There are many kids and adults alike who love to watch all the antics of squirrels. However, there can be significant squirrel damage in your yard if you don’t do something to deter them.
Squirrels are fast learners, so it won’t take them long to find their way past anything so they can find those bird feeders, or fruity flavored berries, and flowers. Squirrels also have teeth that they need to gnaw with to keep them under control.
You can find lots of areas where squirrels cause damage, so here, we will see how to keep squirrels out of garden plants and pots.
Signs You Have a Squirrel Problem
Before you know how to tackle your problem, you need to determine to what extent you have a squirrel problem.
You can find all manner of activities, so here are the most common things that show you can have a problem with squirrels.
- Shallow Digging – if you have planting beds, you have not long planted. These are targets as squirrels search for fresh seeds.
- Bite Marks – If you have fruits around the garden, you may find some are missing pieces. Squirrels may eat a chunk of a tomato, cucumber, squash, or beans.
- Missing Seedlings – if your garden is sprouting, you may find these are vanishing. Squirrels can be partial to succulent seedlings.
- Digging in Containers – If you see your containers dug into, this can be a squirrel burying something. Chipmunks do the same thing, but the result will be the same.
- Half-Eaten Flowers – Squirrels love to eat daisy blooms as well as tulips. You can start planting bulbs that squirrels don’t like the taste of. This includes crocus, daffodils, and others.
One thing to note is when you look at a squirrel vs. chipmunk, a squirrel most often lives in trees like a Gray Squirrel, whereas a chipmunk will dig burrows around the garden. These openings can be hard to spot as they hide their tracks pretty well.
Chipmunks mate for life, and they have a set territory. This means if you have a breeding pair, you will have a few more chipmunks joining you soon, which may want to remain in the area rather than traveling.
Squirrel Prevention Methods
Just like any other wild animal, a squirrel will take advantage. It is their opportunistic nature that brings them into gardens in droves. A bird feeder is a great example, as these are chock full of sunflower seeds and nuts.
No matter how secure you make these, birds will always knock seeds and nuts onto the floor.
One way you can halt their appetite for these is to swap out their favorites with something like safflower seeds, or you can treat the seeds in the feeder with cayenne pepper.
Many individuals think a dog or cat can be a prevention method, and in some instances, it will work for a period. However, all pets need sleep, and a squirrel will wait for the right time before making its way into your garden.
There are plenty of other things you can do when looking at keeping squirrels out of your garden.
Pruning tree branches can be one of the first places to tackle. This is something you need to do if these branches reach your home.
Home roofs and chimneys are other areas, which require protection. A chimney cap can stop them from entering your home.
When looking at how to keep squirrels out of potted plants, you can either make a cage out of netting or add a good layer of mulch to the top of the pot.
This can discourage digging squirrels. Adding a sprinkling of hot ground pepper can be one of the best ways to keep them out of your pots.
One of the best ways to rid gardens of squirrels is to deter squirrels in the first place. You can find lots of ways to deter squirrels in stores, yet the majority of these will be based on hot peppers or the urine of predators. (Read How To Pick Garlic)
Squirrel repellants can be effective, but they need reapplication. Even with the homemade ones, these can be affected by sunlight, wind, and rain. To stop this, it can make your once beautiful smelling garden an unpleasant place to be when it stinks of garlic or urine.
Out of all the things that you can use to repel squirrels or chipmunks from your garden, it appears there is nothing as effective as hot chili pepper powder. This can be very effective when you spread it in selective areas, and it can be one of the more affordable solutions. (Learn How to Keep Birds Out of Garden)
Sprinklers, Noise, and Decoys
Gardeners resort to all manner of things to try and keep squirrels out of garden planters and veggie patches.
Owls made from resin or large rubber snakes can be strewn all over. However, these are not the most effective ways how to deter squirrels.
You can use high-pitched beepers and sprinklers set off by motion detection, yet these also lose effectiveness over time.
Fencing and Enclosures
Fences are of no use against any member of the squirrel family. Aside from this, they are not nice to look at and will be very expensive.
One thing is when fine meshing is used. Some gardeners say that squirrels struggle to climb this kind of soft mesh.
However, if made from plastic, it doesn’t offer much protection against their sharp teeth.
Fences do little, yet in your vegetable garden, a floating row cover can be highly effective. For some reason, squirrels don’t like to be enclosed as it affects their ability to escape.
Plants and Tree Protection
Depending on where you live, you can have a problem with chipmunks and ground squirrels. The Eastern Chipmunk is a kind of ground squirrel that follows the same sort of daily activities.
From digging to foraging, they will be busy looking for food that helps them survive the winter.
If you live close to trees or parks, then it can make more sense to protect your plants rather than your garden as a whole.
Mesh cloches can be ideal, and if you can’t purchase them, you can make them from strong chicken wire.
You can also use plastic bird netting or hardware cloth on top of the chicken netting to achieve the same thing for individual plants.
You can use the same netting for protection against birds to wrap fruits. Squirrels are more interested in ripe fruits, so covering these can be a good deterrent.
Some gardeners use aluminum flashing around the base of trees or feeder poles. This makes it very hard for squirrels to climb.
However, if there is anything within ten feet or more, they can easily jump this distance.
Plants Which Repel Squirrels
Several plants repel squirrels. Here are seven of the best for doing such a thing.
- Daffodils – These are proven to deter squirrels, rabbits, and deer in North America. You can plant these around your borders as a line of defense.
- Geraniums – These are hardy plants so that they will cover cooler fall temperatures and the summer heat. Squirrels hat the scent to be a great addition to brighten up the garden while serving a good function.
- Lily-of-the-Valley – These are ideal for shaded areas of gardens. Squirrels hate the scent of the Bell-shaped flowers.
- Galanthus – These plants have a strong scent, which squirrels don’t like.
- Alliums – These plants are a member of the onion family. While there are ornamental varieties, there are also edible varieties such as onions, garlic, and scallions.
Other smells that can repel squirrels are hot chili peppers. These you can sprinkle around your vegetable gardens, or you can use peppermint. This can be either a peppermint plant or a spray. Squirrels are not keen on this minty smell.
One of the best ways to stop squirrels from venturing into your garden is to maintain a clean garden. If there are little signs of food, then they will be less inclined to venture to look.
This, along with any of the above deterrents or plants that repel through smell and you can reduce the impact squirrels have on your plants and vegetables.
None of the above take much effort, yet they may not be the fastest methods.
It may take a while, but once squirrels decide there is either no food there for them or an uncomfortable place for them to venture, they may quickly look for alternative places to forage and find their stash of food for the winter.