foraging for food—eating to survive the day, while also gathering and storing food for the future.

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Because of this often frenzied search for meals, our backyards and gardens become hotspots for unwanted squirrel activity.

Squirrels are very persistent animals; they do not stop until they get what they want. Because of this behavior, squirrels are often considered pests.

They chew up fruit and vegetable gardens and dig countless little holes in landscaped yards. Not to mention, they occasionally destroy property, chewing through any object that may be in the way of their food.

When wondering how to keep squirrels away from your garden, you will find that there are, fortunately, many different options.

Remove Incentives

There are many simple steps to take when beginning to squirrel-proof your yard. A first step is to remove any incentives; you should always rake up and remove any nuts or berries that fall from trees so squirrels are not lured in by the scent or sight of food lying around the yard.

For the same reason, make sure that the lids are always sealed tightly on your trash cans. These two practices will likely deter not only squirrels, but many other pesky animals, from entering your yard.

Another way that you can prevent squirrels from choosing your yard as their hunting ground is to trim any long or hanging tree branches that are near your garden.

If you do not, squirrels that are nesting in the trees above may use the branches as access to any edible items in your garden below.

Using Repellants

When considering how to keep squirrels away from your yard, a more direct option is to use a squirrel repellant. Different critter repellants can be purchased at hardware stores or lawn and garden stores.

However, you can probably find several natural squirrel repellants in your own kitchen. Typically, squirrels do not like the scent of spicy foods. Sprinkling hot spices, such as cayenne pepper or chili powder, over affected areas should keep squirrels away.

These spices will not harm the squirrels or your plants, but they will prevent the critters from chewing on or digging up your greenery. Additionally, garlic can be used to discourage squirrels from invading your garden.

Mix either chopped jalapeno pepper or garlic with vinegar and water in a squirt bottle to create a spray that will repel any pesky squirrels. When using these particular repellants, though, it is important to reapply after every rainfall.

Another natural squirrel repellant is peppermint. Squirrels will avoid the strong scent of a live peppermint plant or the concentrated smell of peppermint oil, which can be dropped onto cotton balls and placed throughout your garden.

Mothballs can also be used to repel squirrels. While mothballs are deadly for moths, they are only a nuisance for squirrels.

Securing a few mothballs in wire mesh, or even an old pair of nylon stockings, and placing it near affected areas should keep squirrels away from any edible items in your yard.

Predator Scents

The presence of a predator is yet another natural squirrel repellant. If you are interested in getting a pet, a cat or a dog can help to deter squirrels from searching for meals in your backyard.

Cats and dogs, who love to play with anything that moves, keep squirrels away by chasing them. While your pet may not actually catch the squirrels, their presence alone will encourage the critters to dine elsewhere.

If acquiring a new pet is not an option, the scent of a predatory animal may also work to repel squirrels. Animal urine or repellant scents, which can be purchased online or in the hunting section of many sporting goods stores, will give squirrels the false impression that there is a threat in your backyard.

Much like spices and garlic, repellant scents need to be reapplied after rain or snow.

Another way to keep squirrels out of your garden is to lure them away with the promise of tastier food somewhere else. Squirrels may be munching on your flowers or vegetables out of pure hunger, not because they actually like the taste.

Place a squirrel feeder with food that is more appealing to squirrels, such as peanuts or sunflower seeds, at the edge of your property to draw them away from the areas you want them to avoid.

Electronic devices, such as motion sensitive lights and high-frequency sound emitters, can be used to frighten squirrels and deter them from invading your garden.

Motion-activated sprinkler systems are another good option, as they can scare squirrels away while simultaneously watering your grass and garden.

You can protect existing foliage, as well as newly planted bulbs, by installing a fence. Fencing, as long as it is buried deep enough, can be used to prevent squirrels from digging their way into a garden.

Mesh netting can also be used to keep squirrels away from edible items in your backyard. Squirrels cannot chew through mesh netting and they cannot squeeze through the tight-knit holes; placing the netting over flower beds or fruits and vegetables prevents squirrels from snacking on the plants underneath.

Squirrels are extremely adaptable animals and they can learn to thrive in many different environments, including our yards. Consequently, many of us are left wondering how to keep squirrels away from the flora we love.

We may not be able to keep them out of our space completely, but we can learn to control and lessen the effects of their frenzied feeding.

Whether you choose to use all, or only one, of the methods mentioned above, you should be on your way to keeping squirrels from interfering with any plans you have for your own lawn and garden.

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  1. Anonymous says

    I’ve found that fresh citrus peel or even better, whole or cut up citrus fruit that has gone bad and would end up in the compost anyway, works to deter squirrels. I just strew it on the ground or in the raised beds/containers and they leave it alone…racoons hate it too. You do have to put out more when the peels dry up and deteriorate. This even stopped a persistent squirrel who was digging up the plants in a container I had left out all winter . He had buried some black walnuts in there in the fall -I found them when I replanted in the spring- and he had been looking for them every night until I surrounded the pot with orange peels…he never dug there again and my lettuce and eggplant have been unmolested ever since!

  2. Anonymous says

    I love watching all the Squirrels, and Chippies, but, they have cost me $100.00’s of dollars over the yrs., they practically ate all my very expensive flower bulbs, dug holes all over the yard to the point where if their not a bulb under the spot the plants are dying anyway. Have 5 acres here. 2 1/2 is flowers and veg. gardens, I’m at a loss and can’t afford to keep replacing all these expensive plants every year! Gotta try something, there’s dozens of these running all over the yard and ruining it form one end to the other!

  3. Alice says

    Well, I just tried cayenne pepper on a potted peony as the squirrels are eating the buds as they appear. I sprinkled it on the buds, leaves and the dirt. About 15 minutes later, I walked by the door and saw a squirrel in the pot. I watched for his reaction and saw him Rolling around the dirt. Not just once but over and over. He didn’t stop until I opened the door. Then he stuck his head out and looked at me. I think he was thanking me for spicy up his snack!! I need another solution.

  4. Gary says

    I have been fighting squirrels for several years. The first encounter they were chewing through the aluminum ties on the top of my fence. Then they began plunking their fuzzy rat tails in the bird feeder. I have solved that problem by greasing the bird feeder pole so they slide off. Now, they are using the ornamental decoration on the top of the gates and anything else plastic, to sharpen their teeth. I’m going to try the cayenne pepper with the hopes that they WILL scratch their eyes out!!

  5. Jen says

    I thoroughly cleaned the litter box outside and disposed the remains (mostly water) in the woods behind my house. Do you think the scent help keep squirrels away?

  6. amy says

    They aren’t hungry. There’s plenty for them to eat. They are rats with tails. And please explain to me how a fence helps anything? They climb…EVERYTHING.

  7. Rob Bennett says

    OH YUM!!!
    Pre-seasoned LIMB CHICKEN!
    Mix the pepper with some butter, white wine, a pinch O’ salt and there you have it. Pre-seasoned “Limb Chicken”!
    I tried some IEDs a few years ago. After them crtiiers ate all my corn plants, I never got to try and use my IEDs. An old pill vial, some cyanne pepper along with three or four fire crackers, some D size batteries or a rechargable power tool battery, 50 to 100 feet of wire, a switch and some electronic matches. Place a couple IEDs in strategic Limb Chicken areas and wait. When the critter gets a few feet away from the IED, BOOM! If the pepper doesn’t get ’em, the fire crackers will scare the fur right off of them. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! It could be illegal to set off fireworks where you live. If you live in Florida, just check the box that indicates you will use the fireworks for scariing animals away from your crops.(Really, it’s true)
    I am right now watching about ten of them critters frolicking around the back yard. The osprey and hawks must be on strike.
    Good luck!

  8. Christina says

    I hate squirrel, hate is a strong word I really hate them but to think of it ripping out its own eyes I mean come on that’s so mean. I’m going to put spikes on my garbage cans like the bird spikes on building. i can’t imagine a bloody squirrel running all over my property ewwwww.

  9. Sharon says

    Never use cayenne or hot pepper of any type because if they get it in their eyes from their paws or whatever, they will scratch their eyes out trying to get rid of it. Please use another method.

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