In a hurry?: You can keep squirrels away from your garden by taking away their food source, using repellents, or scaring them away. There are other possible control methods discussed through out the article.
Signs That Squirrels Are Causing Mischief in Your Garden
Before you take action to keep squirrels away from your garden, first, make sure that they are indeed a problem. Here are signs that squirrels are causing trouble in your garden or yard.
- Small holes: If you notice tiny holes all over your lawn or on your potted plants, it’s a sign of squirrel activity. Squirrels like to bury or “cache” their food supply. These bushy-tailed creatures have a great sense of smell and can easily relocate their buried food. They bury food to ensure they have enough during winter. In addition, some species of squirrel dig holes for shelter.
- Half-eaten (or missing) fruit or flowers: Squirrels are herbivores, so they mostly feed on vegetables, fruits, and plants. If you see that there are half-eaten fruits or flowers, there may be squirrels wreaking havoc in your garden.
- Missing plants: If you see missing plants or parts of a plant, there’s a chance there are squirrels in your garden. Aside from the fact that they love to munch on plants, they unearth young potted plants in their quest to bury nuts.
- Munched-on seed-heads: Squirrels are crazy about nuts. These are perhaps their favorite food. So, if you see half-eaten or munched-on seeds around your garden, squirrels are possibly causing it.
- Lots of Squirrels: Obviously if you are constantly observing squirrels in your garden you know that they are becoming a problem.
How Do You Repel Squirrels Naturally?
Squirrels may look fluffy and cute, but not everyone wants them in their garden. Aside from wreaking havoc, squirrels also contribute to the spread of salmonella infection and fleas. If you’re going to get rid of them naturally, here are some items you can easily find in your home to ward off these creatures.
- Apple cider vinegar spray: The strong odor of pure apple cider vinegar will repel squirrels. You can spray some around flower pots, your trees, and the perimeter of the garden. This is one of the best options in warding off squirrels without harming them or your plants.
- Mulching: Anecdotal reports suggest squirrels don’t find mulch appealing. Try to add some to your soil, flower pots, and plant beds. This should discourage the squirrels from digging them up.
- Heavy stones: Add heavy stones on your flower pots, around the trees, and plants that are hard for squirrels to move. Aside from heavy stones, gravel is an excellent option.
- Motion sensor sprinklers: Sprinklers scare squirrels away. Try using one to protect your garden while watering your plants at the same time.
- Your dog: If you have a dog that behaves well outside, you can let him/her stay in your garden to scare the squirrels away.
- Human hair: This a great trick and is very easy to do. Simply place human or dog hair in areas where the squirrels usually go. The scent from the hair will work to scare the squirrels, making them think that a human is closeby. Another option is to get human hair from salons.
- Mint: Having pots of fresh mint around your garden is another potential way to repel squirrels naturally. The strong smell from the mint should discourages these furry animals from entering a garden.
How Can You Trap Squirrels?
If there’s only a moderate population of squirrels in your garden, you can consider trapping them. There are lots of effective traps on the market to choose from, depending on your preference and needs.
Whether humane or lethal, there’s a variety of traps to choose from. Live bait traps are the most humane traps you can use to catch squirrels.
Tips When Trapping Squirrels
- Before trapping a squirrel, research the laws in your area first. There are areas where it is legal to trap and kill a squirrel, while some states prohibit this.
- Without the right bait, catching a squirrel may not be as successful as you hoped it would be. Nuts, bread, marshmallows, and sweet citrus fruits are the top squirrel baits to use.
- You don’t necessarily have to wait for the best time, especially if you need to get rid of squirrels right away. However, it pays to know that the best time to trap these animals is either in late spring or early winter. These times prevent you from allowing squirrels to breed around your home and separate a mother squirrel from her young.
- Place a heavy object on top of the trap to prevent it from tipping over. You can also anchor the trap. Squirrels are energetic animals and when trapped can move the trap by moving around in it frantically. They can also learn to tip traps over and steal the bait. Don’t allow squirrels to outsmart you!
What to Do with a Trapped Squirrel
Here are some helpful tips on what to do once you’ve trapped a squirrel:
- Don’t release it near your house: Squirrels have a great sense of smell, and they can find their way back to the nuts or other food they buried in your garden.
- Release them in the wild far from your place (at least 5 miles away): Releasing them in the woods will provide them with what they need to survive, such as water, food, and shelter. It is also an excellent opportunity for them to live normally in their natural habitat.
- Release them at night: Releasing the squirrels in the dark will disorient them and discourage them from returning.
- Release them during a more favorable season: If it’s avoidable, don’t relocate during the winter. There’s a good chance squirrels will starve if left in an unknown territory and have a hard time locating food during cold seasons.
- Make sure to disinfect the trap after each use: Apply a bleach solution mixed with water all over the trap. Wait 20 minutes before wiping it down. Squirrels are known to carry many types of diseases, so you want to make sure you’ve thoroughly disinfected the trap before using it again.
How Do You Repel Squirrels Using Chemicals?
A quick way to repel squirrels from your garden is to use liquid repellents. Spray these onto surfaces where squirrels go to, such as around trees, lawns, bird feeders, around plant pots, and soil. You can also sprinkle granular repellents around your garden to prevent them from entering.
Luckily, there are many companies today that sell sprays specially designed to repel squirrels from the garden. It’s also comforting to know that most of these products are natural, in case you don’t want to use synthetic or chemical-laden sprays (Important if the plants in your garden are meant to be eaten).
Before you invest in a pest-control spray, make sure to do your research. You don’t want to waste time nor your money. Check how effective the product is: Either based on reviews online or perhaps from people you know who have already tried it. Another critical thing to check is whether the product can harm your plants.
Lastly, check if your chosen spray is harmful or toxic to pets and children. If your goal is to simply repel squirrels, make sure the spray you use won’t harm them and kill them and the other pets you have at home. Opt for products that are humane and non-toxic. If these prove to not be strong enough we searching for a pest control company who has experience in your area.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Squirrels
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders, and this means they can damage almost everything they can reach or dig into. Aside from their appetite, they are very curious animals. This behavior is not only irritating for gardeners, but the repairs can get costly, too.
While there are many ways to ward squirrels off, here are some other tips to keep them away from your garden:
- Maintain order and cleanliness in your garden and other exterior parts of the house. If your garden or backyard is always clean and free of unnecessary stuff, squirrels will be less attracted to your property because of the lack of spaces to hide.
- If your garden has an abundance of food sources for squirrels, you can’t blame them for coming back. Make it a habit to remove fallen nuts, fruits, and flowers from your garden. Doing so will significantly reduce the presence of squirrels in your backyard.
- Seal your trash cans or put something heavy on top of them to make it difficult for the squirrels to open. Metal trash cans are a great option as they have tight covers.
- Trim your trees and hanging branches that can easily attract squirrels. Cutting off branches close to your house will also prevent them from entering your home.
- For your plant and flower boxes, you can use a wired fence to protect them from squirrels.
- Aside from removing their food source, another vital step to get rid of squirrels is not to feed them intentionally. It can be exciting or cute to feed these animals but keep in mind that any animal that gets accustomed to the convenience is more likely come back. In addition, it’s interesting to know that squirrels can communicate food sources to other squirrels, so expect more of them next time if you keep feeding them.
- Use special bird feeders that can’t easily be accessed by squirrels. If the number of squirrels in your area is significant, consider not feeding birds altogether.
- For your flowers, you can put a net cover over the flower beds to prevent squirrels from damaging them. This may not look aesthetically pleasing, but at least you get to protect your flowers.
- For 24-hour protection from squirrels, you can try ultrasonic repellers. These will spook the squirrels away from your garden.
When Should You Call a Professional to Get Rid of Squirrels?
If you can’t get rid of the squirrels yourself, and none of the natural methods work, it’s perhaps time you call the experts. Aside from the assurance that the squirrels will no longer bother you, here are some benefits of calling a pest control expert:
- Every state has different laws regarding wildlife removal and relocation. A pro will do it the right way and within the laws of your state.
- Most pest control services will visit your home on a given schedule to check and reset traps.
- In some states, squirrels are considered wild game and you are not allowed to kill them. Pros know how to catch squirrels without harming them and would know where to release them.
For an easy way to get in contact with a professional check our our exterminator search tool.
What Do Squirrels Like to Eat?
Squirrels are not picky eaters. They’re also curious animals, which is why they’ll try just about anything they find. However, they mostly prefer nuts, fruits, flowers, vegetables, plants, and insects. To help manage and safeguard your garden better, get to know what these creatures like to eat.
- Fruits: Squirrels love to munch on fruits. Aside from their delicious taste, fruits give them enough sugar and energy to keep them moving around foraging for food. They’re also great climbers, so reaching for these sweet edibles is not a problem. Squirrels eat a variety of fruiting trees, such as grapes, kiwi, pears, avocados, apples, nectarines, plums, peaches, figs, citrus, and mangoes. Berries are also very appealing to squirrels. They won’t hesitate to munch on strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, raspberries, and more. If you have watermelons, bananas, and cherries in your garden, expect to attract these furry animals.
- Vegetables: Squirrels like a variety of vegetables, so if you have some in your garden, expect squirrel action. They will chow down on leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, spinach, chard, or arugula. Other tasty vegetable offerings are also appealing to them, such as corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, peas, eggplant, carrots, cabbage, celery, and others.
- Cereals: While you won’t normally have cereals in your garden, make sure not to leave any behind when eating outdoors. Squirrels like cereals mainly for the grains and nuts incorporated in some cereal brands. These little creatures won’t hesitate to forage in your trash bins if they smell cereals in them.
- Cheese: Another food that you wouldn’t keep in your garden is cheese. Just the same, make sure not to leave any behind when dining outdoors. This includes leftover cheese in tossed kitchen scraps, sandwiches, or pasta. Squirrels have a keen taste for the food they like, including cheese. They’ll happily munch on chunks of mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, and other types of cheese. Cheese gives squirrels extra fat to store during the wintertime.
- Nuts: If there is one food squirrels go mad about, it’s nuts. If your garden has plenty of nut trees, you can easily catch squirrels bustling around with a nut or two. Aside from their natural preference to nuts, they like to stash them away for eating later on. Squirrels will munch on walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pine cones, and others. Nuts aren’t just tasty treats for squirrels, but they’re a good source of protein for the little creatures.
- Birdseed: If you have birds in your garden or backyard, it pays to know that there’s another creature that likes to feast on your birdseed. Even when birds are present, squirrels will happily join them and stuff their bellies with the readily available snacks. Birdseed has a good mix of nuts, grains, and seeds, making it very appealing.
- Insects: Squirrels are open-minded and flexible when it comes to food. If fruits and vegetables are not available, resorting to insects is not an issue. A squirrel will resort to eating small insects to satisfy their need for protein. Squirrels will eat grasshoppers, winged bugs, crickets, larvae, and butterflies.
- Plant material: Squirrels will get their little paws on leaves, grass, and roots. Anything plant material with nutrients is an excellent food source for them. Squirrels prefer the tender or young part of the plants. These include soft twigs, young stalks of plants, soft tips of leaves, and flower buds. As mentioned, squirrels love nuts, so expect them to eat flower seeds, too, such as poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and others. It’s also not a surprise that squirrels will chew on flowers, from the bulbs to the petals.
- Scrap and waste: Squirrels would eat just about anything and from anywhere — and this includes your scraps. Next time you take out your trash, make sure not to leave any leftover food or food waste. Squirrels won’t hesitate foraging inside trash bins to look for food to feast on. They also have a great sense of smell, so trash bins full of leftover food will easily attract them.
- Dog and cat food: A squirrel’s love for food doesn’t just end with scraps and leftovers, they’re opportunistic eaters that will eat even dog and cat food and will most likely come back for more. If you’re keeping the dog or cat food in your garden, this will attract hungry squirrels.
What Food and Plants Do Squirrels Hate?
At this point, you may be wondering if there is anything squirrels don’t eat or hate to eat. While they will munch on just about anything, there are a few things that squirrels actually don’t prefer.
Food: Squirrels won’t eat raw onions and raw garlic. They also don’t prefer hot peppers, such as Anaheim peppers, jalapeños, and serrano peppers. Aside from what they don’t like to eat, there are also food items that they shouldn’t eat. These include dairy products, such as candies, chocolate, and processed food.
Plants: Squirrels are persistent scavengers and will dig holes in your garden to eat your plants whenever possible. They dig holes in search of food or to bury the food they have. Either way, it’s a nuisance for gardeners. Fortunately, there are some plants that squirrels don’t like. These plants repel them. If you have these plants in your garden, they will do you good in keeping these animals away.
- Daffodils: Squirrels don’t like the taste and smell of daffodils. These plants can also deter rabbits and deer.
- Alliums: Because squirrels don’t like onions, they also don’t like any other relatives of this family, including alliums. This plant has a strong odor that repels squirrels.
- Fritillaries: These plants also have a strong scent that squirrels don’t like.
- Galanthus: Galanthus are statement plants that add drama to your garden and can repel squirrels with their strong scent.
In general, squirrels don’t like plants that have a strong odor or scent. If you have a lot of these types of plants, you can easily repel squirrels away from your garden.
Squirrels may look cute and friendly, but it’s a fact that they can be a big nuisance to garden owners if left unchecked. As the opportunistic feeders they are, they won’t hesitate to try to eat whatever they can get their little paws on. Add to that how they will continue to dig holes in your garden to bury their food. To spare you from the trouble and annoyance, follow these helpful tips and steps on how repelling squirrels from your garden and, hopefully, keep them away for good.