How to Control Garden Squirrels Organically

Here are some ways to keep garden squirrels away from your plants without using harmful chemicals. Plant squirrel-resistant varieties, use physical barriers, feed the squirrels at a distance, create distractions and natural deterrents.

Contents

Understanding Squirrel Behavior in Gardens

Why Squirrels Are Attracted to Gardens

Squirrels are fascinating creatures that love to spend their time running up and down trees, collecting nuts, and eating fruits. While these activities can be a joy to watch when they do them in parks, forests, or the countryside, it becomes a problem when they move into your garden. The sight of squirrels jumping around your beautiful flowers and climbing onto your fruit trees can be frustrating for any gardener. But have you ever wondered why these little creatures find gardens so attractive? Here are three reasons:

Diet

Like humans, squirrels need food to survive, and they will go wherever they can find it. In gardens, squirrels are attracted to fruit trees such as apple trees, pear trees, and cherry trees because of the delicious fruits that grow on them. Additionally, squirrels enjoy feeding on nuts such as acorns from oak trees and hazelnuts from filbert bushes or filbert nut trees which many people grown in their gardens.

Nesting Opportunities

Another reason why squirrels love gardens is because of the abundance of nesting opportunities available there. Unlike other animals that build nests out of twigs or grasses on the ground or in bushes), squirrels prefer high places where predators cannot easily reach them. They will often choose cavities found in between branches high overhead for their nests.. Unfortunately for gardeners who like hanging flower baskets from tree branches – those hanging planters also conveniently serve as even more nesting spots for squirrels!

Water Sources

The final reason why squirrels gravitate towards gardens is the availability of water sources. In areas where water is scarce especially during hot summer months) finding a reliable source is key bird baths or shallow fountains may attract both birds (which can often antagonize squirrels whom they perceive as being threats) but once a squirrel discovers how comforting a cooled-off belly dip can be, they’ll return for more water throughout the day!

How Squirrels Damage Gardens

Although squirrels are great animals to have around particularly if you enjoy their antics,) they can cause damage to your garden and plants in several different ways. Some of these include:

Gnawing on Plants

One way that squirrels damage gardens is by gnawing on plants. They do this because their teeth never stop growing so squirrels need to gnaw things regularly–it’s a healthy way for them to keep their teeth filed down properly! However, what makes it problematic for gardeners is that the type of plant material that gets chewed up typically includes flower buds and small branches which really damages the look of many ornamental landscape plants.

Stealing Seeds and Nuts

Another way squirrels damage gardens is by stealing seeds from birds feeders (sunflower seeds are one of their favorites!) or nuts from trees. In some cases, the squirrel will take a single bite out of each seed or nut and then throw it away not interested in eating entire thing) . This frustrated hobbyist growers who specifically planted those food items with other animals like blue jays or cardinals in mind…

Digging and Burrowing

Finally, squirrels dig holes in lawns when they’re looking for temporary burrows or hiding places for food. They may also underground tunnels between shrubs where they lay claim over the cold winter months). To add insult to injury, when snow blankets areas with grassy turf(e.g., any soccer moms!), a tunnel made by a squirrel might collapse.. leaving an unsightly – perhaps hazardously ankle-twisting – depression behind!

What is Organic gardening?

Organic gardening is a method of growing plants that uses natural materials and methods to promote soil health and biodiversity, while avoiding the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. [Wikipedia]

Natural Squirrel Repellents for Gardens

Squirrels are cute and entertaining animals to watch as they chase each other around trees and scavenge for food. However, these critters can cause significant damage to home gardens as they dig holes into the soil, uproot seeds, gnaw on or strip bark from young trees, among other activities that threaten plant vitality. To protect your garden from squirrels’ destruction without harming them, you can use natural squirrel repellents in the following categories:

Hot Pepper Spray

Hot pepper spray is a great non-toxic solution that deters not only squirrels but also other pests such as rabbits, deer, and insects like aphids. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy, irritating, and hot to touch or taste buds; it affects small mammals’ nasal tissues when it comes in contact with their noses or eyes.

Recipe

To make hot pepper spray at home mix:

  • One gallon of water
  • One tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • One chopped yellow onion
  • One tablespoon of liquid dish soap

Put all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and stir thoroughly. Let the mixture sit overnight before straining it through a cheesecloth into a spray bottle.

Application

Apply hot pepper spray where there are squirrel infestations by using a garden sprayer to cover plants or areas affected by squirrel activities thoroughly. You might need to reapply after rainfalls or every ten days until squirrels learn their lesson.

Predator Urine

Most rodents have an aversion to predators’ scent because they recognize it’s potentially dangerous territory where some may be eaten alive. Hence using predatory urine – usually foxes and coyotes – trick squirrels into thinking there’s a formidable predator in the vicinity stimulating an instinctual fight-or-flight response.

How it Works

Predator urine works best if sprinkled around the garden at regular intervals of every 10-20 feet to create a “wall” effect that squirrels can’t overcome. This method is ideal if you have several plants or more extensive gardens.

Buying and Using Predator Urine

You can purchase predator urine mainly from hunting supply stores, garden centers or online. The best way to use it is by reapplying it after rainfalls or every ten days in dry weather. Be aware that the scent might be noticeable to human noses immediately after application but will dissipate within a few hours.

Spicy Plants

Some plants’ spicy scents and flavors like garlic, onion, peppermint, and chives repel squirrels as well as rabbits and deer since they find them unappetizing and irritating. Spicy plants are great natural deterrents because they won’t harm any wildlife or get degraded over time.

Examples
  • Allium (Onion)
  • Narcissi with names starting DDC, GDNC
  • Fritillaria imperialis (Crown Imperial)
  • Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)
  • Euphorbia lathyris (Gopher Spurge)
  • Capsicum annuum (Hot Pepper)
How to Use Them in Gardens

Plant spicy herbs and flowers around your garden strategically so that when squirrels come near them, they feel uneasy and leave before long. For instance, you could plant onions couple of feet away from tomatoes or peppers, add hot pepper’s sauce into bird feeders placed nearby trees for birds while smelling the fragrance squirrels do not tolerate.

Physical Barriers to Keep Squirrels Out of Gardens

Squirrels can be a real headache when it comes to gardening. They love to dig through flower beds and vegetable gardens in search of food, and they’re not afraid to climb trees or scale fences to get what they want. If you’re tired of sharing your garden with these pesky critters, consider using physical barriers to keep them out.

Fencing

One of the most effective ways to keep squirrels out of your garden is by installing a fence around the perimeter. This can be especially helpful if you have fruit trees, berries or vegetables that are particularly tasty to squirrels.

Types of Fencing
  • Chicken wire
  • Hardware Clotch
  • Electric fence
  • Decorative Fence
Installing a Fence

When installing a fence make sure it’s at least 3ft tall as squirrels are excellent climbers and jumpers. Bury the fence at least 6 inches into the ground so that squirrels won’t be able to dig under it.

Netting and Wire Mesh

If the idea of putting up a full-blown fence isn’t practical for your garden, try using netting or wire mesh instead. This can be an effective solution for protecting smaller areas such as raised beds or individual plants.

Types of Netting and Wire Mesh
  • Bird netting
  • Plastic netting
  • Coated metal mesh wire
Installing Netting and Wire Mesh

Stretch the net over your plants; use U-shaped stakes held down by stones or bricks at all four corners so that it stays securely in place, but also doesn’t press down too far on any one part.

Squirrel-Proof Plant Covers

Another option is using plant covers/squirrel-proof plant covers which usually come with zippers attached.. These are easy-to-use elasticized covers that slip on over your plants creating a barrier between squirrels and your produce.

Types of Covers

Many plant covers are easy to make at home with old net curtains or any thin netting material found in the market place and some sewing skills. The important thing is to create a barrier that will keep squirrels from digging through the soil and getting to the roots, as well as covering plants so they can’t be eaten.

Using Plant Covers

Be sure to use covers that allow water and air circulation so that your plants stay healthy. With the zipper attached, it makes it easier for you to check on your plants’ growth without removing them entirely each time.

Companion Planting to Deter Squirrels from Gardens

Gardening is an enjoyable pastime and a great way to produce healthy food for your family. However, it can be frustrating when you spend months nurturing your plants, only to have them destroyed by squirrels. These furry critters love to dig up bulbs and eat fruits and vegetables straight off the vine. If you’re looking for ways to keep squirrels out of your garden without resorting to harmful chemicals or inhumane traps, companion planting and reflective surfaces may be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Plants That Naturally Repel Squirrels

Companion planting involves pairing specific plants together that benefit each other in some way. In the case of squirrel control, certain plants emit odors or contain compounds that repel these pesky rodents.

Here are some examples of companion plants that naturally deter squirrels:

  • Daffodils: These bright spring flowers contain lycorine, a toxic alkaloid that squirrels avoid.
  • Alliums: Garlic, onions, chives, and other alliums have strong scents that mask the smell of more tempting plants.
  • Fritillaries: Like daffodils, fritillaries (also known as snake’s head lilies) contain toxic compounds that make them unattractive to squirrels.
  • Hyacinths: The fragrance of hyacinths is lovely to humans but repels squirrels.
  • Marigolds: These cheery annuals give off a strong scent that drives away many garden pests.
Examples

If you want to try companion planting with squirrel-repellent plants, consider trying some of these combinations:

  • Plant daffodil bulbs around the perimeter of your garden beds before you plant vegetables or berries. This will create a natural barrier that squirrels will be hesitant to cross.
  • Interplant alliums throughout your vegetable garden. They not only repel squirrels, but also deter aphids and other common pests.
  • Tuck fritillaries in among your flower beds, especially near bulbs or delicate perennials that squirrels might be tempted to dig up.
  • Add hyacinths to pots or window boxes that are vulnerable to squirrel damage. Place them at the corners of the containers so their scent can waft across the whole surface.
  • Use marigolds as a border plant around vegetable gardens or intersperse them between plants that are susceptible to squirrel destruction.
How to Use Companion Planting

To get the most benefit from companion planting, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Choose tall plants to flank shorter ones, creating a layered effect that maximizes space and natural barriers.
  • Avoid monoculture (planting only one type of crop) since this makes it easy for pests (like squirrels) to find all their favorite foods in one place.
  • Plan ahead by researching which plants grow well together and which do not. Look for crops with similar growing requirements that can support each other’s growth.

Reflective Surfaces

Another method for deterring squirrels is using reflective surfaces. Squirrels have excellent eyesight, and they can be frightened off by bright flashes of light.

Here are some examples of reflective surfaces you can use:

  • Mylar tape: This shiny ribbon is often hung on Christmas trees or used as gift wrap. Squirrels don’t like the way it moves in the breeze or reflects light.
  • Aluminum foil: Twist sheets of aluminum foil into pinwheels or hang them from stakes throughout your garden. As with mylar tape, these glistening objects will scare away approaching rodents.
  • CDs: String old CDs on fishing line and hang them above your plants. The sunlight will reflect off them during the day, while at night those same CDs illuminated by headlights will startle squirrels.
Examples

Here are some ways you can use reflective surfaces in your garden:

  • Wrap mylar tape around the trunks of fruit trees to keep squirrels from climbing up and eating your harvest.
  • Hang aluminum foil pinwheels among low-growing plants that are vulnerable to squirrel damage, such as strawberries or young lettuces.
  • Dangle CDs from posts or stakes near vegetable gardens. Since they catch the breeze, these shiny discs will move randomly and flash light in many directions.
How to Use Reflective Surfaces

When using reflective surfaces to deter squirrels, it’s important to remember that they work best when used judiciously. Too many reflective objects can become overwhelming and actually draw more attention or cause harm by blinding birds or other animals.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep your garden tidy so that the reflective surfaces are easy to spot by those upon whom they’re working their magic. Routinely remove any dead leaves or debris from the soil surface and clear away fallen fruits or vegetables. This will ensure that the glare of sunlight off CDs, mylar tape, or aluminum foil stands out more prominently and scares away squirrels before they have a chance to dig in.

Homemade Squirrel Deterrents for Gardens

Squirrels can be cute and fun to watch, but they can also wreak havoc on your garden. They are notorious for digging up bulbs, eating fruit, and chewing on plants. While there are many commercial products available to deter squirrels from your garden, these can be expensive and may contain harmful chemicals that are not environmentally friendly. Fortunately, there are many effective homemade squirrel deterrents that you can make using natural ingredients. Here are some of the most popular options:

Homemade Hot Pepper Spray

One of the most effective DIY squirrel repellents is hot pepper spray. Squirrels have a sensitive sense of taste and smell – and they absolutely hate spicy things! This easy-to-make spray uses only a few ingredients and is safe for both the environment and your plants.

Recipe

To make hot pepper spray, you will need:

  • 1 or more cups of hot peppers (such as jalapenos or habaneros)
  • Water
  • Garlic cloves
  • Liquid dish soap

Instructions:

  1. Cut up the peppers into small pieces.
  2. Place them in a blender along with a few cloves of garlic.
  3. Add enough water to cover the peppers.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  6. Add some liquid dish soap to help the mixture adhere to plant leaves.
How to Apply Homemade Hot Pepper Spray

Once you’ve made your hot pepper spray, it’s important to apply it correctly if you want it to work effectively.

Instructions:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with your homemade hot pepper spray.
  2. Shake well before use.
  3. Spray over areas where squirrels have been seen or where you suspect they may be hiding out (such as near trees or bird feeders).
  4. Be sure to apply directly onto plant leaves and soil where bulbs are planted.
  5. Reapply the spray often, especially after rain or watering.

Note: Be careful when making hot pepper spray as it can be extremely potent and irritate eyes and skin. Use gloves when handling hot peppers and keep the mixture away from children and pets.

Homemade Deterrent Sprays

In addition to hot pepper spray, there are several other natural deterrent sprays that you can make at home.

Recipe

Here’s a recipe for a homemade deterrent spray that uses garlic and vinegar:

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Mince the garlic cloves.
  2. Combine the minced garlic, cayenne pepper, liquid dish soap, water, and vinegar in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
How to Apply Homemade Deterrent Sprays

To use this homemade deterrent spray:

  1. Give your mixture a good shake before using it each time.
  2. Spray on affected trees or plants until they’re saturated.
  3. Make sure to reapply frequently (every couple of days) or after rainfall.

Some other ingredients that may repel squirrels include cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, castor oil, black pepper powder or flakes etc. You can make your own squirrel repellent mix with these oils by mixing just one or two together with water, dish soap for better adherence to leaves and a sprayer bottle as needed

While homemade squirrel repellents may not be as potent as commercial products containing chemicals such as capsaicin (the ingredient responsible for making chili peppers hot), they are an effective way to deter squirrels without harming your plants or polluting the environment.

Attracting Natural Squirrel Predators to Keep Gardens Squirrel-Free

Gardeners take all kinds of measures to keep squirrels away from their gardens, from using repellents to erecting physical barriers. However, these methods can be ineffective or costly – and often harm the environment in various ways. Instead, gardeners can try an organic and sustainable approach by attracting natural squirrel predators to their gardens. By creating a friendly habitat for these creatures, gardening enthusiasts can encourage them to visit their space regularly and help control the squirrel population.

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey are natural squirrel predators that feed on small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. These birds include falcons, hawks, kestrels, eagles, ospreys, owls and many other species. They have sharp talons and powerful beaks that they use to catch and kill their prey.

Types of Birds of Prey

Different birds of prey have different strengths and weaknesses in hunting squirrels based on their size and hunting behavior. For example:

  • Red-tailed Hawks are common North American birds that can hunt squirrels with ease due to their powerful legs.
  • Great Horned Owls are nocturnal hunters that swoop silently over gardens at night looking for potential prey including squirrels.
  • Cooper’s Hawks hunt mainly by surprise attack but may also chase prey through vegetation making them effective squirrel hunters.
  • Peregrine Falcons travel at high speeds during flight so they are able to capture grey squirrels through sheer agility.
How to Attract Birds of Prey to Gardens

Attracting birds of prey may seem like a daunting task for novice gardeners but adding elements like nesting boxes or leaving open spaces in your landscape is enough incentive for them.

Here are some tips:

  1. Plant trees: Birds need tall sturdy trees where they can roost or perch before conducting their hunts especially on the lookout for squirrels scampering around. Consider deciduous trees such as oak, maple, or hickory which provide viable roosting and foraging opportunities.
  2. Set up nesting boxes: This is a secure way to attract birds of prey to your garden while also providing them with comfortable shelter that is above ground level, giving them better visibility to spot potential prey like squirrels.
  3. Provide perching sites: Add wooden poles around your garden space that birds can perch on in between hunting sorties.
  4. Install water features: A small water source like a bird bath or fountain could be added which may encourage visits by birds of prey to your yard.

Snakes

Snakes are predators found throughout many gardens that help control rodent populations – including squirrels. While some people may be afraid of snakes and shy away from attracting them into their garden space, they are often misunderstood creatures serving as natural squirrel deterrents.

Types of Snakes

Some types of snakes that feed on other small mammals include:

  • Eastern Rat snake
  • Water snakes
  • Garter Snake
  • King Snake
How to Attract Snakes to Gardens

There are different methods you can use to attract snakes to your garden:

  1. Create a rock pile: A large compost bin filled with organic matter will create an ideal habitat for insects and rodents (and ultimately squirrels). Surround it with rocks and sticks so snaked can create pathways under and around the pile.
  2. Leave tall grasses uncut: By leaving taller grasses uncut during summer months, hiding spots – particularly for garter snakes -are readily available. In addition plant cover crops such as clover which covers bare soil during winter and provides good cover habitats for reptiles such as snakes.
  3. Add a reptile habitat: Place boards or bricks in warm sunny areas around the property where snakes could bask in direct sunlight.
  4. Provide water features: Fill a shallow container with water and place it in the garden where snakes can quench their thirst.

Domestic Pets

Domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, can be great squirrel predators when trained well. However, it’s important that domestic pets are used responsibly under proper guidance and adhere to best practice guidelines.

Types of Domestic Pets That Hunt Squirrels

Out of all household domestic animals that hunt squirrels; dogs and cats are the most efficient at catching squirrels due to their ability to navigate through branches freely while focusing on targets. Below are some examples of dog breeds which make efficient squirrel predators:

  • Terriers
  • Hounds
  • Retriever spaniels

Cats, on the other hand tend to be more effective in yards where there is plenty of cover for them to hide in during hunting (ambush) missions.

Best Practices for Using Domestic Pets as Squirrel Predators
  1. Train your pet: Training is essential because otherwise the pet may not differentiate between a wild animal or other assets it is supposed to protect within its environment. Though Hunting instinct comes naturally but they must be taught when and where to do so while obeying commands from its owner.
  2. Monitor your pet: Before setting up an outdoor space for your cat or allowing your dog outside off-leash, consider any potential risks like traffic. Otherwise constant monitoring your pet outdoors while keeping their vaccinations up-to-date is recommended.
  3. Do not allow pets unattended near snare traps: Ensure you point out any squirrel-culling or trapping activities around the areas that your hunting dog(s)/cat(s) patrols.
  4. Check local regulations laws regarding predatory animals : Local laws should consider animal welfare concerns when setting pest control strategies involving use of domestic animals.

In summary; natural predators provide reliable protection against squirrels rather than chemical approaches, which are environmentally damaging. Natural predator assitance requires patience, commitment and care to help them thrive. By implementing even simplest measures can bring predatory animals into your garden space regardless of size. Whether you’re an urban gardener or suburban homeowner, add elements like nesting boxes, water sources, tall grasses, and perching spots in your outdoor space. This helps encourage predators and dissuade squirrels from visiting your garden.

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