How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden: Protecting Your Plants

Michelle Hill

Gardening can be a delightful and fulfilling hobby. The joy of nurturing plants, watching them grow, and eventually reaping the rewards of your efforts is unparalleled. However, one common challenge that many gardeners face is keeping squirrels out of the garden. These mischievous critters can wreak havoc on your plants, digging up bulbs, nibbling on tender shoots, and stealing your hard-earned produce.

How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

If you’re tired of battling squirrels in your garden, fear not! In this article, we’ll explore various strategies and techniques to deter squirrels and protect your beloved plants. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these tips will help you reclaim your garden and keep those pesky squirrels at bay.

1. Understanding Squirrels’ Behavior

Before diving into the methods to deter squirrels, it’s important to understand their behavior. Squirrels are highly curious and agile creatures that are constantly on the lookout for food sources. They have a keen sense of smell, excellent climbing abilities, and can jump long distances. By familiarizing yourself with their behavior patterns, you can devise effective strategies to outsmart them.

Squirrels’ feeding habits

Squirrels are omnivorous creatures and are known to eat a wide variety of foods. While their diet primarily consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries, they are opportunistic feeders and can also eat bird eggs, insects, and even small animals. This adaptability makes them a particularly challenging pest to deal with in the garden.

Types of squirrels

There are several species of squirrels, with the most common being the gray squirrel and the red squirrel. Gray squirrels are larger and more dominant, while red squirrels tend to be smaller and more territorial. Depending on your location, you may encounter different types of squirrels in your garden, each with its own set of behaviors and preferences.

2. Natural Deterrents

One of the first lines of defense against squirrels is to use natural deterrents. These methods are safe for both your plants and the environment. Here are some effective natural deterrents you can try:

Planting squirrel-repellent plants

Squirrels dislike the strong scent of certain plants, and strategically planting them in your garden can help keep the critters away. Some popular squirrel-repellent plants include mint, garlic, marigold, and daffodils. Not only do these plants repel squirrels, but they also add beauty and diversity to your garden.

Using predator scents or urine

Squirrels are wary of predators and tend to avoid areas that smell like them. You can purchase predator urine or scented granules from garden supply stores and sprinkle them around your garden perimeter. This trick can help create the illusion of predators being present, thus deterring squirrels from venturing into your garden.

Adding motion-activated devices

Squirrels are easily startled by sudden movements. Place motion-activated devices, such as sprinklers or ultrasonic repellents, in your garden to startle and deter squirrels. These devices detect movement and emit a burst of water or sound, scaring away the critters without causing them harm.

3. Physical Barriers

If natural deterrents alone don’t suffice, physical barriers can provide an extra layer of protection for your garden. These barriers create obstacles that make it difficult for squirrels to access your plants. Here are some effective physical barriers:

Wire mesh fencing

Enclosing your garden with wire mesh fencing is an effective way to prevent squirrels from entering. The mesh should be small enough to prevent squirrels from squeezing through. Burying the bottom edges of the fencing will further discourage them from digging underneath.

Netting or bird spikes

If squirrels are targeting specific plants or areas in your garden, you can use netting or bird spikes as a barrier. Netting can be draped over plants to prevent squirrels from reaching them, while bird spikes can be placed on ledges or surfaces where squirrels like to perch or access your garden.

Elevated planters and hanging baskets

Squirrels have limited access to plants that are off the ground. By using elevated planters or hanging baskets, you can keep your plants out of squirrels’ reach. Be sure to secure the hanging baskets with squirrel-proof chains or wires to prevent them from being knocked down.

4. Repellents

When natural deterrents and physical barriers aren’t enough, repellents can serve as a powerful tool in deterring squirrels. These typically consist of substances or sprays that emit odors that squirrels find unpleasant. Here are some effective squirrel repellents:

Hot pepper spray

Squirrels have a strong sense of taste, and spicy flavors are particularly unappealing to them. Creating a hot pepper spray by mixing water with cayenne pepper or hot sauce can help deter squirrels. Spray this solution on plants or areas where squirrels are causing trouble.

Garlic or vinegar spray

Similar to hot pepper spray, garlic or vinegar spray can be effective in repelling squirrels. Soak crushed garlic cloves or combine vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then apply it to plants or areas that squirrels frequent. The strong aromas will deter them from venturing near.

Blood meal or predator urine granules

Squirrels are instinctively wary of the smell of blood or predators. Sprinkling blood meal or predator urine granules around your garden can create a barrier that squirrels won’t dare to cross. These products are widely available and can be found at garden centers.

5. Other Tactics

While natural deterrents, physical barriers, and repellents are effective, combining them with other tactics can increase your chances of success. Here are some additional strategies to consider:

Creating a diversion

Squirrels are easily distracted by readily available food sources. By providing a squirrel-friendly feeding station away from your garden, you can redirect their attention and prevent them from targeting your precious plants. Fill a bird feeder with squirrel-friendly treats, such as sunflower seeds, to keep them occupied.

Regular garden maintenance

Keeping your garden clean and tidy can help minimize squirrel activity. Remove fallen fruits, nuts, or other food sources that could attract squirrels. Additionally, regularly check for any potential entry points into your garden, such as gaps in fences or holes in netting, and promptly repair them.

Sound or visual deterrents

Squirrels are sensitive to sound and movement. You can use wind chimes, aluminum foil strips, or reflective surfaces in your garden to create noise and visual disturbances that deter squirrels. These tactics disrupt their comfort and may encourage them to seek a quieter environment elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to keep squirrels out of the garden without harming them?

A: There are several non-lethal methods to deter squirrels from your garden, such as natural deterrents, physical barriers, and repellents. These methods are safe for both the squirrels and your plants.

Q: Do mothballs keep squirrels away?

A: While mothballs contain chemicals that produce strong odors, they are not recommended as a squirrel deterrent. Mothballs are toxic and can be harmful to humans, pets, and the environment. It’s best to opt for safer alternatives.

Q: Will a dog deter squirrels from my garden?

A: Dogs can be effective at keeping squirrels away, as their presence may scare them off. However, it’s important to ensure that your dog is trained not to harm or chase wildlife. Some breeds are more prone to squirrel-chasing behavior than others.

Q: Can planting certain flowers repel squirrels?

A: Yes, certain flowers and plants are known to repel squirrels due to their strong scents or tastes. Planting mint, marigold, daffodils, or garlic can help deter squirrels from your garden.

Q: Are there any specific squirrel-resistant plants?

A: While no plant is entirely squirrel-proof, some are less likely to attract squirrels due to their taste or texture. Examples include daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, and alliums.

Q: What should I do if the squirrel problem persists?

A: If you’ve tried various methods and still struggle with squirrels in your garden, consider consulting a professional wildlife control service. They can provide expert advice and assistance in dealing with persistent squirrel issues.


Keeping squirrels out of the garden can be a challenging task, but with the right strategies and persistence, it is possible to protect your plants and maintain a squirrel-free garden. By understanding squirrels’ behavior, using natural deterrents, implementing physical barriers, utilizing repellents, and combining various tactics, you can reclaim your garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember, each garden is unique, so experiment with different methods and find what works best for you. Happy gardening!

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