Has your yard become a playground for squirrels? Sure, these playful little creatures are fun to watch—when they're in your neighbor's yard. But when they take over your property, digging up your garden and challenging your pets, it might be time to take matters into your own hands and show them the garden gate.
What’s the Problem With Squirrels?
They're cute and playful, right? So, what's the big deal? Well, for starters, squirrels are known to wreak havoc in your gardens. They will dig up flowers, eat your greens and pluck the fruit off of your trees. They'll even cling to bird feeders and eat the food you've set out for your backyard birds.
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If there is any type of food source nearby, consider it fair game for a squirrel. And while squirrels are not a dangerous animal to you or your pets, they do cause enough problems in your yard to warrant taking steps to set boundaries.
How Do You Get Rid of Squirrels?
Like most DIY strategies, there are many different ways to get rid of squirrels. Some are known to work wonders, while others are just a big waste of time and money. Before using any type of substance to deter squirrels, research ingredients to be sure you select something non-toxic. Additionally, don' t plan on confronting, touching or otherwise potentially harming a squirrel. There are professionals who are trained to handle squirrels, and who are familiar with local laws around dealing with wildlife.
First, you may consider using your pets as squirrel deterrents. Have you seen a dog or cat chase a squirrel? It's not only entertaining, it's surprisingly effective. While it's not considered a permanent method of getting rid of squirrels, it certainly keeps them away when your pets are outside. A squirrel may see Fido or Felix as its foe, and will feel threatened enough to stay away when challenged.
Shut Down the Buffet
Despite what some animal lovers may think, squirrels are not appropriate pets, so resist the urge to feed them. This includes cat food, bird food and any other scraps that may be lying around. If you enjoy using bird feeders, make sure they are high off the ground and away from any structure or tree the squirrel can climb and leap from. Feeding squirrels emboldens them, and they'll push the boundaries as far as they can, eventually inviting themselves into your home.
Another effective approach to show squirrels the exit is to look in your kitchen. There you will find simple, non-toxic household ingredients that squirrels hate. Sprinkle cayenne pepper, pepper flakes and garlic around your yard and garden, being sure to saturate the areas that squirrels frequent the most.
If you have fruit or nut trees, make sure to clean your yard often. In addition to picking up fruit, nuts or acorns that have fallen to the ground, you might want to rake the areas around the trees in order to prevent squirrels from finding their next stash of goodies. It's also a good idea to trim tree branches that are close to your house.
Close the Perimeter
If you have a garden, you may want to protect it with a wire fence. If the squirrels can't get near the plants, they may give up and go elsewhere. You can also put netting over your plants and mulch around the area the squirrels are damaging. Since they don't like walking through the mulch, this may prevent them from digging up the bulbs.
Consider setting up a motion-activated sprinkler in any area of your yard where the squirrels are causing the most problems. When they pass by the sensor, the sprinkler will turn on and douse the squirrels with an unwanted shower. They will quickly learn that this patch of your garden or yard is less than pleasant.
Additionally, be sure there are no welcome signs on your house and close off and cover all potential entry points are.
Another effective and humane way to deter squirrels is to grow unfriendly plants, like mint. Planting mint may only have minimal success as a deterrent to keep the squirrels away as they don't like the scent. Be sure to consider placement when you plant mint, spreading it around the entire perimeter of your yard and gardens. This ensures that your yard will have a wonderful fragrance for you, but a natural deterrent for squirrels.
No matter how much mint you plant, the smell of your trash or other food source may entice squirrels beyond the border. Yes, they are small, but squirrels are also mighty. When it comes to food, they will do whatever they can to get to it. Squirrels love to jump in trash cans and eat their way out. If you have garbage outside without lids, you need to get a lid and secure it. Using bungee cords or a heavy rock, brick or piece of metal set on top of garbage cans keeps the lids secure.
There are several ready-made repellents you can buy at the store that are non-toxic and safe to use. Some are marketed specifically for getting rid of squirrels, while others are for general use to deter animals and pests. Make sure you read the label for safety before using in your yard.
Trap and Relocate
One last option for tackling your squirrel problem is to physically remove them. There are several methods for trapping squirrels, but this requires knowledge of the process, patience and special traps. You also need to consider the laws about trapping animals and wildlife. You may live in an area that requires a licensed expert to trap and relocate squirrels. If you are not comfortable with this process, consider hiring a specialist.