Last Updated on May 6, 2022
Squirrels are blessed with cute faces. But there is nothing sweet about the damage they can do to vegetable gardens, bird feeders and buildings. To be fair, squirrels are not evil critters conspiring to destroy your garden – they are just following their natural instincts. For this reason, we looked at all the best ways to humanely keep squirrels off your property. No killing is required.
Table of Contents
- 1. Get a Dog
- 2. Take Away Their Food Sources
- 3. Use Scents They Hate
- 4. Invite Predator Birds
- 5. Surprise The Squirrels
- 6. Love the Plants They Hate
- 7. Add Gravel Where You Can
- 8. Give That Squirrel a Drink
- 9. Secure Your Trash
- 10. Reconsider Your Open Compost Heap
- 11. Predator Urine
- 12. Remove Tree Goodies
- 13. Use a Fake Owl
- 14. Ultrasonic Noisemakers
- 15. Prune Branches
1. Get a Dog
This is a wonderful option if you love animals and actually want a pet. Squirrels are not stupid. They are prey animals and constantly survey their surroundings to make sure that they don’t become lunch! Once they realize that a property has a dog, they will move on to canine-free areas.
A dog’s presence is bad enough but since most dogs will also actively chase squirrels, the latter will quickly realize that your garden is no longer a safe party zone. Any dog is suitable but certain breeds were created specifically to control rodents with gusto. These breeds are called “ratters” and include most small terriers like Jack Russells, Yorkies, and even dachshunds (not a terrier but they were bred to hunt).
2. Take Away Their Food Sources
Food is one of the main reasons why squirrels are eyeballing your property. Do they nibble on your vegetable garden, other plants, bird feeder or steal from the cat’s bowl? Squirrels love easy food sources like this. Worse, they will bring their friends.
Tap into your creative side to find solutions. For vegetables, a greenhouse might offer better protection than an open plot of land. There are bird feeders available that are designed to deter squirrels and all pet food bowls must be kept inside. Alternatively, you can also remove any uneaten food from your pet’s bowl. Leaving the scraps might attract squirrels.
3. Use Scents They Hate
Don’t ever use toxic substances, mace or pepper spray. These “options” can harm the very garden that you are trying to protect – and needless to say, your family and pets can also get hurt. The good news is that squirrels detest the same scents as deer. There are plenty of natural deer repellents that you can use around your property.
This also brings us back to getting a dog. Since your canine companion will walk around the garden and do its business, there will be plenty of “predator scent” that no squirrel will appreciate.
4. Invite Predator Birds
This could be the best option if you don’t want a dog or birdwatching is your hobby. Squirrels are hardwired to keep an eye out for hawks, owls and even crows. If this feathered mob frequents your garden, the rodents are likely to stay away.
Attracting raptors takes time. But you can make things more inviting for them by putting up nesting boxes and perches. It is not advisable to lure them with food because that might attract other animals you don’t want. Also, if you keep small pets outdoors (like small-breed dogs, cats or rabbits), then inviting hawks or owls is not a good idea.
5. Surprise The Squirrels
Don’t worry. You don’t have to hide behind a bush with a squirt gun. There are motion-activated devices available that will do the job for you. Just two examples are water sprinklers and air cans (these products produce a scary blast of air).
6. Love the Plants They Hate
Not in the mood for deer repellent or a new puppy? Then plants might be the army you need to ward off the squirrel invasion. These rodents cannot stand certain plants. Luckily, there are plant species that can not only repel squirrels but are attractive enough to make your garden look great.
Examples include peppermint, marigolds, nasturtiums, mustard, lily of the valley, geraniums, allium, garlic, daffodils, and hyacinths.
7. Add Gravel Where You Can
Squirrels don’t particularly like the feeling of gravel or wet mulch. Add these to your garden beds and vegetable patch. This could reduce the chances of a squirrel taking a fancy to a tomato or digging up flower bulbs.
8. Give That Squirrel a Drink
This option is perfect if you love watching squirrels but hate the damage they wreak in your veggie patch. Very often, when a squirrel goes for juicy food they might do so out of thirst. Some homeowners have success with this method – they provide a bowl of fresh water for the squirrels and their vegetables show less interference.
9. Secure Your Trash
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and a trash can is a great opportunity. It is crucial to check that bits of trash and food do not pack around the outside of the bin or fall on the ground. Squirrels are adept at getting into things, so make sure that the lid is also securely closed.
10. Reconsider Your Open Compost Heap
Compost heaps consist of a lot of organic bits and bobs. To squirrels that means a free meal. If your compost heap is the local squirrel restaurant, the solution is easy. Instead of nurturing your heap in the old-fashioned open-air way, get a composting bin with a secure lid. These bins can make high-quality compost for your garden without feeding a single squirrel.
11. Predator Urine
This option also circles back to unwelcome scents and the squirrel’s fear of predators. You can purchase repellents that contain predator urine and spray them around your garden and other problem areas. A good product is designed to smell acceptable to humans, so don’t worry that your garden might develop a pee smell.
The plus side? This is an effective technique to banish squirrels – but only for a while. The downside is that the urine will fade or get washed away by rain and needs to be re-applied regularly.
12. Remove Tree Goodies
Squirrels adore fallen nuts and fruit. If you have trees in your garden that drop such snacks, set up a schedule to regularly rake your garden to collect them before it becomes a food source for squirrels. This is a seasonal job so you don’t have to do it all year round!
13. Use a Fake Owl
Are those owls refusing to move into the nesting box that you so kindly provided? Forget them and get a life-like resin owl statue. Squirrels know what raptors look like and a fake one might be enough to scare them. However, make sure that you move the owl around the garden. If the statue stays in the same place every day the squirrels will realize that there is no threat.
14. Ultrasonic Noisemakers
Some people swear by these devices. But the truth is a little different. Ultrasonic noisemakers do work but they are not a permanent solution. Should squirrels react in fear, this effect will not last. As we’ve mentioned before, these furry goobers are highly intelligent and they will learn, in time, that the noise is not dangerous.
15. Prune Branches
If you notice that squirrels are using certain tree branches to gain access to your house, bird feeder or other hot spots, then pruning will bomb those bridges. It can reduce routine damage to your property and discourage the rodents from visiting your garden again.