Squirrels may look cute, but they can be a huge nuisance to homeowners causing damage and disruption which can quickly accumulate and become frustrating.
Unfortunately, squirrels are wily, smart, mobile, and fast making them very difficult to deter. However, there are steps you can take to prevent squirrels from entering your property and causing your disruption.
There are a surprising number of potential solutions to suit various situations, and in this article, we’re going to list 15 of the absolute best methods to get rid of squirrels whether they’re digging up bulbs from your plant pots, stealing bird feed, or seeds or antagonizing your pets.
Whether you think they’re cute or not, squirrels are vermin, and just like you wouldn’t want to put up with a rat problem, you shouldn’t have to put up with a squirrel problem either.
Let’s take a look at the potential solutions available to you.
Methods to Keep Squirrels Off Your Property
1. Hide or remove any Food Sources
The first thing you can do to prevent squirrels from entering your property is to remove any reason for them to be there in the first place. Squirrels are notoriously greedy and curious animals and are always on the lookout for their next meal.
Making sure you remove or hide any potential food sources is a great way to easily reduce the chance that a squirrel comes knocking, and it’s also easy and doesn’t require any specialist knowledge or equipment.
2. Pet Patrol
If you have pets, they can be a great deterrent to squirrels, and this can have the added bonus of preventing other critters from sniffing around your yard. Dogs will chase away squirrels quite easily, and cats will often do the same.
Squirrels are nervous creatures and will often flee or startle at any nearby movement, and won’t tend to fight unless truly backed into a corner, which seldom happens as they are one of the most dextrous rodents in the world, capable of climbing sheer surfaces and trees with ease.
Be warned, however, that squirrels can carry a host of nasty diseases so don’t put your pet in harm’s way unless you’re willing to deal with them potentially getting hurt. Squirrels are unlikely to attempt to fight your animal, but if they are given no choice they have a nasty bite that can not only cause an ugly wound but spread all sorts of diseases and infections.
3. Protect Your Bird Feeder
One of the main attractions for squirrels is a bird feeder. After all, if someone dangled a picnic basket full of our favorite food and it was free for all I’m sure anyone would be tempted to try and snag a bite to eat.
The best thing you can do to prevent this without totally removing your bird feeder is to hang it high from a pole and away from any nearby trees or bushes. You can also use a squirrel guard to protect the feed and the pole, reducing the chance of a squirrel getting to the food and thus reducing the chances of them returning once they realize they can’t actually get an easy meal.
4. Set up Sprinklers
Squirrels are often easily startled, so one of the best ways to scare them away without having to put yourself or your pet in harm’s way is to set up a sprinkler system. When the sprinklers turn on the squirrel will often be taken by surprise and will usually retreat when faced with an unexpected stimulus.
This may not always work and the squirrel may get wise to this eventually, but when used in conjunction with other deterrents it’s a viable choice, particularly as many people already have sprinkler systems to use.
5. Keep Your Garden Clean
Another very simple deterrent is to keep your yard clean. Make sure your trash is secure and can’t be easily accessed by rats and other vermin like squirrels.
Piles of junk and overgrown plants also make a fertile breeding ground and hiding place for curious squirrels seeking their next meal, so keeping everything well-groomed will make finding squirrels much easier and deterring them much easier.
6. Use Nets
Some plants are too big to be properly protected, particularly berry bushes. One of the best ways to protect these plants and their fruits is to use a net that can deter or prevent the squirrel from accessing the plant without causing the plant itself any harm.
This will make your garden and porch less appealing as it will again prevent squirrels from seeing your home as a free source of food.
7. Install Fencing
This may seem like a slightly futile gesture, after all, squirrels will be able to find a way over or through most fences quite easily.
While this is true, it just makes your yard and porch that little bit more difficult to access, and can make other deterrents more effective. It's also great for keeping out other unwanted creatures who may be attracted to the things which are attracting those pesky squirrels.
8. Plant Some Mint
Mint is a plant with a very strong scent, and while this is a refreshing and pleasant smell to us humans, a lot of animals find it off putting or downright overwhelming.
Squirrels are one of these animals which are averse to particularly powerful scenes, so using a few mint plants to surround your garden or porch is a great way to make your home a less appealing target for squirrels, who may decide they don’t want to eat around such a powerful smell.
Again, when combined with other deterrents this can be a very effective method of prevention and it’s easy to move potted mint around to wherever you need it.
9. Sprinkle Some Cayenne or Black Pepper Around Your Property
Staying with the theme of scents and deterrents, spices and peppers can be a hugely successful deterrent which again uses squirrels’ incredibly strong sense of smell against them.
Cayenne or black pepper can be sprinkled around your porch or your garden perimeter quite easily and won’t have a big effect on other wildlife but it will give squirrels a nasty surprise the next time they try to creep into your yard.
Using fences to funnel squirrels into particular routes and adding extra pepper in these areas can also work great to make your yard safer and less appealing to vermin.
10. Digging Prevention
Squirrels are avid diggers, both to hide and find sources of food. They particularly enjoy bulbs and other delicious foods which are often precious to gardeners, and this makes them a real nuisance and can attract squirrels into your garden or porch quite easily.
To stop this, consider using a digging prevention method such as burying chicken wire below the top layer of soil in your vegetable patch of the pot.
This will make it much more difficult for the squirrel to access this food source and again create a difficult and inhospitable environment for them to feed in.
Chicken wire works well for this but other similar options would work just as well, all it needs is to be strong and perforated as well as readily available.
11. Use a Repellant
There are plenty of options for repellants when it comes to squirrels. Some of these are more pungent than others, such as foxes urine which will definitely tell squirrels your garden or porch is off-limits.
The drawback is that these repellents can be quite pungent and a little more expensive, but they do have a great track record of prevention. They’re best used at the extremities of your property where you don’t have to put up with the smell of the repellant and where it can be used liberally.
Again, this is a great option when paired with other deterrents such as pepper and mint, and providing you aren’t disturbed by these different smells they will each multiply your chance of deterring squirrels.
12. Cut Down or Prune Trees on Your Property
This is a more extreme option but can be the only way to permanently deter squirrels. Pruning trees that overhang onto your property will make it far less likely for squirrels to take a fancy to your porch and plants, and cutting down trees will deprive them of a home on your doorstep as well as an easy route up and over your various deterrents.
This is an extreme, time-consuming, and sometimes expensive option, but if you’re resolved to fixing this problem once and for all this is definitely one approach to consider.
13. NEVER EVER FEED THEM
Some people find squirrels cute, and there are a host of animations that have given people this idea. This can often lead people to feed squirrels from the hand at picnics or barbecues, and this is one of the best ways to ensure the squirrel will now see you and your garden as open for business when it comes to food.
Never encourage squirrels or other animals by feeding them, it can cause a long-term nuisance for property owners and is often unhealthy for the animal as well!
14. Install Live Traps
A great humane option is to use a selection of live traps to catch squirrels and other rodents lurking on your porch. You will then be able to take them somewhere in the wild and release them so that they’re nowhere near your home and less likely to make a return visit.
While deterring squirrels isn’t a simple matter, there are plenty of options open to you, allowing you to take some proactive steps to limit or reduce squirrel activity on your property.
The best way to ensure you get rid of squirrels is to combine several of these preventative measures, to multiply the chance of success and drive away squirrels for good.