Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas – Keep Squirrels out of The Yard!

Dealing with squirrels has been an ongoing problem for me in one way or another for several years.  Do you have a problem with squirrels?  If so, these natural squirrel repellent ideas may prove useful to you.Tips for keeping squirrels out of your garden, Try these natural squirrel repellent ideas.

If you read my blog often, you may remember reading about the squirrels in my vegetable garden a few years ago. Suffice to say, it was a nightmare all around. I was at my wit’s end trying to keep them out of my home grown vegetables.

Problems caused by squirrels in the garden

Animal lovers are charmed by the acrobatic maneuvers of squirrels and find them delightful.

But when a gardener walks out into their vegetable garden to find their corn in a mess and their tomatoes scattered over the ground with exactly one bite out of each, they are anything BUT charmed.

Squirrels are a constant source of frustration for any vegetable gardener and I, for one, am always looking for new, and natural, ways for keeping squirrels out of my garden.Red Squirrel

I am an organic gardener by nature, but when my 1000 foot vegetable garden was destroyed by squirrels two years ago, I was prepared to try anything and everything to get rid of them.

I made some squirrel repellents but was never happy with the idea that they contained moth balls, which are quite toxic, so I discontinued the use of them and started looking into other natural squirrel deterrent ideas.

Even if you never see squirrels in your yard, there are lots of signs that they have been visiting your garden.

Look for shallow digging and holes around plants, small bites on vegetables (particularly tomatoes), seed heads that hat been nibbled, whole plants that have disappeared (!) and digging evidence in your plant containers.

These are all signs that Mr. Squirrel has been paying you a visit and that it might be time to take action to control him.Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

Keep squirrels away naturally with some very creative ideas. Dogs, cats, garlic, peppers and peppermint are all useful tools to rid your yard of squirrels. 🐿🌶😺🐶🐿  Click To Tweet

Let’s look at some Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

Keeping squirrels out of the garden is a challenge for sure, but these ideas should help.

Hot Pepper Plants and Cayenne PepperHot Pepper plants and cayenne pepper are natural squirrel repellents that really work.

Hot peppers are the most often used ingredients in natural squirrel repellent remedies, it seems.  You can use them in a variety of ways:

  • Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on the ground near the plants that seem to be attracting squirrels.
  • Sprinkle a light dusting of cayenne pepper right on the leaves of squirrel tempting plants. Low lying leaves are the most important ones to sprinkle.
  • Mix cayenne pepper and petroleum jelly and spread it on the stems of plants at the base. Also spread it on fences, poles and other solid things near plants that squirrels like.
  • Make a cayenne pepper spray to spray on the leaves of tempting plants. To do this, mix a small bottle of your favorite hot sauce with a gallon on water. Place in a spray bottle and use it directly on the leaves of the plants that the squirrels are going after.

Note:  all of these remedies will need to be reapplied periodically, especially after it rains.

Garlic SpraysUse crushed garlic and vinegar to deter squirrels

Squirrels also dislike the smell and taste of garlic.  Make a concoction with chopped up garlic, water and vinegar.

Let the mixture sit for a few days to give the flavors a chance to combine well and spray it on fences, and stakes in your vegetable garden.

Apple Cider Vinegar Spray as a squirrel repellent

Apple cider vinegar spray

The acrid taste and smell of apple cider vinegar is a real turn off to squirrels. Use it as a spray on hard surfaces and fixtures in squirrel infested areas.

Note:  This spray is for use on hard surfaces, and it can be sprayed 100%. Don’t use it on plants since vinegar can kill plants.

How to Keep Squirrels away with Bulbs and Plants

Use bulbs as a way of keeping squirrels out of the garden.  Some plants that repel squirrels are beautiful to see, but many of them are actually unappealing to squirrels.

Plant squirrel repelling bulbs

There are some bulbs and plants that squirrels really avoid due to their taste and smell.  Planting this type of bulb near your vegetable garden can do a good job of keeping the squirrels away.

A few ideas for squirrel repelling bulbs are daffodils, hyacinths, allium, lily of the valley, peppermint and geranium.

Squirrels aren’t the only thing that plants will repel. Lots of plants are great at repelling insects. See my list of mosquito repelling plants here.

Peppermint Essential Oil is a Natural Squirrel RepellentPeppermint essential oil is a natural squirrel repellent

Squirrels don’t like the strong scent of peppermint. In the same way that a live peppermint plant will deter them, peppermint essential oils also can be used.

Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them here and there on jar lids around plants in your garden that the squirrels like. The baits will need to be re-soaked periodically.

You can also make a peppermint essential oil spray with the ratio of one drop of peppermint essential oil to one ounce of vinegar and use it to spray on hard surfaces in the garden.

Peppermint essential oil can also be combined with other oils to make an effective homemade mosquito repellent spray.

Print out this list of Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

Other Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

If the remedies don’t work at keeping squirrels out of the garden, then it might be time for some more drastic measures. Here are some other ideas for what repels squirrels.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels by scaring them

Metal scarecrow with light sensors keep the squirrels away and make a great natural squirrel repellent

Motion detecting lights, scarecrows, high frequency sound machines, owl decoys, and other tools are used to scare squirrels. Some friends of mine have a huge farm property and Randy has a vegetable garden which gives her prizes every year at the State Fair.

When I visited recently, I asked Randy how she keeps the squirrels away from it and she said it was this amazing sculpture that she had made.

The sculpture is huge, has lights that come on when anything approaches the garden and does a great job of keeping the squirrels away from it.

How to repel squirrels Using Cats and Dogs Dogs keep squirrels out of the garden

The last few dogs that we had love to chase squirrels and this is one behavior that I don’t discourage.  

If you have a dog or cat in your yard that chases the squirrels every time they visit, it is unlikely that you will have much of a squirrel problem.

Not all dogs deter squirrels. When I had my squirrel invasion, the dogs I had then had no interest in the squirrels! Other times (and other dogs) proved just the opposite!

Squirrel Traps

Sometimes the answer to a squirrel problem is simply to trap them and remove them to another location.

Note: Be sure to check the rules about relocating in your area.  Some regions prohibit this action by law.

Trap squirrels humanely and move to another area

Place sunflower seeds, small pieces of corn on the cob or other threats that squirrels like in a squirrel trap. Place the trap near the area where you know the squirrels visit.

Once the squirrel gets trapped, release it in some far away place (or they will just return if you release near your home!)

Remove things that attract squirrels

You may be unknowingly attracting squirrels in your attempt to bring other wildlife into the garden. The bird seed that the birds love is also a favorite food of squirrels.Clean up around bird feeders

Place bird feeders away from your vegetable garden area if possible, and be sure to clean up around them.  The smell of seeds and bits of fruit can really be attractive to squirrels.

Also, make sure that your garbage bins are closed to keep temptation away.  There is no sense in sending out a welcome mat if you want to keep squirrels at bay!

Give them an alternative food choice

This may seem like an oxymoron, but sometimes giving the squirrels their own food supply can be the answer.Set up a feeding station for squirrels far away from your veggie garden

If you have tried everything to keep squirrels away and they still keep returning to your garden, try setting up a distraction station somewhere in your yard that is some distance away from your veggies.

Set up a food station with squirrel tempting treats like sunflower seeds, nuts and other treats. This will attract the squirrels away from your vegetables and to other areas of the yard.

Just be sure the station is positioned well away from your edible vegetables. Don’t forget to keep water here too.  My entire crop of tomatoes each had one bite out of them and I am sure the squirrels were mainly thirsty that day.

Cages for Vegetables are natural squirrel repellents

Squirrels love vegetables, in particular corn. (My squirrel problem was never a problem until I decided to plant corn in the vegetable garden.)

If all else fails, cages may be your only option.

One of the best natural squirrel repellent ideas is simply to keep them out! The squirrels cannot eat when they can’t get into the vegetable area.  Think about making tall wire cages.

Be sure the garden beds have tops (bird netting works well) as well as sides, or the squirrels will just climb up and in. Row covers also work for smaller veggies.

A note on Predators.

Both hawks and owls love to prey on squirrels.  My husband is convinced that our squirrel population is so much higher because wooded land near by has been built up with houses and the owls are less plentiful.Owls are natural preditors for squirrels

Find out what you can about attracting owls and hawks to the area to see if this helps.

If you don’t have live owls living nearby, think about investing in some owl decoys. They are designed to scare away squirrels and other rodents.

Have you found other natural methods effective at keeping squirrels out of your garden? Share your natural squirrel repellent in the comments below!

Pin this post on Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

Would you like a reminder of this post for keeping squirrels out of your garden?  Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest. You can also watch the video on YouTube later, as well.

These natural squirrel repellent ideas will help you manage with a summer time pest.

Admin Note: This post first appeared on the blog in April of 2017. I have updated the post with additional tips, more photos, a printable check list and video for you to enjoy.


Yield: Ideas to Keep Squirrels out of Your Yard!

Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

Print out this list of Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas

There are lots of ways to keep squirrels out of your yard. This handy check list will help you plan for a squirrel free garden this year.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $10 - $50

Materials

  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Peppermint Essential Oils
  • Squirrel Cages
  • Motion Detectors
  • Vegetable Cages

Tools

  • Print out the check list below to help plan for dealing with squirrels this year.

Instructions

NATURAL SQUIRREL REPELLENT IDEAS

  1. Hot pepper plants
  2. Cayenne pepper on the leaves of plants.
  3. Peppermint essential oil on cotton balls in the garden
  4. Garlic and vinegar spray (hard surfaces)
  5. Apple cider vinegar spray (hard surfaces)
  6. Motion detector lights
  7. Large statues in the garden
  8. High Frequency sound machines
  9. Cats and Dogs will keep squirrels away
  10. Squirrel traps to trap and move squirrels
  11. Move bird feeders away from vegetable garden
  12. Keep garbage bins away too
  13. Set up a squirrel feeding station for their own food supply
  14. Grow vegetables in cages.
  15. Plant bulbs that deter squirrels such as daffodils, hyacinths, allium, garlic, lily of the valley, peppermint and geraniums.

Notes

Set your printer to "fit to page" and print out this chart on heavy card stock

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  32 comments for “Natural Squirrel Repellent Ideas – Keep Squirrels out of The Yard!

  1. 09/26/2018 at 6:32 am

    Squirrels don’t like the smell of vinegar and ammonia. You can hang containers filled with soaked rags around your garden to keep squirrels at bay.

    Another trick is to cover the soil of your potted plants with some predator fur or even clippings from your own hair. Again, the smell of a predator will scare off the squirrels. Remember that those solutions must be “Re-freshed” from time to time, especially after a rainy day. 🙂

    • Carol
      09/26/2018 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks for the tips Amber!

      • Carol
        06/26/2019 at 11:10 am

        is there a way to keep the squirels from eating my pine cones from my pine trees.

        • Carol
          06/26/2019 at 11:57 am

          Not that I know of. I have the same problem. Perhaps another reader can help.

      • Why
        07/25/2020 at 9:37 pm

        I have an idea: lemon balm grows easily prettily nicely and profusely and smells great to me and is useful in cooking and in keeping mosquitos away and so, maybe if I cut it off and lay it on the bare earth under the prickly holly hedge there wouldn’t be any more walnut thees growing hidden there from nuts buried by the squirrels?

    • Dee
      09/02/2020 at 2:02 pm

      Be careful about trapping and know the laws in your area. For example, after live trapping 3 squirrels in my house, and relocating them, I found out it is illegal in Oregon.

  2. Zeze
    04/21/2019 at 5:19 am

    Thank you good information!

    • Carol
      04/21/2019 at 8:35 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Zeze.

  3. Richard G
    07/19/2019 at 9:51 pm

    I used the apple cider vinegar on my tomatoe plants and othet veges. I did not see where you should dilute the vinegar, not my plants have all browned and might not survive. If you did say to dilute the vinegar I did not see it. If you did not say to dilute it please let people know it must be diluted

    • Terrie
      04/26/2020 at 3:06 pm

      Yes it says to dilute vinegar or it will kill plants.

    • miles
      05/08/2020 at 7:30 am

      Also says only on HARD SURFACES, NOT YOUR PLANTS.

  4. Patricia Pierce
    04/13/2020 at 6:13 pm

    Someone in my neighborhood feeds the squirrels whole peanuts, walnuts, almonds and I don’t mind squirrels but they eat them on top of my fence and drop all the shell in the corner of my yard. And also bury nuts all throughout my yard as I find them as I’m planting. Just tired of it. Need something natural to keep them away but not harm any animals. I do love the birds

    • Carol Speake
      04/14/2020 at 12:29 pm

      Squirrels are a challenge for sure. My husband thinks that the reason we have more squirrels now, is that the owl population in our area has decreased. My biggest mistake was planting corn one year. It drew them like magnets. We have tried catching them to release them elsewhere, but they are clever and can figure out the traps.

      • Sue
        05/21/2020 at 10:36 am

        I have a squirrel that licks vinegar off my screen. Spray through the screen to run raccoons off.

  5. Regina
    04/18/2020 at 3:15 pm

    You should NEVER spray your vegetables with vinegar. It is an acid, a natural weed killer and i use it all the time for that. I mix it with salt for areas where I want to also kill the ground like between walkway stones.
    Never spray it on plants you want to live.

    • Kim
      06/13/2020 at 11:32 pm

      How do you use vinegar in your yard to kill weeds?

      • Carol Speake
        06/14/2020 at 12:57 pm

        This article talks about vinegar as a weed killer.

      • Henry Hekker
        09/11/2020 at 12:05 am

        Our land is a Wildlife Habitat. Each month we buy 1400 pounds of deer feed (corn, nuggets, protein), 400 pounds bird seed (blackoil sunflower, niger thistle, suet), 25 pounds wildlife peanuts in the shell. Food for our five dogs. No hunting allowed. We enjoy watching and mingling with them. The only animal I shoot is a skunk out and about during the day. A skunk in daylight is probably sick, rabid. Rural Great State of Texas.

  6. Paula
    04/30/2020 at 12:29 am

    Apple cider vinegar is diluted and only for “hard surfaces”, not for plants

  7. Mark Wyman
    06/09/2020 at 4:03 pm

    Hot pepper (flakes, oils, ect…) Peppermint plant and Peppermint oil, I’ve even gone as far as using ghost pepper hot sauce and it works for a day or two then even after I freshen it up the squirrels just come back… And the pepper mint plants have been destroyed…

    I’ve already had to replace a number of plants because of those “adorable” but destructive pests…

    I placed a couple of peanuts coated in Ghost pepper sauce in an open area to see the reaction.. A grey squirrel sniffed it then ate it…. If ghost pepper doesn’t discourage them, WHAT WILL?

    • Franco
      08/15/2020 at 10:11 pm

      Mark,

      Here are a several of my own, exasperated thoughts:

      1) Silly me! I, too, suspected that ghost-pepper sauce was so rich in capsaicin that it would surely de-welcome both squirrels and chipmunks. Up to a point it did or does: I also found, with time, that Rocky/Rockette the Squirrels got a little too used to vegetable hellfire (even as Alvin/Alvina have evidently relocated their Love Tunnel). What gave?! I suspect that not all ghost-pepper sauces are brewed equal. I had fair luck with a brand named, “Dave’s Gourmet” — opening the bottle too close to my face made my eyes sting and weep — yet rather less success with one named, “Small Axe,” altho a locally-rainy growing season may have partly aborted my little mission.

      2) So, what to do? Online, I found dried, powdered “Carolina Reaper” peppers, supposedly even more hellish than the infernal ghost pepper, and sprinkled this instant warlock’s brew onto a favorite burial-spot, as well (ill?) as on the surface-soil of a few potted plants. This so-called spice, partnered with (fresh) garlic powder, has worked quite well in the latter case, and for a little longer in the besieged flower bed. (Just for the Hades of it, I misted the booby-trapped potting compost with water, and soon “wept as I had sown”. Literally! Aah, sweet hope?)

      3) I myself have only a very small flower bed, plus a few pots, to protect against ravenous rodents. (I have learned the twin arts of decorating most of my potted charges with layers of crushed/polished stone, and then guessing at how often to water. Rodents are pretty chary of stones.) Had I a large plot to secure, and were I rather a bit more the Bad Boy, I would set out little saucers, filled with equal parts of sugar, corn meal, and baking soda. Multiple online sources indicate that such a blend tempts Hell’s critters to gorge, on which the bicarbonate reacts with their stomach acids, generating so much CO2, so quickly, that Rocky or Alvina or Pepé le Pew’s guts explode, blowing them to the Great Beyond. (Reportedly, this is because rodents can not . . . break wind.) This last resort I neither condemn nor condone — we might as well laugh, or learn to apply vegetable tear gas every few days, or learn how to garden with a mulch of landscaping cloth and decorative stone — which will surely not accommodate every plant on our wish list . . .

      Good luck!
      –Franco

  8. 06/17/2020 at 3:19 am

    Very informative blog. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing blog.

  9. Grant Knox
    06/23/2020 at 2:38 pm

    To all my fellow vegetable gardners who are in a constant battle with squirrels – I have found the solution. Squirrels were killing my garden – digging up seeds, eating the tops of plants and killing them and reeking havoc in my garden.
    I have tried all of the following with little or no success:
    1. firepit ashes (works for about a week)
    2. dried pepper flakes (works for a few days or until it rains)
    3. moth balls
    4. Irish Spring Soap
    5. dog patrol – works until the pups come back inside
    Back in the day my parents would hang old CDs in thier garden (when every software or printer update came with a CD), but during a pandemic thrift stores were not open. I got to thinking, what would be shiney and reflective, fun, and weather resistent. Aluminium pie pans are shiney and reflective and weather risistent, but not fun or attractive.
    Then it hit me- DISCO BALLS! Shiny – check, reflective- check, fun- check, weather resistant – I hoped so. Party City stores were not open, but they were accepting online orders. I found a 20% off online coupon and got free shipping. Three days later I had 3 Disco Balls on my front porch.
    I pulled 3 shepherd hooks and spider wire (the balls have to spin) out of the basement and installed my new Disco Balls in the garden. I’ve been watching the garden and the squirrels for the past 2+ months. Squirrels will walk the fence behind the garden and play in the grass and trees around the garden, BUT NOT ONE squirrel has gone in the garden and my garden is THRIVING. We have also had a lot of wind and rain this spring and not one mirror tile has come off.
    One of my neighbors has had her garden repeated destroyed by squirrels and put a disco ball in her last week.
    Don’t waste your time with all those things I mentioned above – they don’t work. Hang a couple of Disco Balls and make your garden a Squirrel-Free and Fun Zone!!!!

  10. Judy
    07/03/2020 at 1:29 am

    Disco balls!! Fun! I have seen smaller ornaments like this in the past. Grand idea!
    My grandma used the aluminum pie tin idea. Cut it into pcs and strung them on string or rope she saved. Then tied them to stakes and made a border. She said it was for the birds, never mentioned squirrels from what I remember.
    I saw on another page to get fake snakes. I went to Walmart today and bought 5 plastic snakes for $1/ea. (Toy dept) Put them by my planter containers this evening. Didn’t find the owl decoy though. Hopefully the snakes work. Article said you should move them and the owl periodically.

  11. Anne
    07/07/2020 at 2:00 pm

    I’d like to try the garlic and vinegar sprays. What is the ratio of water to garlic or vinegar?

    • Carol Speake
      07/13/2020 at 11:09 am

      I didn’t give an actual formula because vinegar can kill plants if not used correctly. The garlic and vinegar spray is meant to be used on fences and garden seats. If sprayed around plants, it can act like a weed killer, since vinegar is often used this 2ay.

      For hard surfaces, I’d mix vinegar/water 50/50 and then add a head of minced garlic and let it sit for a while to combine. It’s the smell of garlic that squirrels don’t like.

  12. Lynda
    07/17/2020 at 7:41 pm

    Just got landscaping done squirrels are digging holes in the bark I am finding holes all over the place I just bought vinegar hoping to spray the boulder I hope the smell will keep them out is it 50 50

  13. Robert
    07/20/2020 at 10:39 am

    squirrels don’t eat green tomatoes. Pick them when they are juuuust starting to turn red, put them in a paper bag in a warm place in your home (top of fridge). They will ripen nicely and without blemishes!

  14. Araka
    07/29/2020 at 2:29 pm

    A trap is the ONLY thing that works! I have tried everything from cayenne pepper to ammonia, garlic, mint sprays & owls/hawk fixtures with 0 results. Trap and move and release. Problem with that one solved!

  15. Dan Omlor
    08/22/2020 at 4:07 pm

    Trapped. Sprayed their legs red and blue for ID. Took them 10 miles away and released in a park. One week — seven days — later they were back.

  16. Dee
    09/02/2020 at 2:03 pm

    Be careful about trapping and know the laws in your area. For example, after live trapping 3 squirrels in my house, and relocating them, I found out it is illegal in Oregon.

    • Carol Speake
      09/02/2020 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks for the advice. I will add it to my post.

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