Frugal Tricks for Keeping Squirrels Out of Your Garden

by Reader Contributors

DIY Landscaping for Less photo

Are squirrels digging up your garden goodies? Use these inexpensive, humane tricks to control squirrels and keep them from destroying your garden.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Do you know of something that will keep squirrels out of my garden? They are a nuisance! They destroy my tomatoes and dig up other plants.

I don’t want to hurt the squirrels nor do I want to spend a lot getting rid of them.
Dee H.

Frugal Tricks to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

We also do battle with squirrels in our yard. We are currently reading a library book entitled Squirrel Wars. Basically, you have a couple of choices.

You can repeatedly sprinkle cayenne around your plants (However, they do adjust, or if they are really hungry, they will eat it anyway), cage them out with very tight chicken wire with a roof and wall that they can’t dig under, or set up a station in your yard where you feed them their favorite foods. You can also try mothballs, but that may not work to protect your whole garden.

I’d heartily recommend reading Squirrel Wars. The book also covers raccoons, possums, deer, skunks, bears, etc.
Brenda in WA

Hot Pepper Keeps Controls Squirrels in Garden

The best advice I can give about getting rid of squirrels is to use hot pepper. Buy a container of ground cayenne pepper in the spice section at your local dollar store. Sprinkle it all over the plants and also all along the top of the soil and around the base of the stems. The squirrels can’t stand the smell and it makes them sneeze.

Unfortunately, when using this method, you’ll have to re-apply the pepper after heavy wind and rains. Another alternative is something you can purchase online. It’s called “hot pepper wax spray.” It comes in a regular spray bottle and you spray it all over your plants. It stays on for one month, even through rain! It claims to keep bugs away as well.

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Marigolds Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

I live near the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County, Virginia. As you know, the area is rural, mainly farm land. We have an abundance of wild critters to deal with, namely squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, raccoons, deer, etc. The best solution is to plant marigolds. Yes, marigolds keep squirrels away!

On one side of my garden is my onions and garlic. On the other sides of the garden, as well as all in between, are marigold plants. Since they don’t like the smell of marigolds, they do not venture into the area. They also don’t bother my flowers because there are marigolds everywhere and where there isn’t any I transplant them. If you plant a few plants and dead head them when the blooms begin to fade and let them fall where they may, you will have an abundance of plants the next year without having to buy new plants.

Marigolds also act as a deterrent for insects thus eliminating the need to use pesticides.
Karen in Amherst, Virginia

Send Squirrels Packing

Red fox urine will drive away squirrels, rats, mice, cats, etc. You can pick it up at a natural gardening store or even from an exterminator. You can buy in pellet form or liquid. The pellet form is generally the easiest to use. Just sprinkle it around you garden.

Quench the Critters’ Thirst to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

At my local nursery, I was told that the reason squirrels eat tomatoes is that they’re thirsty. He suggested leaving a bowl of water by the tomatoes for the squirrels to drink. I haven’t tried this personally, but I am going to follow his advice this summer.

Here Kitty, Kitty

I found that putting used cat litter around my plants helps to keep the squirrels away. They seem to think a cat is lurking and that they had better move on.

Fool Them

I have had success with buying toy plastic snakes and placing them in various spots in my garden. Since starting this, I have had no problem with squirrels or birds eating my edibles.

Reviewed June 2023

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