keep squirrels out of garden

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Garden and Away From Plants

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If you’re curious about how to keep squirrels out of the garden, you’ve come to the right place.

Squirrels are cute, bushy-tailed critters who can entertain us when we’re at the park or sitting in our backyard. But they can be quite a nuisance to your garden! They often seek out juicy fruits and veggies or are attracted to the sweet aroma of your flowers. Sometimes, they even just want to make a mess. 

Not sure if it’s squirrels that are messing up your garden? No matter what you have in your garden or how many squirrels you may have, we have compiled some essential tips to protect your garden from squirrels. 

What Attracts Squirrels to the Garden?

A squirrel’s curiosity and mischievousness are almost unmatched especially when it comes to seeking out places rich with food sources. 

If your garden includes lots of juicy fruits and vegetables such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, etc., then squirrels will most likely find their way over to that feast. 

Normally during dry seasons, these critters are more likely to seek out your fruit and vegetable supply since they are lacking that hydration. 

In addition to seeking out hydration and tasty produce, squirrels also have a keen sense of smell. In other words, those spring bulbs, fresh produce, and flowers are attracting these animals. 

Finally, if you tend to have a lot of nuts and seeds littering your yard, squirrels will come in and forage, causing them to raid your trees and gardens. 

Sometimes, however, squirrels just want to be a bit destructive. Often, there are times where squirrels dig holes in planters and pots without touching anything. Or, they take just one bite out of a tomato and leave it to rot in the garden bed.

Whatever the reason for a squirrel’s visit, we have compiled a guide addressing how to keep squirrels from digging in flower pots and messing up your garden.

deter squirrels

How Do You Stop Squirrels From Eating Your Garden?

Your fruit and vegetable harvest is valuable, but how do you protect it from bushy-tailed critters like squirrels? Take a look at some ways to protect your garden produce and flora. 

Individually Wrap Your Produce

If you want to go the extra mile to protect your fruits and vegetables, you might want to consider individually wrapping your produce. In other words, purchasing bird netting will properly protect your fragile, still-growing food without jeopardizing its growing process.  

Plastic Netting or Mulch

Plastic netting or mulch creates an irritating texture for a squirrel’s feet. They don’t like to feel unnatural terrain that much. These two materials can be placed around your flowers or produce to help deter the critters from eating your garden.


Graven is another preventative measure to protect your garden. This material works similarly to plastic netting and mulch in that it creates an uneven, shifting foundation for squirrels to walk on. They will most likely avoid areas with loose gravel. 

Create an Enclosure

You can create an enclosure around your garden from all sorts of materials. For example, you can situate chicken wire or floating row covers around your plants to keep squirrels out. 


A greenhouse is probably the most effective method of deterring squirrels from eating your garden. Greenhouses give you the ability to completely seal off your plants if you desire, thus securing your plants and keeping the squirrels out. 

A Squirrel Feeding/Watering Station

Although this method is controversial, it still might be one that you want to try. Squirrels go crazy for different nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds or even berries. Setting up a feeding station at the far corner of your yard (far away from your garden) might distract the squirrels on their way in.

Additionally, as mentioned prior, squirrels seek out some extra liquid during dry seasons. Placing a water dish near that food source might do the trick as well. However, providing these extra sources of food for the squirrels might end up attracting more, so make sure you are monitoring squirrel activity closely. 

What Do Squirrels Hate the Most?

Here are some best ways to repel squirrels: 

Netting to Deter Squirrels From Garden

If you’re looking for what to put around plants to keep squirrels away, netting will most likely do the trick at keeping squirrels out of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Different netting materials create dissatisfactory textures for squirrels. Most often, they will get frustrated and leave if presented with various netting. 

Some popular netting options to consider are the following:

  • Chicken wire
  • Hardwire cloth
  • Plastic bird netting
  • Summer weight row covers
  • Floating row covers

With any of these netting options, it is imperative to remember to bury the netting deep into the ground. Squirrels have the ability to dig and burrow, so securing these materials in a way that discourages squirrels from digging is important.

Garden Cage to Keep Squirrels out of Your Vegetable Garden

Garden cages, like greenhouses, are more effective at keeping critters out of your harvest. There are many different sizes of garden cages to choose from depending on your plant height and width. 

Most larger cages are zip-ups, meaning that the enclosure flap opens and closes through a zipper. If this is the case, make sure that the zipper is firmly locked and hasn’t broken off to prevent the flap from opening. 

There are smaller, pop-up options for smaller crops. If this is the case, make sure the small cage is firmly secured on the ground to prevent digging or knocking over from the critters. 

Animal Urine

A common theme among squirrel deterrents is strong smells. Deer, coyote, or other animal urine is an effective way to keep squirrels far away from your yard. We will cover more smells that squirrels hate later, but for now, let’s take a look at animal urine. 

Squirrel noses are extremely sensitive, so pungent smells (although not as pungent to our noses) like deer urine makes them turn up their noses. Predator urine is most effective as it warns squirrels of nearby danger. 

Reflective Surfaces

Aluminum foil is perfect for keeping squirrels out of your garden pots and containers. Squirrels hate reflective surfaces. To employ the use of aluminum foil in your garden, simply place a sheet or two over the soil of your potted or container plant (making a hole for your plant to poke through) and poke small holes throughout the surface for watering. 

Squirrel Fence Spikes

Placing fence spikes on the fence around your garden or your yard, in general, will help deter these critters. Make sure to look for spikes that are situated close together. Squirrels are incredibly agile, smart creatures and will find a way around the spikes if there is room for them to step.

Electronic Devices

Common electronic devices that deter critters usually trigger various sounds or flashing lights. For example, there are certain devices that emit ultrasonic sound waves to scare squirrels off. Additionally, there are devices that trigger flashing lights or mimic predator eyes. I would suggest ultrasonic soundwave devices as they are more effective during the day as well as at night. 

Keeping Squirrels Out of Garden Naturally

Not a fan of electronic devices or crude barriers around your garden? No worries! Here are some natural alternatives for squirrel deterrents. 

Impalpable Bulbs

Squirrels hate bitterness! Planting bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops, ornamental alliums, or fritillaria will have the squirrels turning away from your garden. These bulbs also have a specific smell that turns the squirrels’ noses up. Planting these squirrel repellent plants around and throughout your other plants will keep the squirrels away. 

Plant Borders 

Similar to the bulbs listed above, you can create a natural border that acts as a wall for the squirrels. Border plants such as mustard or marigolds are beautiful natural alternatives due to their fragrance. 

Cleaning Up Bulb & Nut Debris

An overlooked practice within the garden is not picking up fallen nuts, seeds, or bulb debris around the yard. When it comes to scraps of spring bulbs, squirrels smell them on the soil and are attracted to your garden. Therefore, try to prevent setting these spring bulbs directly on the soil when you’re planting them. 

If nuts and seeds are left on the ground, squirrels will have a field day of munching and eating in your garden. Although not the most fun method, it’s important to keep your garden clear of this debris. 

Trim Tree Limbs

Squirrels have incredible jump height and distance. If you want to avoid squirrels getting to your standing bird feeders, jumping on your roof, or having easier access to your garden, trim your tree limbs back. Alternatively, you can keep some of your garden beds or bird feeders at least 8-10 feet away from your trees. 

Avoid Placing Bird Feeders by Tress & Your Roof

As mentioned previously, squirrels can jump high and far. If you have bird feeders in your backyard, avoid placing them in your trees, close to your trees, or close to your roof. To estimate, keep the feeder 8-10 feet away from your roof or tree limbs and 5-6 feet off the ground (hanging bird feeder). 

See more: How to keep squirrels off bird feeders

Cats, Dogs, Hawks, or Owls

If you’ve got an outdoor cat or dog, they are perfect protectors for your garden. You can either train them to chase squirrels away (cats usually don’t need the training) or just let them out in the yard to patrol. 


How to Stop Squirrels from Eating Your Plants?

Although squirrels are cute and entertaining to watch, you don’t want them to destroy and eat up your garden. Therefore, it is important to employ the power of strong smells such as coffee grounds, mint, or even chili peppers or cayenne pepper. Don’t want certain smells in your garden? Then garden cages, netting, or letting your cat or dog chase these critters away works just as well.

If you’d like more information about the population patterns of squirrels, their active timeframes, or even their biology, check out this article on the common gray squirrel or this article on more tips and tricks to deter squirrels based on their characteristics.

No matter your preferred method of a deterrent, we’ve got you covered. Try out some various smells or physical deterrents to protect your garden.

How to keep squirrels out of tomatoes?

Tomatoes are one of a squirrel’s favorite snacks, especially in the dry season. Because of that, your tomato garden is more at risk. 

As stated before, it will be worth it to individually wrap your tomatoes in bird netting. This netting is unpleasant to squirrels and will discourage them from biting through the netting. You can also put a secure cage around your tomatoes as well. 

You can also buy a commercial chili pepper spray or make one at home to deter squirrels and other critters. To make one at home, make sure to mix the chili pepper with some water to dilute it, but not too much. Make sure to wash your tomatoes off the chili pepper before you eat them as well. Finally, you can purchase raptor nests for hawks or owls to nest in and keep those squirrels away.

How to keep squirrels out of garden pots? 

Squirrels love messing up garden pots. Some evidence you can find to determine whether or not a squirrel has been in a garden pot is small holes in the soil, ripped up plants, or soil spilled over the pot. 

One of the more effective methods is laying a layer of aluminum foil over the surface of the soil. Measure a hole to allow your plant to poke through, then poke smaller holes for wiring. You can also purchase chew-proof netting to settle over the plant or lay some mulch or gravel on top of the plant’s soil.

What smells deter squirrels?

There are many smells that deter squirrels because of their heightened senses. Here is a list of a few smells that will keep squirrels away from your garden.

  • Coyote Urine
  • Essential oils such as peppermint, geranium, or clove – you can soak cotton balls in the essential oil and place them in small trays or jars around your garden
  • Mint
  • Grape Hyacinths
  • Irish Spring Soap
  • Chopped garlic mixed with water and vinegar
  • Chili Peppers
  • Foliar Spray – foliar spray consists of a small bottle of Tabasco, a gallon of water, and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. You can spray this on your fence or around your plants.

Do coffee grounds keep squirrels away? 

Coffee grounds do keep squirrels away. While it creates a pleasant scent for us, squirrels find it extremely bitter. 

Will mothballs keep squirrels away?

Some people might use mothballs to irritate squirrels. However, this strong odor will fade after a few weeks, so we would suggest using other natural methods above for the best outcome.

How to keep squirrels out of raised garden beds?

You can use livestock panels such as goat panels with 4-inch square openings or smaller and place it on top of the soil to stop squirrels from digging big holes. Alternatively, you can use hardware cloth with small squared holes between ½-1 inch apart as a physical barrier to protect the seeds and seedlings, but you will need to remove them at some point once the plants grow bigger.

Final words

Some people might use squirrel traps to keep these animals under control. You can also check our guide on how to get rid of squirrels for more information.

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*image by Wirestock&PantherMediaSeller/depositphotos

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