Four ‘effective’ and ‘homemade’ tricks to deter squirrels from gardens

Four ‘effective’ and ‘homemade’ tricks to deter squirrels from gardens


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While it’s always a treat to see mischievous bushy-tailed squirrels romping in parks and forest glades, they’re a real nuisance in the garden, happily ordering appetisers of growing vegetables and fruit, followed by prized bulbs for dessert. Nuts and berries make for delicious squirrel ready-meals, and they will strip the bark from trees, too, interfering with your most prized garden features. Getting rid of these pests is vital as they can wreak havoc if they get inside your home and here are the best natural ways to get rid of squirrels from the backyard – try a combination for best results.

Lauren Okie, gardening expert at Happy Gardens explained that there are many ways to get rid of squirrels in the garden naturally – from using odours they hate to scaring them and protecting bird feeders. None of these methods will kill or harm squirrels but a combination of the methods will deter them. 

1. Remove things

One of the first steps to keeping squirrels out of your garden will be to remove the things in it that are attracting them in the first place. 

The expert explained: “A combination of both sight and smell will attract squirrels to your garden, including seeds, fallen nuts and fruit, and bulb debris. Clean up these items as quickly as possible, including keeping your bird feeders as tidy as possible.”

Other things like bins, which will hold all the items you are cleaning from the garden, should always have lids that fit securely as squirrels can easily make a home inside.

2. Repel them with scents

Strong smells are a great way to repel squirrels as certain odours make these pests wrinkle their noses. 

They’re said to dislike the scent of coffee grounds and peppermint, or gardeners could make up their own recipe with vinegar, garlic and onions or peppermint oil to spray in the garden. 

Lauren said: “There are a handful of effective tricks and homemade recipes you can create to repel squirrels from your garden. 

“Many recipes call for ingredients such as hot peppers (such as cayenne pepper or chilli peppers), apple cider vinegar, peppermint oil, coffee grounds, or some combination of them all.

“If you’re opting for this method for keeping squirrels from your garden, make sure you are always reapplying after rainfall. 

“Also, be careful not to spray any plants you intend to eat yourself. The cayenne pepper or apple cider vinegar can make for an unpleasant surprise.”

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3. Scaring them

According to the expert, having a pet not only adds entertainment for you but can also help to discourage squirrels from making a home out of gardens. 

If you don’t have a dog, Lauren suggested: “It might be time to reconsider the option. Most dogs and cats have curiosity in the little critters alone will likely be enough to scare them away and prevent any squirrel damage.

“If you don’t have a pet, you can consider purchasing predator urine to spread in your garden soil. While it might seem strange to buy predator pee, it can prove to help significantly with your squirrel problem. 

“The smell from larger natural predators is enough to scare all kinds of smaller animals and rodents.”

Other scare tactics to help keep gardens safe would be to install motion-activated sprinklers, hanging old CDs, or placing pinwheels to help discourage digging.

4. Keep squirrels out of bird feeders

The favourite food of squirrels also happens to be what birds love to eat as well. As such, it can be difficult to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.

Lauren suggested elevating bird feeders. She said: “In general, a squirrel will not jump more than five feet up off the ground. They will not jump more than seven feet across and they will not jump down more than nine feet from above. 

“If you can find a safe space to hang a bird feeder that checks all the boxes of the 5-7-9 rule, you may have some success keeping squirrels from reaching your bird feeder.”

Another tip is to use wire to hang up bird feeders as squirrels are too big to walk on vertically-positioned wire, so they’ll have to jump up and down it instead. 

The expert added: “If you can suspend bird feeders at least nine or ten feet from a pole and at least five feet above ground, you should keep squirrels away.

“You can use whatever wire you wish, as long as it’s durable and safe. Visit your local hardware store to find out what type of wire is best for the climate you live in.”

Bird-feeder poles can be smeared with petroleum jelly to discourage squirrels from climbing up them. 

If the feeder is suspended, placing plastic pipe around the supporting wire will prevent squirrels climbing down to the feeder.

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