Some people love to see the fluffy tails of squirrels bouncing around the yard, but others know just how destructive these fluffy rodents can be. Squirrels can munch on your veggie garden and fruit trees, dig up flower bulbs, gnaw on wooden furniture, and make holes in your well-manicured lawn where they bury food for winter. It's unrealistic to keep every squirrel out of every tree in your yard, but you can make your property less appealing to reduce the number of squirrel visitors.
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Avoid Feeding Squirrels
If you want to get rid of squirrels, you don't likely have a squirrel feeder in your yard, but you could have other appealing sources of food that are attracting the critters. Bird feeders attract squirrels because of the free source of food. Even if you take steps to keep squirrels off your bird feeders, there can be seeds on the ground that make an ideal squirrel snack. Consider removing the bird feeder or cleaning up the seeds underneath regularly to eliminate the food source for the squirrels.
Some trees that grow in your yard could also attract squirrels. They'll eat nuts and fruits that grow on trees. Short of removing the tree, it's tough to remove this food source. However, it's a good idea to regularly clean up the food sources that fall from the tree.
Grow Unappealing Plants
If one of your concerns is protecting your plants from squirrels, changing what you plant could help. Incorporate plants that squirrels don't like in your flower garden or around your vegetable garden to deter them from your yard. You can also plant these squirrel-repelling flowers along your property line or near the trees you want to protect from squirrels. Some options include daffodils (Narcissus), grape hyacinths (Muscari), and snowdrops (Galanthus). Squirrels also dislike peppermint (Mentha × piperita), so plant it in places where you want to discourage squirrels.
Install Squirrel Baffles
Making your yard less appealing to discourage squirrels from coming near can help, but some squirrels will likely still slip through and make it to your trees. Wrap a 2-foot-high section of sheet metal around the trunk of the tree at 6 feet high when damage is most likely. The metal makes it impossible for squirrels to climb up the trunk, but they can still jump to the tree from other trees or utility lines. Leaving the metal on the tree long-term can promote insect damage or sun scald, so this option should only be used temporarily.
Use Squirrel Repellents
Spraying or sprinkling things that repel squirrels around your trees might help temporarily. Capsaicin in peppers is one example. You can use a variety of forms of peppers, including cayenne pepper powder and pepper flakes, that you can sprinkle in strategic areas to repel squirrels. You can also find commercial squirrel repellents that contain capsaicin. You'll need to repel these products frequently, especially after it rains.
Scare Them With Dogs
If you have dogs, encourage them to spend as much time as possible in the yard to keep critters away from your garden, as long as the weather is suitable. They'll bark and chase the squirrels, which can discourage them from hanging around your house. Holding onto your dog's hair from grooming sessions or asking for hair from another dog person if you don't have a dog, can also help. Sprinkle the hair in strategic spots to discourage squirrels.