Want to learn how to keep squirrels away from your yard?
Squirrels are cute and can be fun to watch, but they can also cause you a lot of problems. If you find squirrels are causing chaos in your yard you’ll need to find ways to keep them away. Finding the most effective methods will help save you a lot of time, money, and stress from dealing with their destruction.
This guide will take you through 12 easy and natural methods to deter squirrels from coming to your yard.
If you’re in a hurry then check out the products I recommend for keeping squirrels away. But remember to bookmark this page to come back and read up on why I recommend them.
First, let’s look at why squirrels can quickly become a pest animal if they go unchecked in your yard.
Why do you need to Keep Squirrels Away?
Squirrels Build Nests
One of the biggest risks of having squirrels in your yard is that it’s an attractive place for them to build a nest and raise their young. They can easily find their way into your house through the roof, vents, or gaps in walls.
A squirrel that finds its way into your home can damage insulation and wiring, which is costly to fix.
Squirrels are destructive
Squirrels can be extremely destructive animals. They like to forage around for food and will chew and scratch to get what they need.
Squirrels can quickly destroy your landscaping including trees, plants, and crops. They will even dig holes around your yard to try and cache their food away for wintertime.
Squirrels carry disease
Squirrels can carry a few diseases that they can pass on to humans and pets. A squirrel that is active in your yard can pass these diseases on through bites, scratches, or waste.
The most common diseases squirrels carry are ringworm, tularaemia, and typhus. They are also common carriers of fleas, ticks, and mites which can easily pass on to your pets.
Squirrels Eat Bird Food
If you’re a keen backyard birdwatcher you may be offering bird seed to attract the birds. Squirrels enjoy seeds and grains as part of their diet, so they’ll happily raid these feeders themselves. The problem is that squirrels can empty feeders really quickly. That means your birds are left without a food supply and you’re shelling out a lot of money for the squirrels to deplete your supplies.
Squirrels cost you money
A large number of squirrels in your yard can become a pest control issue. That means they’ll cost you money somewhere along the line. That may be from clean-up services, vet bills, medical bills, replacing bird seed, or hiring professionals to fix the damage.
The best way to stop any of these problems from occurring is to deter the squirrels from coming into your yard in the first place.
The good news is that there are a few methods you can use to deter squirrels from coming into your yard without harming them. You want to make your garden as unattractive as possible to stop them from wanting to build a nest or forage for food.
Let’s take a look at what methods will work best for you.
12 ways to keep squirrels away
1. Use Physical Barriers
The tricky thing about squirrels is that they are good climbers and can squeeze through small spaces. Fences and hedges won’t be of much use in keeping them out.
For squirrels, it’s best to protect an individual area of your yard with a physical barrier. That means any plants, crops, or trees can be spared from the squirrels going on a garden rampage.
The best types of barriers to use are chicken wire, non-chew netting, and tree tubes. These stop the squirrels from being able to dig or chew, which will kill off your plants.
2. Sort Out Your Birdfeeders
Having bird feeders is a sure-fire way to attract squirrels into your yard. The feeders are an easy way for squirrels to get a regular and nutritious source of food. They will easily empty your feeders if they get the chance.
The best way to stop a squirrel from getting into existing feeders is to use a squirrel baffle. This will stop them from being able to climb onto any type of feeder you have. It will also stop the squirrels from jumping off a nearby surface and onto your feeder.
Another way to stop them is to cut off their supply of food. One way you can do this is using a weight-activated feeder (like this one). These allow light birds to get the seed but close a shutter when the heavier squirrels try to eat. Another is to use a caged guard around your feeders (this one is highly recommended)
3. Use Owl Power
Squirrels are scared of owls as they are one of their main predators. Squirrels don’t want to be anywhere near an owl and will naturally stay clear if they think one is near.
You can use this to your advantage by using a plastic owl decoy in your yard. The good thing about this method is that it’s fairly cheap and you can usually pick one of these up for under $20. You’ll be able to place these easily around your yard. I would highly recommend moving them around so the squirrels’ don’t become accustomed to them. Once the squirrels realize the owls don’t move they’ll lose their effect.
4. Spray predator urine
Owls are not the only predator that has squirrels on edge. They can be a tasty meal for other animals including foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. The last thing the squirrels want is to be close to where one of these animals can easily kill them.
A good indicator that a predator is in the area is the scent of their urine. Squirrels can detect the scent of these animals as a way to keep themselves safe.
Spraying predator urine around your yard is an easy way to make squirrels think a predator is in the area marking their territory.
For squirrels, the two best predator urines to use are coyote or fox urine (I recommend this one). Try to spray it around areas where you’ve seen the squirrels. The stronger the scent they come into contact with the closer they think the predator is.
5. Try Spices
One really easy way to deter squirrels with something you probably have in your pantry is using kitchen spices. Squirrels hate anything that contains capsicum. The smell really irritates their noses and makes it too uncomfortable to forage.
The spices which work well are:
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- Flaked Chilli’s
- Hot sauce
You can sprinkle these around in areas you frequently see the squirrels. They soon get it on their paws and in their mouths.
Another great way is to use bird seed which already has chili added to it (I recommend this one). The bird can’t taste it so they don’t mind. Yet the squirrels detest it and won’t come back for more.
You can also buy a squirrel hot sauce that can be used on your plants to stop the squirrel from eating them. Avoid this option if you have young kids or pets who may come into contact with your plants.
6. Use Safflower
If nothing else is working in your feeders then start offering safflower seed. Squirrels hate safflower seed. Once you start using this in your feeders, you’ll no longer have squirrels emptying them.
Safflower seed tastes bitter to squirrels so they really don’t like it. Yet the birds love it and it will be a favorite of backyard birds such as cardinals, chickadees, and jays.
I recommend using golden safflower seed (like this one from Lyric). This type has a softer shell which makes it easier for the small birds to eat, and keep out larger bully birds.
Safflower seed is more expensive than other bird seeds so I recommend using it in a mix to help you to stretch out a bag a bit longer.
7. Try ultrasonic sounds
To make squirrels avoid your house like the plague then use an ultrasonic sound repellent. These release pressure waves which are high-pitched noises that squirrels can’t stand. This is the best-rated electronic squirrel repellent on amazon.
This constant sound makes your home a really poor environment for squirrels to want to stay and build a nest. The good news is that they usually work quite well on other pests such as insects, rats, and mice. This is a good thing because other rodents are usually found close to where the squirrels are.
You may need more than one if you have a larger house with a few floors.
8. Sprinkle them
One annoying thing about squirrels is that, unlike other nocturnal animals, they will raid your yard in broad daylight. This means they aren’t easily deterred by sudden noise or light like nocturnal eaters are.
They are however scared by sharp sudden sprays of water. That means using a motion detector sprinkler can work well for squirrels. I’d say this option is more suited for you trying to keep squirrels away from specific parts of your lawn. Otherwise, the squirrels are too small and active for the sensors to find them every time.
9. Smell Deterrents
Squirrels have certain smells that they can become easily irritated by. You can use this against them to keep them away from your yard.
Smells that squirrels don’t like are
- Apple cider vinegar
- Irish spring soap
You can spray or sprinkle these scents around areas of your yard with heavy squirrel traffic to naturally deter them.
Remember that if it’s raining you’ll need to frequently reapply the scent, otherwise it will get washed away and the squirrels will be back.
This method is great to use alongside some of the others in the list for best results.
10. Clean Up
One problem with your yard is that it’s far too attractive for squirrels. That’s usually to do with the offer of a good food supply.
The main culprit is normally bird seed. Yet there are other food sources the squirrels could be getting to.
The first one is your garbage. Squirrels will happily raid your garbage for food scraps. Making sure you have a trashcan with a secure lid is the best way to stop this.
Also, try not to put out the trash until the last minute on collection day to reduce their exposure to the smells. You can read our guide on how to keep raccoons out of your trash as these tips work on squirrels too.
If you have nut trees near your yard then make sure you have a regular clean-up. Nuts and acorns that are lying around your yard are ideal for squirrels. They will happily collect them all and then start burying them to come back to later. A regular clean-up reduces the chances of the squirrels carrying out this behavior near your yard.
11. Plant things they don’t like
If you’re a keen gardener this is a great way to keep squirrels out of your yard. You can use your landscaping skills against the squirrels.
There are some flowers that repel squirrels either because of their scent or they are just toxic to them. That makes them ideal to use as a border around other plants to create a defensive barrier in your yard.
Some plants squirrels hate are:
- Bleeding hearts
This method can usually work pretty well, but it’s can only be used at certain seasons of the year.
12. Try Plant fertilizers
There are a few gardening fertilizers you can use to keep squirrels away from your yard. Not only do squirrels hate the taste but they also can’t stand the smell of these.
The three types you can try are:
- Blood meal
- Epsom Salts
These three fertilizers are fantastic for keeping squirrels away but also for fertilizing your soil. That means your plants stay healthy from good soil and also because squirrels aren’t eating them or destroying the roots.
It’s best to sprinkle some of the fertilizer around areas you’re concerned about the squirrels using. The smells and the sensations they give the squirrels when digging are off-putting for them.
These fertilizers may take some work, especially in rainy weather. However, if you’re a keen gardener it takes only a few minutes to replenish what’s been washed away.
4 Methods not to use on squirrels
In a guide about deterring squirrels, you may have noticed there are certain methods I haven’t mentioned.
That’s because there are humane ways to get rid of squirrels without harming or killing them. It’s possible to live in harmony with these little critters to let them do what nature intended, just not in your yard!
The main issue with a lot of these methods is that they deal with one squirrel. As soon as that one is gone, another will come to replace them. You need to fix the environment, not the individual squirrel.
Let’s look at a few methods you should never use on squirrels.
1. Glue Traps
Using a glue trap to capture squirrels in your yard is extremely cruel. A squirrel trapped in one of these will die a slow and painful death. They may also cause them a serious injury that makes them vulnerable to other animals or diseases.
These traps may also capture other animals such as birds which you probably won’t intend to.
Using poison to kill animals is pretty dangerous to do. Not only will the poison affect the squirrel but it’s likely to spread to lots of different wildlife as it moves up the food chain.
Poison is also very dangerous if you have animals or children who have access to your yard.
You’ve probably read advice that you should grease your bird poles to stop squirrels from climbing them. Usually, they suggest using slippery substances like oil, Vaseline, or menthol vapor rub.
Do not follow this advice.
It will make the surface slippery, but it’s a bigger danger to the squirrels and the nearby birds.
Any wildlife that comes into contact with the grease is at risk of having grease transferred to their fur or feathers. This can expose those animals to disease or reduce their ability to stay warm and dry.
4. Trapping and relocation
Trapping and relocating a squirrel is a great way to spend a lot of money for a very short-term fix. These services can get pricey, and you’ll need to do this every time you have a squirrel in your yard.
More squirrels will come along to replace them and the cycle continues.
Moving squirrels to a different location is also pretty cruel, as they are usually attacked and killed soon after relocation. If it’s a mother squirrel she may be moved from her nest and her babies will die without her feeding and protecting them.
There are lots of humane ways you can keep squirrels away from your yard. We’ve gone through 12 ways you can deter squirrels without causing them harm.
All these methods are using the squirrel’s natural instincts and senses against them. They’re all fairly inexpensive and easy to maintain.
I’d highly recommend using a few methods together to get the best results. You may even want to rotate a few every so often to make sure the squirrels stay away for good.
Once they realize your yard isn’t very attractive to stay in then they’ll avoid it as much as possible.
Your yard will become a squirrel-free zone in no time.