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How to Keep Squirrels (& Other Intruders) Out of the Garden!

Man gardening in urban backyard

The physical activity or meditative qualities that gardening provides are enjoyed by young and old alike. Gardens and potted plants are often a celebration of vegetables, herbs, fruit, flowers, and other plant life. However, achieving one’s garden goals requires a concerted effort to keep squirrels out of the garden or potted plants, as well as a variety of other pests who are equally intrusive. Even in fenced gardens, it is necessary to know how to deter squirrels to avoid finding a bite that’s already been taken out of this year’s first beautiful tomato.

Whether you are a first-year or longtime gardener, figuring out how to keep bugs and hungry animals away is essential. Especially for squirrels with their ability to gnaw through wire or the smaller flying squirrels that can squeeze through narrow gaps, how can one keep squirrels out of the garden and potted plants? Although there are many chemical deterrents available, these options can be harmful to you, your emerging (and hard-won!) vegetables, beneficial insects that actually help your plants, and potentially even your pets or family members. After all, many people grow their own food specifically to reduce the amount of pollutants that find a way into the food they consume. Fortunately, there are several natural and often cheap options for repelling invasive bugs and animals as included below.

Option #1: Repurpose Kitchen Waste

An assortment of kitchen waste

While you might have been putting many of these items in your existing compost pile or garbage, it’s time to save your egg shells, coffee grounds, old black pepper or cayenne, or citrus rinds! Many animals and bugs, including squirrels, dislike encountering these items in and around the garden patch. For example, coffee grounds and cayenne can be placed outside of a garden bed to ward off any harmful explorers. Many blends of water and cayenne or other peppers can also be sprayed around gardens or on the outside of pots. Though many of them can be cute, many garden destroyers have a very refined sense of smell, which makes strong odors ideal to use in planning how to deter squirrels, baby bunnies, and more.

Another great option for deterring pests is to plant garlic or use a garlic spray, which may be an even more effective choice for how to keep squirrels out of your garden. While many of us may double or even triple recipe recommendations for this tasty, fragrant ingredient, squirrels feel otherwise about this potent garden produce. To make a spreadable or sprayable garlic blend, mix chopped garlic with vinegar and water and let the mixture sit for a few days. Then, spray the garlic mixture around your garden, including fencing or stakes, or on plant pots. Protect what you’ve nurtured against squirrels and other animals with the strong scent of this natural pest remedy.

Option #2: Try the Soap Trick

Two pieces of soap on a background of textured fabric

A tried and true trick for many years, soap is one Farmer’s Almanac method that continues to prove effective at keeping squirrels and other animals out of gardens. Helpful for more than a refreshing hand washing session after a day of planting and weeding, Irish Spring soap can be cut into small chunks and placed into a few small breathable pouches to locate around the garden. With flowers that won’t be eaten, some people even shave the soap directly around the plants. No matter which approach you prefer to deter squirrels from your plants or flower pots, the strong scent of this soap should repel these critters and many others!

Option #3: Create a Physical Barrier to Keep Animals Out

Garden with wire fencing to keep animals out

When determining how to keep squirrels out of a garden or any other animals you’ve seen hanging around it, a strong physical barrier is the perfect defense. Minimally, you should establish a barrier around the perimeter of the garden using materials like hardwire cloth, chicken wire, or a wooden fence. There are also a number of structural options that provide even more complete protection around and even over a garden, which might be especially crucial for flying squirrels and other pests such as birds or even the ambitious neighborhood cat! There are also squirrel fence spikes that can be added to your construction, as these are specifically designed to keep squirrels away with their pointed spikes. Without causing harm to the animals, these spikes are simply an additional choice of tool, as you contemplate how to deter squirrels from damaging your garden!

Option #4: Use Plants to Keep Bugs Away From a Garden

gardener planting lavender in their garden

Although not all bugs should be welcome in the garden, many types of insects actually benefit its health and growth. For example, good bugs, like wasps, actually feed on the bugs that damage crops. When you are asking yourself about how to keep bugs away from your garden, consider inviting the helpful insects to visit by including plants in or around your garden or in pots that attract them. Queen Anne’s Lace, Butterfly Weed, parsley, carrots and chamomile are all known to attract wasps and other beneficial insects that will protect your garden.

Planting insect-repelling flowers and herbs also helps keep pests out of gardens. Marigolds are a well-known deterrent and work on a variety of pests, like mosquitoes and rabbits. Other herbs like lavender, basil, mint, and lemongrass keep bugs away from your garden and add flavor or flair to meals or to aromatherapy blends and teas. Like garlic, onions also keep animals away!

Option #5: Wield the Power of Sparkle, Sound, and Surprise

Motion Sensor Sprinkler in Garden

In thinking about how to keep squirrels and other animals (or maybe even that inquisitive neighbor) out of the garden, consider embracing the “sparkle, sound, and surprise” approach. Shiny objects, chimes, looming figures like plastic owls, or motion-sensor sprinklers can suggest the presence of danger or make unexpected noise which startles the animals and stops them from getting too close to your garden or potted plants. For example, the alarming sound and spray of water will deter skittish squirrels or birds away from your garden, which will keep your crops safe (and watered)!

If you have ever had emerging seedlings disappear or seen the remnants of a flower in bloom thrown carelessly aside, you know that garden pests, like squirrels, are damaging and frustrating to encounter. Creating a bountiful garden or stunning arrays of potted flowers requires hard work and diligent care, so it is hard to witness the destruction that squirrels, insects, and other intruders can cause. As you explore the listed options and others in order to determine how to keep squirrels out of your garden, as well as other common pests, also consider using a combined approach, like fencing and sprays or soap and herb additions. With planning and vigilance, you’ll be on your way to keeping your garden safe from even the most fearless squirrel!

If your efforts have been so successful that any of these garden trouble-makers start to make their way into your home, call the pest control and extermination experts at Eliminate’Em for help! We offer squirrel removal and animal control to keep your garden, your potted plants, your pets, and your family safe! Contact your local Eliminate’ Em team 24/7 on any day of the year for Connecticut, New York, western Massachusetts and Rhode Island pest removal today!