Squirrels are generally harmless. They will stay out of your way and won’t attack your garden unless it has their favorite food. I would advise letting them be especially if they are not raiding your garden or store. However, you have to protect your food supply whenever you see signs of damage from these otherwise adorable creatures.
Signs that You Have Squirrels in Your Garden
The squirrels can run and forage as much as they want out there, as long as they don’t get into your garden or food storage. Finding the squirrel in the act of feasting on your garden is the easiest way to ascertain that you are dealing with them. Good thing is they are conspicuous and hard to confuse with something else.
Here are the most common signs to look for when making rounds in the garden.
Bite Marks on Fruits
Squirrels love fruits. They will either eat them in place or carry them off to their burrows. Look for nibbling on fruits like tomatoes and plants like squash, beans and eggplants. They can eat the entire fruit or just bite on morsels before running away.
They will rarely eat leafy vegetables but the effect will be the same if they decide to change diet. You will find leaves lying on the ground if a squirrel was around looking for fruits, sees and leaves.
Damaged or Missing Plants
The entire process of foraging for food puts a lot of strain on plants. They might have to climb up a plant or chew unwanted pieces that are in the way. This will cause visible damage.
If they want to save up for harder times, they will drag away portions of the plant to store or burry.
Nibbled at Seeds
If you have seed bearing plants like sunflowers, squirrels will burst open the outer shell to consume the inside of the seed. They can also do the same to corn and target the endosperm.
Another popular signs of squirrels in the garden is shallow digging. They mostly do this to burrow and hide any nuts they gather through the day for future consumption. The process will unearth and damage your plants even if the nuts they are burying are not from the garden.
Partially Consumed Flowers
While they rarely eat leaves and flowers, squirrels really like daisy blooms. They will eat the petals and the center disc of the flower as it is their favorite part.
How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden
Keeping the critters off your precious garden involves hiding or moving away their food or finding a way to repel them.
What is the Best Way to Repel Squirrels?
Luckily, there are many natural squirrel deterrents to the extent that you don’t need to capture or kill them. Here are some of the most popular approaches that work like a charm.
Getting a Dog
A patrolling dog will definitely scare squirrels out of your garden even if it won’t catch them. Dogs are natural predators and squirrels can tell it. A couple of chases from the dog are enough to make squirrels move away from your garden or the immediate neighborhood.
Cats can also get the job done.
Moreover, they won’t dig up the garden to store nuts since they will no longer consider it a safe haven.
If you don’t have small animals like rabbits or chicken (which are perfect animals for first-time farmers), you can actively attract bird predators like hawks or owls to scare them away. Otherwise, invest in owl or hawk-like decorations to confuse them.
Startling the squirrels constantly is another way to keep them on the edge. Like most small rodents, they are always on the lookout and will scamper at the slightest noise they can’t explain.
Throwing in some motion activated sprinklers or an air horn will keep them scared of your garden. They will think the sprinkler is reacting to their presence and is a true threat to their wellbeing.
Spice Up the Garden with Pepper
Squirrels, like any other animal, don’t find hot spices fun. They will let your plants be if they all taste peppery. Spraying your garden with cayenne pepper or diluted capsaicin will do the trick. Just remember that this will wash away after rain and you’ll have to reapply it.
Though natural and relatively harmless, it also means that you will have to wash your vegies and fruits least you suffer of the same heat you planned for the squirrels.
Grow the Right Companion Plants
Companion plants are natural repellents to pests and rodents. A good organic garden should have a couple that target different pests or rodents that are common in the area. Go for plants like:
Barring Access to the Garden or Plants
Another simple and efficient way to keep squirrels off your garden is by installing a fence around it. A good fence will keep other small rodents and farm animals that might also be out to feast on your crops.
Running chicken wire around the garden should be sufficient. Ensure that you burry almost half a foot of the wire underground so that they don’t dig under it. The squirrels can roam other parts of the farm but won’t harm a garden they can’t get into – or out of.
If you don’t want to use a fence around the entire garden, you can install a barrier on or around specific plants and their beds. You can use:
- Hardware cloth
- Row covers
- Plastic chicken cover
These covers make it harder for them to get to the bulbs or seeds they want. Over time, they will get frustrated and move on to other easy hunting grounds.
Distract the Squirrels and Give Something Else to Eat
If you are a nature loving pacifist, you can always give squirrels another safe haven other than your garden. While this might attract more of them onto your property, it could work if you have a lot of space and set up the attractions a good distance from your garden.
- Feed the squirrels by setting up a feeder with their favorites like sunflower seeds and nuts
- Add water points to keep them off your juicy tomatoes
This is a win-win solution that keeps everyone happy. Just don’t overdo it. They need to know that the feeding area might have food but doesn’t always deliver. This approach works well if you also have other deterrents keeping them off your main garden.
Does Killing or Trapping Squirrels Work?
Trapping or hunting squirrels might be satisfying especially if they destroyed a good portion of your garden but it just won’t cut. More of them will move in and replace the ones you just took out of the equation.
Check this too: How to Keep Raccoons Out of the Garden
Moreover, your traps might capture mothers separating them from babies that won’t survive alone. This shock alone has made capturing or killing squirrels illegal in many places.
Keeping squirrels from your garden is needs some planning but is efficient once everything falls in place. Since you are keen on setting a self-sustaining garden, focus on combining a couple of deterrents and dissuasion or distraction techniques to keep them off. Only resort to commercial repellents if your natural remedies aren’t good enough.