How to Keep Squirrels Out of The Garden Naturally Leave a comment

Are the backyard neighbours driving you squirrely? Squirrels are pretty good at taking things that aren’t theirs, whether that is your prized strawberries or the bird seed for the songbirds. Here are some tips for how you can keep squirrels out of the garden using completely natural and humane methods.

squirrel eating. how to keep squirrels out of the garden

If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, then you know we have a lot of squirrels. My neighbourhood has lots of tall, old trees, so there are squirrels everywhere you look in the summer.

This past spring, I would come home and see all the squirrels nibbling at the bulbs I had planted for my stinzen garden.

I wasn’t too worried about it since we had planted a lot of bulbs. At least 800 or so. So unless a herd of 200 squirrels came by, I knew that there still would be plenty of bulbs that would flower in the spring.

And I was right! My approach to gardening involves embracing the local wildlife, from squirrels to snails to even aphids. It’s all part of existing in a larger ecosystem.

That being said, I know some animals and pests can do some hefty damage. If squirrels have taken over your yard, here are some tips on how to keep squirrels out of a garden using natural methods.

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6 Natural Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

Cover Plants

By far, the most effective ways to keep your plants safe from squirrel hands is by using physical barriers. For beds, you can use floating row covers to allow the sun to come through but protect your seedlings and bulbs.

For fruit trees—a squirrel favourite—you can hang bird netting. Close it tightly at the bottom so the squirrels can’t get in and other wildlife doesn’t get stuck. You can place the netting around the whole tree if it’s small or around clusters, securing it at the base of the branch.

You can also use chicken wire to wrap around your beds and containers or put them in protective cages for things you really care about.

squirrel on pathway. physical barriers for squirrel deterrents
Physical barriers work best if there are just a few plants in the garden you want to really keep squirrels away from.

Motion Sensor Sprinklers

Squirrels are skittish creatures, easily startling and running away if something tries to get closer. Setting up a motion sprinkle for any squirrels that come close to it will ensure they go running. Typically, this only needs to happen a couple of times before they get the jist and don’t come back.

If you set up motion sensor sprinklers, also ensure you’re following water regulations in your area. Turn off the motion sensors when there are restrictions in place.

Keep a Clean Garden

Squirrels can be attracted to trash, so be sure to tidy up any outdoor cooking spaces and put lids on top of garbage cans. You may find them wandering over to your compost as well. Consider moving it to a different location or using a different compost system that keeps pests out.

To be clear, I don’t mean bagging up the leaves and keeping the beds tidy when I say a clean garden. My garden is a natural, messy wonderland, and I like it that way. It’s great for all the beneficial insects I share my space with.

black compost tumbler on the back deck
A compost tumbler is a closed system that keeps pests out.

Get a Dog

Dogs love to bark and mark their territory. Squirrels aren’t going to like that. Whether you have a little barker or a big one, they should be pretty effective at keeping the squirrels away. I have a dog named Ozzie who, alongside his cat brother Magic, does a pretty great job of deterring animals from ever entering our garden.

I will mention that Magic wears a nice bell collar so that the songbirds stay safe, always knowing when he’s lurking nearby.

And if you don’t have an animal or want one, you can buy coyote urine or those from other predators (who knows how they bottle it up). Then, you sprinkle the urine to mark your garden. This must be reapplied after it rains and to refresh old markings.

Ozzie the dog keeping squirrels out of the garden
Always make sure all your plants are pet-safe if you have pets joining you in your garden.

Owl and Snake Decoys

Have you ever seen one of those plastic owls and gotten spooked or fooled for even just a second? These decoys exist to help keep animals away from the garden. Some people find them very effective, others not so much.

For squirrels, you will want to move the decoys every day. A noisemaker alongside the decoy can also make them more effective.

What is the Best Homemade Squirrel Deterrent?

When it comes to making homemade squirrel deterrents, you can use a variation of my pest control spray. Common ingredients that have been said to deter squirrels are chilli pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, cinnamon, and clove.

Other people have also sprinkled moth balls and Irish spring soap shavings throughout their garden beds.

For these homemade squirrel deterrents, some people swear by them, and others say they don’t work at all. I think it just comes down to the preferences of the squirrel you’re working with. If one doesn’t work, try another.

The important part of using these deterrents is reapplying them after it rains and every few days or so when the scent fades.

Ammonia-soaked rags are also quite effective at deterring squirrels. First, dilute the ammonia with water, then place the soaked rags near the garden beds. It should be noted that ammonia can harm plants when used improperly, so avoid placing it right by plants. Instead, place it on structures and other man-made surfaces.

pest control spray to keep squirrels out of the garden
I avoid using any kind of pesticides in my garden, instead opting to make a naturally smelly spray to keep pests away.

Frequently Asked Questions About Squirrel Deterrents

How do you keep squirrels out of the bird feeder?

You can squirrel-proof bird feeders by using a baffle. These covers can prevent the squirrels from accessing the food but allow the birds to stop still and have a bite.

Try to place your bird feeder in a place that’s more difficult for squirrels to reach. Use stand-alone feeders rather than those that hang from trees. You can also attempt to coat the stand in something friendly like coconut oil or Vaseline. The squirrels can’t get a grip and just slide down.

Do coffee grounds repel squirrels?

Squirrels hate strong scents, so there’s a good chance they will turn up their nose at coffee grounds. Like the other homemade squirrel deterrents above, they may work for some and not at all for others. You can at least try coffee grounds, even using them to aid the plants in your garden.

Does spraying vinegar keep squirrels away?

Some people will use a homemade spray with apple cider vinegar combined with things like peppermint oil and cayenne pepper to keep squirrels away. You will have to spray plenty and often to get some results from this method.

Will aluminum foil keep squirrels away?

Whether they don’t like the shiny surface or the crinkle of aluminum foil, squirrels aren’t fans of aluminum foil. You can place them in potted plants and other surfaces that squirrels frequent.

Let me know if any of these natural squirrel deterrents work for you. Got any other ideas that have worked for you in the past? Share them in the comments below to help a fellow gardener out!

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