The adage ‘monkey see monkey do’ could just as easily apply to squirrels. These rodents are very intelligent and learn quickly from humans and from each other. If one squirrel learns how to break into your garden you can be sure that the entire trope will follow suit very soon. Add the fact that squirrels are nimble, persistent and great climbers and you find yourself on the losing side even before the battle of keeping squirrels out of your garden begins.
Squirrels eat any vegetable that you might consume including eggplant, beans, tomatoes, sunflowers, figs and bulbs so what you plant isn’t so important in the grand scheme of things.
Signs of Squirrels in the Garden
Squirrels are active during the day so there is a good chance that you will physically see the critters in your garden. Other signs of squirrels in the garden include;
- Missing fruit and bite marks on the fruit
- Shallow holes in planting beds roughly the size of a golf ball – squirrels like to unearth and eat freshly planted seeds
- Potted plants dug up – might be squirrels hiding nuts
- Missing plants
- Partially eaten flowers particularly daisies
- Nibbled seed-heads
These are good signs to put on you alert to watch your garden more closely. Other critters such as chipmunks can cause similar damage to ensure that you have physically spotted the culprit before taking control measures. Identifying the pest certainly plays a huge role in choosing the most efficient wildlife control method.
Keeping Squirrels Out of Your Garden
There are many suggestions on how to keep squirrels out of the garden with varying degrees of success. Only a handful of measures actually work.
Most DIYérs tout using home-made and non-toxic repellents such as mint, chili peppers, vinegar, predator urine, garlic or some combination of these. These have moderate success if any at all and most wildlife control experts in Canada consider them old wives’ tales. Commercial repellent sprays are also available but these tend to over-promise on the results. Squirrels are highly adaptable and eventually get used to new smells and scents. You should also be careful about what you spray on plants that you plan to consume.
Annoyances such as motion sensitive lights, sprinkler systems and high-frequency sound emitters seem gimmicky at best. Again, no serious wildlife control expert would suggest these. If they work it’s because rodents are naturally apprehensive about changes in their environment. Eventually, the squirrels will become used to these additions and continue their raid undisturbed.
You may opt to bring in a predator such as dogs and cats. An example is the Rat Terrier which is a type of dog bred specifically to hunt small animals. Cats and squirrels also don’t see eye-to-eye and a feline companion may be enough to keep the rodents away. Some homeowners have gone as far as to attract natural predators such as owls and hawks but be sure that the new animals won’t cause as much trouble or even more than the squirrels you are attempting to chase away.
By far the best way to keep squirrels out of your garden is to install physical barriers using wire mesh, aluminum flashing, netting and/or fencing. Laying wire mesh on the topsoil is a great way to discourage squirrels from digging up your garden. Simply lay the mesh on the spots you have noticed the most squirrel activity.
A wire mesh barrier around your garden bed or potted plants are also a great way to keep the squirrels at bay. It may not be a visually attractive garden but at least it will cause the critters to look for some other yard to invade. Installing at least a quarter inch galvanized mesh fencing all around your garden is an equally great solution. Be sure to bury the fence at least a few inches into the ground since squirrels can dig under and through the barrier.
Protect your trees by wrapping them with aluminum flashing. Some people suggest that the glare from the aluminum keeps the rodents away. The more plausible explanation is the flashing keeps the squirrels from gnawing on the tree and creates a slippery surface for the otherwise nimble.
Additional measures include;
- Trimming your tree branches or reducing the number of trees on your property if possible
- Designate a specific area of your garden for squirrels. Install a feeder with sunflower seeds, plant a few tomatoes and provide some drinking water. Hopefully, this will distract the squirrels from the rest of the garden
- Keep a tidy garden by picking up seeds, fruits and nuts as soon as they fall to discourage squirrels from coming to forage in your garden
- Replace bird feeders with squirrel-proof alternatives and keep these away from fences, trees and other places where squirrels like to climb
Hire a Professional Wildlife Removal Company
Keep in mind that it is illegal to harm wildlife in Canada. You may be liable to steep fines if you harm squirrels while trapping them even by accident. It is also illegal to transport wildlife for more than a kilometre without the proper permits.
Keeping squirrels out of your garden successfully requires multiple measures and deep knowledge of squirrel behaviour. A wildlife removal expert can guarantee that the rodents stay out of your garden for good with little aesthetic or other damage to your garden. Call a professional as soon as possible after spotting the squirrels in your garden. It is only a matter of time before they nest in your attic, inside walls, under the deck or in other spaces where they will difficult to track and remove.