Squirrels are intelligent but mischievous animals that can quickly become a nuisance in your garden and around the home.
They have an insatiable appetite for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Once they have found ways to get into your garden and home, getting rid of them can be a frustrating and challenging process.
If you're searching for an answer on how to keep squirrels away from home and garden, we have included several tips for you to use.
Some technique may work better than others and the sooner you find a solution that works for you, the easier it will be to deal with these small furry creatures.
Let's get started.
Why should you worry about squirrels in the garden?
There is no doubt that squirrels are cute furry animals, but they can also cause a lot of damage to your home and garden. They're always trying to find food, and their main targets are seeds on bird feeders, garden produce, and sometimes even pet food.
Squirrels, like other rodents, are active in all seasons and don't hibernate except in cold spells when they simply lie low. They start hoarding food during autumn to use it when there are no more fruits on the tree.
This may seem like they don't pose any danger to your garden. But one particular squirrel species, Sciurus carolinensis, also known as a gray squirrel, gives gardeners and homeowners much grief.
Here are some common reasons that you don't want squirrels in the garden.
There is no doubt that squirrels are causing more and more problems due to urbanization and population growth. You should have an effective squirrel control plan if you want to keep them away from your home and garden.
What attracts squirrels in the first place?
Squirrels are smart, cute, and have entertaining personalities. Ground squirrels often spend their time in the garden to find food or make their homes to live and raise a family. They also use gardens for their playgrounds or looks for safety.
They often come into your garden in search of foods such as acorns, berries, bulbs, nuts, pine cones, safflower seed, and bird seed.
These are intelligent and curious rodents that continuously explore new territories and objects that look appealing.
You will often find them eating garden plants, dig holes, wrestle with each other or create nests. If they find enough opportunity to nibble on objects, they like to keep coming back.
Their teeth continue to grow, and they regularly need to chew on wires, barks, and woods to file down their teeth.
Any exposed electrical wires, cables, power lines, and wooden furniture makes it enticing to them.
Moreover, squirrels are territorial, and they don't want to give up their territory.
This means they have to show their presence by returning and fighting or chasing others that come into their territory.
How to identify squirrel damage in your garden?
It's essential that you first identify the actual cause of damage to your garden before taking any action. If you suspect that its squirrels are causing damage, you should look for areas where squirrels live.
In your garden, look for shallow holes and digs around the small plants, bulbs, fruits, and vegetables. If the damage is caused by squirrels, you will find small bites and half-eaten fruits and vegetables.
Squirrels like to hunt small insects and eat them. You may often find them digging around the soil and raised garden beds to uproots small plants and bulbs in the hunt of insects.
If they find any fresh plant bulbs, they like to eat these or make a hole in them to store nuts and other seeds for later.
When you look for the half-eaten plants or chewed up items, consider the presence of other rodents such as groundhogs or chipmunks in your garden.
If you have large mature trees in your garden, there is a reasonable likelihood of squirrels climbing and living on those trees.
How to get rid of squirrels from your garden and home
There is no doubt that squirrels are abundant throughout the US and everywhere else and becoming a real nuisance to homeowners.
They can easily chew through screens, get into attics and destroy gardens while carrying several diseases like rabies and fleas.
You must take action against them before they become too much of a problem in your yard or garden. Here are 15 ways to keep them away from your home and garden.
1. Grow squirrel repelling plants
Squirrels are picky eaters. They prefer certain types of plants and vegetables but absolutely dislike particular tastes and flavors from other plants. You can plant these near your vegetable and ornamental gardens to keep them away.
You can grow plants such as marigolds, mustard, daffodils, hyacinth, lily, peppermint, and geranium around the vegetable garden. These plants have a strong aroma that repel squirrels and they try to keep away.
These plants also keep other animals and rodents such as rabbits and chipmunks away from your yard.
2. Remove food and water
Squirrels will keep coming back as long as they find easy food and water sources in your garden.
If you have big fruit trees in your yard, these become an irresistible attraction for squirrels. You should clear up any fallen fruits, nuts, or acorns from your garden.
Several excellent and cheap nut pickers and nut graters are available in the market, making the cleaning task simple and convenient. You can leave these fruits away from your garden areas.
Squirrels get attracted to bird food. If you're going to install bird netting on your lawn, make sure to have a squirrel proof bird feeder that makes it difficult to climb on the bird feeder pole.
3. Trap and release them away from your home
Trapping and releasing them far from your home is one of the most humane ways to get rid of squirrels.
There are several types of squirrel trap available in the market that you can purchase and place it in the garden where squirrels often visit.
You can try Rugged Ranch Squirrelinator that can catch up to 25 squirrels in an hour. You can place small fruit or corn piece inside the trap to entice squirrels to get in.
Most states have legislation against harming animals. Make sure the trap doesn't cause any harm to animals, and you should try to relocate them when they're caught.
4. Build a fence around the garden and trees
You should build a protective barrier around plants and trees where you don't want squirrels to be visiting.
If you have large mature trees where squirrels like to climb, you can roll around 3 to 4 feet wide metal sheet or squirrel baffle around the tree that deter squirrels from climbing on a tree.
You should wrap it around the tree 6 to 8 feet above the ground so squirrels can't jump over the metal tree collar.
If you're growing vegetable gardens that keep getting damaged by squirrels, you can place netting over these plants to prevent rodents from reaching the fruits.
Ensure the netting is stable and fixed so it can't be moved by squirrels to get inside.
5. Use mulch to prevent the squirrel from digging soil
Spreading mulch or installing a chicken wire around the garden soil prevents these pesky squirrels from digging it. Mulch keeps the soft bulbs hidden from squirrels and creates a rough barrier that discourages squirrels from digging.
Gravel and small stones are other alternatives for mulching. These effectively hide newly planted bulbs and seeds and make it uncomfortable for a squirrel to walk on them.
6. Motion detective sprinkler to scare them away
You can scare squirrels and other rodents coming into the yard by installing a motion detective water sprinkler. We found Hoont Motion-activated jet blaster repellent to be very useful in keeping squirrels away from the garden.
This technique keeps squirrels, cats, and other animals away from your garden without much effort. You should place it around areas where squirrels frequently visit.
7. Use Cayenne pepper or peppermint essential oil
Squirrels have a sensitive nose, and the smell of cayenne pepper or peppermint overwhelms them.
You can also use peppermint essential oil that can be soaked in a small cotton ball and place it around the garden where squirrels visit.
Cayenne pepper or pepper flakes are also good deterrents that you can spray around flowers and seeds. When squirrels taste the hot pepper, they don't dare to try it again.
The good thing is, birds are immune to it, and you can spray it, including coffee grounds around bird feeders where squirrels often visit in search of seeds.
To make it easy to apply, you can use a crushed cayenne pepper and spray it near the ground. You can also mix it with petroleum jelly and spread it around the stems of plants you want to protect.
Mixing pepper spray in a small amount of water is also a very convenient way to apply it in the garden.
8. Apply commercial repellent
If you aren't making your own squirrel repellent, there are several different types of commercial repellent available in the market.
These are easy to apply and are rated to be safe on animals. You can try Bobbex Ready to use commercial repellent, which is useful for repelling squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and other rodents.
9. Spray strong odor apple cider vinegar
Vinegar has several home use, and most often, people have it already in their homes. You can create a vinegar and soap mixture spray that you can fill in a spray bottle to spray around in the garden that effectively repels squirrels.
The vinegar's strong smell discourages squirrels, rodents, and deer from coming closer to it. You may have to respray it to solve the squirrel problem after it has rained, or you have irrigated your lawn as the water washes it away.
Don't spray vinegar on plants, flower pots, or soil for pest control, as it will kill plants. This is only mean to be scattered at hard surfaces such as entry gates, driveways, or areas with no active vegetation, such as patio and pools.
10. Scare them away with dogs and cats
Dogs and cats are natural animal predators to squirrels. Even harmless domesticated pets can be effective deterrents to keep squirrels away.
If you have these pets in your home, you can let them play in your backyard. They can get good outdoor exercise while also scaring any hungry squirrel roaming in your garden looking for birdseed and fruits.
11. Cut down overhanging tree branches
Squirrels are very agile tree climbers. They don't have any problem from moving one tree to another jumping through branches.
If you have a problem with these rodents getting on your roof or in an attic, you should trim down any overhanging branches close to your home.
Trimming these extended branches also safeguard breaking it and falling on to a roof that may cause some costly roof repairs. If you have squirrels getting in through chimneys, install a chimney cap that blocks access to get inside.
12. Remove squirrel shelter
Squirrels are active all day long, so you may have to apply a combination of methods to effectively eliminate them. Squirrels make a home at the top of trees or shaded obscure places such as sheds.
You shouldn't let squirrels build a nest around your garden. Keep a watchful eye on the trees and if you see a squirrel building a nest, remove it as soon as possible.
You don't want it to raise its family over there as you will have to deal with more squirrels later.
You should also clean up your yard and remove any sheds or hiding places where squirrels may find it safe enough to start building a nest.
You should also remove any open trash cans that may attract squirrels and other rodents.
13. Repel squirrel with mothballs
Mothball is an excellent deterrent to squirrels as it emits pesticide fumes that make the stench unappealing to them.
If you decide to use mothballs, you have to make sure that you keep pets and kids away from it as these are toxic if consumed.
But if you can use it safely, such as in a moth hanger or wire mesh where animals won't be able to eat, it can work fine. You can hang these over the home trees where you see squirrels climbing.
14. Spray predator urine
Spraying predator urine in the yard is an effective solution to keep rodents and critters away from your garden. You can buy these from your local store or order them online.
These solutions contain fox or coyote urine that squirrels tend to avoid. When you spray it in your garden, squirrels sense the danger and like to keep far from it. "Shake Away Coyote/Fox Urine Granules" is very popular and effective.
15. Lure them with food away from your garden
If you want an easy solution to get rid of squirrels, you can provide them with easy food away from your garden.
This method is a bit controversial as you may end up inviting more squirrels but placing their easy food away from your garden will keep them at bay.
Squirrels like to eat peanuts, corn cobs, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. Placing these in an easy access squirrel feeder will keep these furry animals full and prevent squirrels from digging your gardens for seeds.
Can you kill squirrels in your yard?
The answer depends on your local bylaws on killing rodents and squirrels. For example, most states in the United States allow hunting squirrels as sports games or food consumption.
Some states such as California require people to acquire licenses before they trap or kill squirrels.
Some squirrel species are protective and are forbidden to be killed. For example, if you live in British Columbia, Canada, you may need permits to hunt native red squirrels.
In other countries like the United Kingdom, people can kill invasive grey squirrels as they're classified as pests.
How you kill squirrels also matters as some states won't allow you to use pellet guns, BB guns to shoot squirrels, or you can kill them with a bow and arrow.
Poisoning squirrels within a bait seed may also be deemed illegal. It can result in the accidental death of pets and birds.
If you're facing extreme infestation from squirrels and can't get rid of them using the above means, you should consider hiring a professional pest controller for the squirrel removal.
If you're troubled by cats in your yard, you can read our guide on how to keep cats away from your garden.
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