Have you noticed small holes in your yard or around your garden? How about vegetables that are half eaten and left out in the open? Or perhaps you've noticed your freshly planted bulbs have been mysteriously dug up.
If you've encountered one (or multiple) of these occurrences, we hate to break it to you, but you've got a squirrel problem.
Many people think squirrels are cute. However, if you have a garden you're likely all too aware of the issues they cause. They come around heavily in Fall to prepare for Winter, but they can also be spotted in high numbers in the Spring, making them an almost year-round issue.
While some people enjoy watching squirrels, others find them to be a pest. In this article, we're going to break down some of the best ways to keep squirrels out of your yard and away from your bird feeder. You can implement one or many of these steps and see a drastic improvement in the number of squirrels around your home and the damage they cause.
10 Ways To Repel Squirrels
Here's the top 10 best ways to get squirrels out of your yard, and keep them out.
- Move their food: Squirrels come around because of bird feeders, or other food sources in your yard such as natural vegetation or a home garden. One of the most effective ways to get squirrels to go away is to remove the food source. If you have a garden, you can encase it in a wire fence, or, if it's a small garden in a box, move it inside a screened area that still gets adequate sunlight. If you see fallen nuts, acorns, or berries, be extra diligent about keeping them cleaned up. Once the squirrels realizes you don't have good, they'll go searching somewhere else.
- Scent the area: Just like deer, squirrels are repelled by certain scents. You can either buy an off the shelf solution, or use things like coffee grounds or peppermint oil around your yard and garden. Squirrels hate these smells and may likely go elsewhere in search of a meal.
- Get a dog: Now, don't just go adopting a dog because you have a squirrel problem. A dog is a decade long commitment or more. If you're already considering adopting a dog, put them on squirrel patrol to help scare away the pests when they make their way into your garden.
- Scare them when you see them: Like most of us, squirrels aren't fond of being scared. Sudden loud noises can shoo the squirrel away, at least temporarily. You can also shoot them squirrel with water from a hose or a water gun to discourage them from coming to your yard. (Make sure you don't hurt them though!)
- Create a barrier: Along the same lines as moving the food source, if you have a recurring squirrel issue, you may want to consider building a small greenhouse, or enclosing your garden in chicken wire or bird netting. Squirrels are very intuitive animals, so your enclosure has to be tough and difficult to penetrate.
- Invite natural predators: Squirrels don't like birds of prey, but birds of prey like squirrels. If you've seen hawks or owls in your neighborhood, make a perch for them to invite them into your yard. The simple presence of a predatory bird in or around your yard will scare the squirrels away for good.
- Plant things squirrels don't like: If you have a garden full of vegetables that squirrels love, consider adding a few plants they hate alongside. Specifically, you can try things like mint, mustard, marigolds.
- Place mulch strategically: Squirrels generally don't like the feeling of mulch on their feet. Can you really blame them? If it makes sense for your yard or vegetable garden, consider laying down mulch, or even temporarily something scarier, like aluminum foil which makes a noise, to help keep squirrels from eating anything or digging up your plant bed.
- Use a squirrel feeder: Wait, isn't this an article on how to repel squirrel pests? Well, sometimes repelling squirrels isn't the best bet. The goal is to keep squirrels away from what you care about, to keeping squirrels fed with their own feeder can help keep them away from your plants.
- Give them water: Another somewhat counterintuitive tactic, if you wan to keep squirrels away from your juicy tomatoes, give them some water. Sometimes, squirrels will eat juicy vegetables just because they're thirsty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know the best ways to keep the squirrels out of your yard, let's talk about some of the best common questions we get about squirrels.
- Is cayenne pepper a squirrel repellant? Yes, cayenne pepper and other spicy things like chili peppers do a great job as a repellent for squirrels.
- Will moth balls keep squirrels away? While mothballs are an effective way of keeping squirrels out of your plans and garden, they're toxic. We don't recommend using them for this reason. Not only can they be deadly to squirrels, they can also be deadly to pets as well.
- Should I use a squirrel trap? Although traps may sound like a good idea initially, they aren't a very good long term solution. They do nothing to keep squirrels out, so they're likely to keep coming back. Not only are they impractical, they're also illegal in some areas. They can potentially hurt the squirrel, or separate a baby from its mother, leaving it with a minimal chance of survival.
- How do I protect bulbs in the spring? Squirrels and other pests love snacking on plant bulbs. Not only are they nutritious and tasty, but once you eat the bulb, there's a ready-made hole available to store a nut....a squirrels dream! To protect your vulnerable spring bulbs from squirrels, ty laying down hardware cloth or plastic bed netting around the plants in your garden. If this doesn't work, you can always double down on your defenses by adding chicken wire.
Keeping Squirrels Off Of Your Bird Feeder
Maybe you don't have a vegetable garden, but you love to bird watch! Bird feeders are very commonly overtaken by pesky squirrels, but theres a few things you can do to ensure the squirrels stay out.
If you want to keep your bird feeder for the birds, the first thing you can do is to make sure the area under the feeder stays clean. Squirrels will first forage around the ground, so allowing such an easy meal is a great way to make your yard appealing to a squirrel.
You should also place the feeder in an isolated area. Squirrels can jump impressively. If you keep the feeder around large plants or trees that the squirrel can get to, they can easily make their way onto the feeder or potentially knock it over.
If you have especially athletic squirrels that attempt to get up the pole of the feeder, you can also try greasing the pole. We've all seen the videos online of squirrels trying desperately to get to food in a feeder, but sliding down a greased pole. If you have tasty sunflower seeds or other nuts ripe for the pickings, you can bet a squirrel will try climbing the pole. The greasy pole is nearly impossible for the squirrels to climb, but since birds can fly, they have no issue getting to the food.
Squirrels in Your Home or Roof
While less common than having them in your garden, it's still a fairly common occurrence to have issues with a squirrel making its way into your home or your roof. If one is in your roof, the first thing you need to do is figure out where it got in.
It's easy to tell if you have one in your roof, you'll be able to hear it without a doubt. If you can find where they're living, check around that same area on the exterior of your home to see if you see any openings where they could have gotten in at.
You don't want a trapped dead squirrel in your roof, so if you find the opening, first try to scare them out, then go about closing up the hole. You can also wait until you see them foraging around outside before trapping them in. If you can, try to get up to the area where you hear them to inspect to make sure there aren't babies. If theres babies, you may need to call in professionals to help remove and relocate the pests.
When To Call Animal Control
If you have recurring issues of a squirrel making it's home in your home, garden, or roof, you may not immediately thing you need to call in animal control to help. However, if you have a recurring issue that chicken wire, peppermint oil or netting like bird netting can't solve, there's no shame in calling in the professionals to help save your garden.
Animal control will either find and remove the animal, or use a repellent squirrels hate. Either way, a pest control company or animal control are professionals. They do this for a living! They know the best ways to keep pests out of your home and garden, and are worth calling up if the issue is prolonged and you've already exhausted all of your own resources.
If you have more than 4 problem squirrels, it may be time to call in the professionals. The population will only grow over time, so having professionals help you with the removal will help ensure your garden stays looking good, and also helps control the population of the area as well.
If you know of a neighbor who feeds the pests, have a talk with them about whether or not its a good idea, and your potential intent to call animal control. With multiple homeowners in the same area working together, it's not uncommon to make an entire block unappealing to these rodents. Before you call animal control, see if you can work together with your neighbors on the issue first.
Having a squirrel issue in or around your home can be a pain. They can be one of the trickiest pests to get rid of because they're so adaptable and persistent. If you have the ability to use these tactics when going about your regular gardening to keep these critters away, give it a shot. A lot of these suggestions have a track record of success, and by using one or a combination of these tactics, you could see a dramatic decrease in squirrel damage to your planting beds or garden.
If you have bird feeders hat you want to keep around in your garden, try to make them trickier to get to. You can also erect defenses in your garden to help as well. These pests will work hard to get to your precious vegetables, so you have to work just as hard to keep them away!
If you have any other tactics to keeping squirrels out of your plants or garden, let us know about it in the comments section below! We're always open to hearing new and creative ideas to help keep your garden, and your home in the best possible condition for the majority of the year.