I’ve Found Squirrels in My Garden: How Can I Get Rid of Them For Good?

If you've found squirrels in your garden, it's agitating to say the least. These little critters can be notorious for making off with some of your harvest. So once you've found them lurking around, how do you get rid of them? And more importantly, how do you prevent them from coming back? In this article, we walk through everything you need to know.

Squirrels in Garden

Squirrels are often one of the most noticeable pests in your garden. Not only will they get into your berries and veggies, but squirrels also love to dig holes and chew on leaves. Unfortunately, most people can’t handle that sort of damage to their flowers. 

So what’s the best way to keep squirrels out of your garden? There’s no set-in-stone method for getting rid of squirrels. They can be a nuisance to anyone, but luckily there are several methods you can use for both treatment and prevention.

It’s worth noting that you may need to try out a few different methods and see if the squirrels react to any of them. Let’s go through the best ways to keep squirrels out of your gardening space. 

Clean Up Your Gardening Space 

Woman Cleaning Windfalls From the Ground
Removing windfallen fruits from your garden or yard can help keep squirrels out.

Squirrels are among the best scavengers in the animal kingdom. They have a unique ability to search out nuts, berries, or other food and store it in their burrows for later. If you have these sorts of plants in your gardens, you need to clean up regularly. 

Cleaning up can be a breeze or a difficult task depending on the time of year you decide to clean. If you have a cherry tree, for example, it might be best to harvest most of the cherries before they have the chance to fall. By cleaning up the fruit before the squirrels have the chance to eat, you reduce the amount of time they spend in your gardening area. 

It’s not just fruits that can attract squirrels though. If you have open trash cans or an unsealed compost bin near your gardening space, they may be what’s attracting the squirrels. If that’s your problem, purchase a trash can with a proper lid and find better materials for your compost.  

Get a Dog 

Rottweiler in a Vegetable Garden
A dog can scare away squirrels and other pests from your yard or garden.

If you’re looking for a tried-and-true way to keep squirrels out, your best bet is to get a dog. Dogs are among the best squirrels deterrents because they love to run around. Since most dogs have abundant energy, leaving them in the backyard to chase after squirrels is a good way to burn off their energy as well as keep squirrels away.  

For some people, getting a dog is beyond their means. Maybe your schedule is too hectic or your yard isn’t suited for a dog. If that’s the case, you can move on to a different method.  

However, how many dog owners have you ever heard complain about squirrels in their gardens? Getting a dog might be worth considering if the other options on this list are not feasible. 

Use Netting For Protection

Netting Around a Garden
Adding a net around your gardening space is a good way to prevent squirrels from reaching your precious plants.

Physical barriers are a solid way to ensure squirrels aren’t getting into your garden, although they only tend to work in small, raised garden beds. Attempting to run netting along the entirety of your gardening area would be wasteful and time-consuming. 

But if you have raised garden beds, netting them off might be your best option when it comes to keeping squirrels away. You can purchase chew-proof netting at your local garden supply store.  

Using either metal or wood supports, string the netting around your plants. If you can, you should also bury the netting two or three inches down. That way, any squirrels who think they can dig beneath the netting will have the surprise of their lives.  

When you set up any physical barrier to keep squirrels out, always remember how good squirrels are at climbing. You need to create a dome or cube around your plants. Otherwise, squirrels will climb over the netting and gorge on your plants.  

Aluminum Foil 

Aluminum Foil Close Up
Adding aluminum foil to the base of your plants can scare squirrels away.

Squirrels hate both the feeling and sight of aluminum foil. The shiny glare from the foil is usually enough to scare off any squirrels, but if any brave squirrels do approach your plants, don’t worry! When the squirrel steps on the aluminum foil, it feels slippery and makes some sound. That’s usually enough to scare them off.  

It’s best to use aluminum foil as a squirrel deterrent in a small area. Lay down a layer of foil beneath your plants until it covers the majority of the soil in that particular bed. Make sure to poke numerous holes in the foil so you can water your plants.  

After that, all you need to do is wait. You should see a few adventurous squirrels testing out the foil. They may take a step or two, but after that, they’ll avoid your garden like the plague.  

Plant Squirrel Deterring Bulbs 

Yellow Daffodils in Sunlight
There are some bulbs, like daffodils, that squirrels detest, and planting them helps ward them off.

When you first plant your flowers, you may notice your bulbs get stolen by animals fairly often. One of the biggest culprits of stolen bulbs is squirrels, although other animals, like rats and deer, eat them too. 

So how can you ensure your bulbs don’t get eaten by these pests? You can plant rodent-repelling flowers, such as daffodils. These flowers have bulbs that taste and smell too strong for animals to enjoy. Planting bulbs that squirrels don’t like will help you save your flower garden, but won’t keep them away from any fruiting plants. 

Predator Urine 

Fox Hunting in the Woods
You can find predator urine i the form of sprays at your local garden store or nursery.

If squirrels won’t leave your garden alone even after you’ve tried everything else, it may be time to try urine. Squirrels have a strong sense of smell and are extremely fearful. With both these attributes together, spreading a predator’s scent around the area can have major advantages.  

Common squirrel predators include foxes and coyotes. You can find pest deterrent sprays that use their urine at local garden stores or nurseries. When you use these sprays, make sure you’re wearing old clothes. The stuff can stink and it tends to remain in your clothes until you wash them a few times.  

To use predator urine, simply spray it around your yard or garden with a special focus on areas with obvious signs of squirrels. You’ll have to reapply it often, especially after it rains.  

Pepper 

Cayenne Pepper Ground up
Sprinkling a bit of pepper around your gardening space can keep squirrels from coming back.

Squirrels are not accustomed to certain tastes. One taste most squirrels thoroughly hate is the spiciness of peppers. In a pinch, you can spread cayenne pepper (or another hot pepper) powder on your plants. 

When the squirrels come to eat your plants, they’ll have a rude surprise! After they try your plants a couple of times, they’ll realize your garden isn’t right and move on to the next one. You will have to reapply the pepper powder every so often, especially after a rainfall.  

Invite a Predator to Live in Your Yard 

Screech Owl Peeping Out From Owl Box
Install an owl nest box in a high tree to attract an owl, who will then prey on rodents.

One of the squirrel’s most feared predators is the owl. Owls are among the best rodent predators on the planet. With their sharp vision and talons, owls frequently eat rabbits, rodents, and squirrels. 

You can install an owl nest box, which is essentially a birdhouse, just larger and higher up. It’s not guaranteed to attract an owl, but if it does, the squirrels are in trouble. The owl will hunt the squirrels in your yard, leaving your garden to you and your plants.  

Most people won’t want to wait to see if an owl uses their yard as its home. That’s an understandable reaction. But an owl, or any other predator for that matter, is a permanent solution to your problems.  

It’s recommended to use the predator method in conjunction with another method. That way, you get the long-term benefits from the owl and the short-term benefits of netting, as an example.  

Motion-Activated Sprinklers 

Sprinkler Spraying Water
Sprinklers activated by motion can scare away squirrels without hurting them.

Motion-activated sprinklers can be an awesome way to keep squirrels away, especially if you tend to be out of the house for most of the day. You can usually find motion-activated sprinklers at your local garden or hardware store.  

To use this method, find a spot in your yard where your sprinklers can sit undisturbed. From there, the spray should reach whatever plants you’re trying to protect.  

Also, remember to test out the motion detectors before finding the sprinkler’s semi-permanent home. You can test it out by throwing a tennis ball near your plants. If the sprinkler turns one, you’ve found a good spot. If it doesn’t, keep moving the sprinkler until it works.  

If your gardening space is large, you may have to purchase more than one sprinkler. You’ll want your sprinkler to cover all your plants, not just a few. From here, getting those pesky squirrels off your plants is a breeze. The spraying water and sounds should be enough to scare off any of those critters.  

Final Thoughts 

So, as you can probably tell, there are many ways for you to keep squirrels out of your garden. From the more labor-intensive, such as setting up netting, to the hands-off motion-activated sprinklers, there’s a way for everyone to keep squirrels out of their gardens.  

Now that you know the best ways to prevent squirrels from inhabiting your space, you can get back to gardening without worrying about stolen tomatoes or chewed-up leaves.  

Just remember, not all of these methods will deter the squirrels in your garden. For some people, cleaning up does the trick, but for others, that doesn’t keep the critters away. You have to test some out and find one that works best for you.

Butterfly on Vegetable in Garden

Information

Are Butterflies Good or Bad For Vegetable Gardening?

If you are starting a new vegetable garden, it's only natural to wonder about which pests are harmful, and which are beneficial to your new found veggie patch. Butterflies are a bug, that frequent areas with plants that flower or bloom. But are butterflies good or bad for vegetable gardens? Should you keep them away from your new veggie patch? Organic gardening specialist Logan Hailey answers this question.

Organic Gardening Tips

Information

11 Organic Gardening Tips and Hacks To Grow Your Best Organic Garden

Organic gardening can be a bit tricky, especially for newer gardeners just starting out. That's why having a few tips and tricks up your sleeve over the average gardener can pay dividends. While you can't shortcut a perfect organic garden, you can definitely give yourself a running head start. In this article, organic gardening specialist Logan Hailey outlines her 11 favorite tips to make sure you start off planting on the right foot.

Pill Bugs in Garden

Information

Are Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies) Good or Bad For Gardens?

Gardening always comes with challenges. Some of these challenges include various pests, bugs, or other garden nuisances. One of these pests, is the pill bug, also known as the rollie pollie. These little bugs are usually targets of small children to play with in the dirt outdoors. But what happens when you see them in the garden? Are pill bugs good or bad for gardening? In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey answers this question.

Poison Ivy Lookalike Boxelder

Information

Plants That Look Like Poison Ivy: 11 Lookalikes To Be Aware Of

Think you may have discovered some Poison Ivy near your home or in your garden? While it’s always good to be on the lookout, what you’ve found may not be Poison Ivy at all - just an incredibly convincing lookalike. Gardening expert Madison Moulton discusses the differences between these lookalikes and the real thing.

Horticulturist vs Botanist Examining Plant

Information

Botanist vs. Horticulturist: What’s the Difference Between Them?

Thinking of becoming a botanist or a horticulturist, but aren't sure what the difference is between the two? These two areas of study are both rooted in the study of plants, but have some distinct differences. In this article, we look at both disciplines, and what you can expect as you further your knowledge in each of them.