squirrel starring at you on wooden fence with the words you're cute but gotta go on the image

Gardening Tips: How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Yard

Squirrels can be very cute creatures to watch as they eat acorns and play, but when gardening there is another side to the squirrel: They can be really annoying. Why? After spending time planting your bulbs and setting up your potted plants, you may find them dug up the next morning! During this time of year, squirrels are busier than ever because they're prepping their food stashes for the colder winter months.

Despite their destructive nature, squirrels still are animals that don't deserve to be killed by harmful chemicals. So, what can you do? Here are some helpful gardening tips to protect your plants and kindly shoo your fluffy-tailed neighbors goodbye.

Squirrel standing in a garden surrounded by purple flowers

How to Keep Squirrels Away When Gardening

Squirrels love digging in flowerpots to bury their cache of food, such as nuts and acorns, to enjoy later in the winter. Unfortunately, your soft gardening soil is a prime digging preference and they are highly likely to be starting a digging fest in your backyard. No shrubs are safe from your garden either.

Despite a commonly believed myth, most squirrels do not actually hibernate. They can actually rely on their fat reserves to make it through the cold, harsh winters, as well as the treats they saved in your flowerpots.

Here are four gardening tips to discourage squirrels from wreaking havoc on your yard:

  • Protect Your Plants: If you notice they’re digging up your flower bulbs, try discouraging the squirrels by spreading some mulch. This can be a helpful way to deter them from your seedlings. Also remember to cover your plants. Try using fencing or chicken wire to keep your garden safe from their little mischievous hands.
  • Use Homemade Sprays: Mix something smelly and spicy in the soil to keep the squirrels away. Try making a home brew spray with a combination of strong flavors like cayenne, crushed red pepper, vinegar, peppermint oil or garlic to spritz near your plant. Be careful to not spray on plant parts that you intend to eat. 
3 squirrels poking their head out of a single hole
  • Spook Them: Now’s the time to put your Halloween spirit to use and make yourself big and noisy while gardening (or you can take a seat back and ask a dog or cat to do the work for you). Like most rodents, squirrels tend to be skittish. If you let your dog to chase squirrels (which many canines do naturally), this can prevent the pests from settling in your yard. If you don’t have a pet, ask a neighbor’s or find a vial of predator urine from animals like wolves or tigers online. If you were an animal that could detect such a scent, you’d be running too. Or, if you’d prefer another option, place shiny and noisy decorations in your garden. Objects like windmills, spinners, CDs, or reflective objects may make squirrels look at your garden less desirably.
  • Make Changes to Your Bird Feeder: Squirrels are attracted to feeders; they sometimes like to gnaw on the opening to birdhouses so that they can eat the seeds or eat the nesting birds inside. While you’re gardening, start to consider relocating your bird feeders and bird houses far away from points where squirrels can access. You can also try wrapping the pole with disc baffle or some sheet metal to make climbing more difficult. Another way to deter squirrels from your feeders would be by replacing them with Saffron seeds. These critters don’t necessarily like them, but the birds will!
squirrel reaching out his arms in forest

Squirrels can be pesky rodents, but you don’t need to harm them to discourage them from ruining your garden. Use these tips to deter squirrels from interrupting your gardening so that you can cohabitate in peace!

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