Meagan Francis

Meagan Francis

The first time I grew a backyard veggie garden, I kept discovering nibbled, half-rotten and abandoned tomatoes in our yard.

It never occurred to me to blame the squirrels that played all day on our back fence. Between those short little arms and their small stature (the tomatoes were about twice the size of their heads!) they didn't seem very likely culprits.


15 Ways to Get Rid of Squirrels 14 photos

That's what I thought until the day I walked out onto my deck and caught one of our furry little neighbors red-handed, playing with the fat, juicy tomato I'd planned to pick for my salad that evening. Mr. Squirrel saw me, froze for a moment, then dropped the tomato and bolted for a nearby tree.


Since we lived in a city flat with a shared yard, shooting the squirrels wasn't an option even if I'd had the stomach for it. With little kids and pets I worried about poison, and I could never have gone for gruesome kill traps.

See how to use items from your kitchen to keep squirrels and other pests away.

So I knew we'd have to find a natural, non-poisonous way to keep the squirrels at bay with humane and neighbor-friendly methods.


After considerable research, here's what I learned about keeping squirrels and other rodents away from your prized produce:

  • Pester them back. You may be able to annoy the pests away with sprinkler systems, sensitive motion lights, high-frequency sound emitters or a variety of scent-based repellants, like garlic, hot peppers, or animal urine. Stake out your garden for a while to see what kind of animals are doing the damage, and search the Internet for tips on repelling your specific unwelcome visitor.
  • Bring in a predator. Dogs and cats can make great rodent deterrents, and some dogs, like the Rat Terrier, are bred for the purpose of hunting small animals. If getting a pet isn't an option, consider putting up barn owl houses.
  • Fence them out. Wire fencing can be an effective way to block pests. Be sure to bury the wire to keep out those persistent diggers, and consider electric fencing as extra deterrent. Using raised garden beds can make it easier to block critters with fencing under and above the bed.
  • Play nice. You may be able to entice your small thieves to another area of the yard by providing them with a better option. Turns out squirrels don't really like tomatoes, which is why they kept taking a nibble and then ditching them in our yard. We put up a feeder with sunflower seeds on the opposite side of the yard, and it seemed to do the trick.

13 Comments About this Article

  • Candice Harding
    Put a small square of chocolate EX LAX at the base of the fruit tree in the evening (so it doesn't melt in the heat). If it is gone in the morning so is your squirrel, unless you have more than one, repeat process. Same for rabbits, gophers, and other fruit eating pests.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Thomas Kremer
    Squirrels are an important part of the ecosystem, spreading microriza around the environment, which helps plants to grow. So killing them is not a good idea, and if you care at all about cruelty, you would avoid using the ex-lax method. There are plenty of other options listed in the article above.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • St W
    I'm going to try that. We got too many squirrels around here anyways.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Char Lea
    I need more ideas, none of these will work for me. My neighbor insists on feeding nuts to the squirrels and chipmunks he even has a dish of water for them. Our homes are very close together and they dig up my gardens to bury the nuts. I have asked him to stop but he won't. I've always had a vegetable garden but haven't been able to grow anything since he moved in with his elderly mother. I've been looking into getting a small greenhouse but they are pricey. Ideas would be very welcome.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • HGTVPaul
    You could do something elaborate: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/photos/gardens-photos/stylish-screen-house Or, you could do something like this for raised beds. I bet tent poles would work as well, and they are much thinner: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/photo/second-raised-veggie-bed-covered-with-deer-bird-netting-id-0000013f-369f-d06b-a53f-b7ff9c030001

    Posted 3 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Rhoda Leddy
    I have a raised bed and fencing around my garden and the squirrels STILL are anhialating my flowers. My mom uses the cheap pin wheels that blow around with the wind and she has had amazing success.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Rhoda Leddy
    I have had much success with the pinwheels. (So far) also have been using peanut butter crackers with prescription strength Ex Lax and haven't seen any squirrels! Thank you for the advice about the Ex Lax

    Posted 2 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Coti Romero Raber
    I cannot believe what I read! Killing the squirrels? They have as much right to live than any other being and yes, they do need to eat as well. Why not try a plant that they don't like? Or is they beauty of your gardens more important than life itself?

    Posted 1 month ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Sue Rodriguez
    My flowers keep getting dug up by the squirrels. I tried using chili flakes, but they still dig them up. Any other suggestions? I guess they are hiding their nuts, but why under my moss roses?

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Judy Melville Sutton
    I am having the same problem with the squirrels digging in my moss roses. I am going to try the chili flakes

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Flag this Comment

We Recommend...

How to Deal With Pests

How to Deal With Pests

Your garden will never be completely free of pests, but damage can be limited by creating barriers to keep them at bay.

See Also: