Every spring and summer an epic battle goes on in my backyard:
The Gardener versus The Squirrel
I often lose, but I’m getting more savvy every year and learn new tricks to beat back these little pests that like to dig up my flowers, eat my plants, root through my flower pots, and make general chaos of our patio area.
Today I’m going to share 5 tricks I’ve picked up in the last few years of gardening to help keep squirrels out of your plants. These work best with container gardening, which is what I mostly do on our back patio, but several of these can be applied directly to your bed gardens.
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1. Plants flowers that squirrels don’t like.
It can’t really get more basic than that. To really make sure the squirrels leave your garden alone simply plant flowers they don’t like because of either their taste or their smell.
These flowers include alliums, crocus (tomasinianus variety), lilies, marigolds, hyacinth, daffodils and, from personal experience, impatiens, geraniums, columbine, and the squirrels seem to leave my begonias alone though I have heard that they are not against eating them also.
2. Lay chicken wire or plant stakes just under the dirt.
The idea with laying chicken wire or garden stakes (upside down) in your containers is that it prevents squirrels from being able to dig. Thus no holes in your pots where they have tried to bury food plus they can’t get to your flowers to dig them up. It won’t do any good if what they are after is the plants themselves though.
This is one trick I’m itching to try out. I just get so excited when I get new flowers that I forget to put the chicken wire into the pot first.
3. Human or dog hair as a deterrent.
It may sound a little gross, but putting your hair clippings or your dog’s hair into your flower pots will keep the squirrels away. Squirrels have an acute sense of smell and will stay away from the scent of predators. I trim my own bangs and have sprinkled the cut-off hair on top of the soil of my potted plants. Worked like a charm! But only for so long. Eventually the smell will fade away, and you will have to add more.
Also, if you’re thinking this will look visually displeasing, you’re not adding huge clumps of hair to the pots. Adding scattered clippings to the soil will not be visible to guests admiring your flowers.
4. Spice them out with cayenne pepper!
Sprinkle cayenne pepper on your soil and even on your plants to keep the squirrels away. One lick of their paws and your flowers are safe. At least until it rains. Then you will need to reapply.
This is my current favorite method of deterring squirrels from my flowers. I think of them getting cayenne pepper on their little paws and it burning their poor greedy little mouths. I’m mean like that.
I have also read that you can make a spray mixture of cayenne pepper + dishwashing liquid + water to safely spray on your plants to keep the squirrels away. I have not tried this myself. Simply sprinkling the pepper around is good with me.
Also use caution with this method if you have pets that can access the cayenne pepper. My dogs stay out of my potted plants, but I’m less likely to use this method in my flower beds where they sometimes wander into.
5. Add bone meal to your soil.
Again with the scent thing. Squirrels don’t like the smell of bone meal and will stay out of your containers and garden beds if it is sprinkled on the soil. You will have to reapply periodically, especially after a hard rain, but it is suppose to be a great fertilizer for your plants so its really a double win.
You work hard on your garden! Make sure you can enjoy it.
Do you have any tips or tricks to keep squirrels away?
I would love to hear them! I’m always looking for new ideas to try.
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