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 17 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.

17 Comments About this Article

  • 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 5 months ago

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  • 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 4 months ago

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  • 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 4 months ago

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  • 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 3 months ago

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  • 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 3 months ago

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  • 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 3 months ago

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  • Tina Marie Bell
    I couldn't believe what I saw! My tomatoes which I watch close were disappearing. I couldn't figure it out. When I came home today two squirrels on my porch one was digging up my basil and the other was watching and a green tomato was laying there with teeth marks on it. I had no idea it would of been squirrels. I just applied the red flacks and I'm going to get pin wheels. If that doesn't work I'm getting the lax. Does that kill them?

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • Joe macAdams
    I relocate them and other varmints from my garden .I use a box trap .I placed a trail camera in my yard and you would be surprised at what goes on in your at night.

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • Carl Jefferson
    You suggest the use of hot peppers to get rid of these varmints. Well, what do you do when they have aquired the taste of your hot peppers. There has been many a time when I have gone out to the garden only to see were they have nibbled way the peppers.

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • Dawn Gunner Taillon
    I think we need to make gardens in dog runs and sitting areas next to them to enjoy them. I guess we'd have to put smaller wire all around it and under it or raise it up on stilts and put it on a sold bottom base to keep the climbers from climbing in and through the chain link kennel. But it would work for those of us who must have some plants that critters must eat if available at the buffet.

    Posted 1 month ago

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