If you have a yard, if there is a tree, or if you pretty much live anywhere in the US, there is a good chance that there are squirrels around you. Though they might look cute sometimes, they can wreak havoc on your garden.
In most cases, squirrels are active during the day, and you will probably see them running through your yard or climbing up and down trees. They might scamper along fences or run through the lawn. These critters most certainly will end up in your raised garden bed.
How can you keep squirrels out of raised garden beds? There are a number of methods, which are discussed later on in this article. First, though, let’s talk about signs that squirrels may be invading your raised beds.
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Signs of Squirrels in Your Garden
Just because you don’t see a squirrel, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In fact, they are pretty skittish around people, so it’s highly likely that you wouldn’t see a squirrel in your garden at all. Thankfully, they leave signs.
One common sign that you might encounter is small, shallow holes in your garden. They usually are quite small, and they look like a hole a dog might dig. This is where they are digging out the seeds you just planted, which are tasty treats for the squirrel population.
Another sign that squirrels may be in your garden is bite marks on your plants. Alternatively, you might notice fruit that is missing or fruit that might have bite marks out of it.
For instance, you might notice a tomato looks half eaten…odds are pretty good that a squirrel had the other half for its lunch. Other favorite foods of squirrels include cucumbers, beans, eggplants, and squash.
Have you looked at your garden and noticed that a plant is totally missing? You may be able to blame a squirrel. Sometimes they will pull the enter plant out of the ground in search for something delicious to eat.
Missing some seedheads? Again, this is a favorite food of squirrels, and they love to grab a passing snack as they are going throughout their day. They especially love plants with nice, big seeds like sunflowers.
Are your containers missing dirt or look like someone was digging inside of them? It very well could be a squirrel! Squirrels love to hide their treasured nuts, and they really like to bury them. Your raised garden or containers make the perfect place to hide their food.
Finally, you might notice that some of your flowers are missing the petals. They love flowers, too, including daisies. If you see daisies that are missing petals and the center area, it’s a good indication that the squirrels are eating them!
How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden
In many areas, squirrels are extremely common, and you can see one almost at any point of the day. So, if you want to keep them out of your raised garden beds, the best thing to do is try to outsmart them.
Thankfully, we have some methods that can help. Just keep in mind that what works on one squirrel might not work on another, so try to combine these ideas for the best possible outcome.
Stop Attracting Them
One of the things that you can do is stop attracting them in the first place. Things like fallen nuts, seeds, or fruit can really attract squirrels. So, you should make sure to pick them up when you notice them.
Also, squirrels have a way of getting into garbage cans, so make sure to secure the lids each time you open them.
Consider Repelling Them
You can also use some type of repellant for squirrels. For example, they are known to stay away from capsaicin, which is found in hot peppers. This is what gives them the fiery heat! So, spreading hot pepper flakes might work for some squirrels.
Peppermint oil is another repellant that squirrels don’t like. Many people will spread peppermint oil around the garden or even combine the oil with hot pepper extract or hot pepper flakes.
Commercial repellents are also available from local garden centers.
If you are going to use a repellent, it is important that you remember a few things. For instance, you should make sure that you reapply the repellant each time it rains. You also don’t want to put any repellant, even natural ones, on any fruit that you might be eating.
Offer a Distraction
Another way to keep squirrels out of your raised garden beds is to try to distract them. One way to do this is to set up a decoy station and fill it with things the squirrels like, such as feed corn, peanuts, or sunflower seeds.
If you do this, the feeding station should be as far from the garden as possible, away from your plants. Some people also plant a couple of food plants and set up a water station, in an attempt to keep the squirrels happy.
Remember, if you are attracting squirrels, you can also attract other critters, so keep that in mind if you try this method.
Make Them Afraid
People often try to scare the squirrels away from their garden, too. If you have a cat or dog, this can be quite helpful. If you don’t have a dog or cat, you can buy commercial treatments for your garden area that smells like the urine of predators.
If you go with this option, you have to re-apply the chemical after it rains.
Another option to scare the squirrels is to use a sprinkler with a motion-activated sensor. Essentially, when the squirrel walks by, it squirts the squirrel with water.
You can also add additions to your gardens such as pinwheels or other items that might make noise or move. The squirrels will likely not like these and stay away. Remember, though, this might not work on every squirrel.
Consider also inviting flying squirrel predators into your yard like owls and hawks. The squirrels won’t stick around if they notice a large bird circling overhead.
Keep Them Out
You can keep your squirrels out of your bed or plants by installing a cover or cage over the raised bed. Netting, chicken wire, cloth, or row covers can all help. You can also make a cover for individual plants. For instance, you can cover your tomatoes but leave your peppers open.
If you have fruits that are ripe, you should also harvest them as soon as possible, as a squirrel is much more likely to want a ripe offering than one that is still green.
Add Some Mulch
You can try to stop digging by covering your soil with mulch. This, of course, must be done after planting and having established plants.
Finally, you might consider trapping and moving the squirrels. The only problem with this method is that as soon as you remove the squirrels, others are going to move right in.
There is also the fact that squirrels are considered to be game in many areas, so it might actually be illegal in your area to catch and release them.
There you have it! Several methods that you can use to keep squirrels out of raised garden beds. Remember, it’s best to combine several of these for the best possible results.