How to get rid of squirrels in the garden: deter these pests from your plot

Wondering how to get rid of squirrels in the garden? We've got lots of tips on how to naturally ward these critters off

how to get rid of squirrels in the garden walking on fence
(Image credit: Joel Hartz/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Wondering how to get rid of squirrels in the garden? These bright-eyed, bushy-tailed creatures might look adorable. But, if you've had one too many of them visiting – or even living in – your garden, then you'll know they can be quite the burden.

Digging up bulbs, tearing up the lawn, taking fruit from your trees, nesting in your shed or loft and gnawing through timber... A squirrel infestation can quickly get out of hand and turn from cute to downright destructive. 

But there's no need to panic or get pest control on the line just yet. Whether you're already dealing with a squirrel invasion or are just on the lookout for some precautionary measures, there are lots of simple and humane ways to deter them. 

So, if you want to find out how to get rid of squirrels in the garden – without forking out for the professionals – then our advice will help you on your way. And if you're looking for more pest-repelling tricks, our guide on how to get rid of carpenter bees might also come in handy.

How to get rid of squirrels in the garden: 7 natural methods to try

1. Use odors that they don't like

mint growing to deter squirrels

Want to know how to get rid of squirrels in the garden? Strongly-scented mint can help to deter them

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Turns out those twitchy little noses are rather picky when it comes to odors, and some smells squirrels simply cannot stand. Try scattering coffee grounds in your borders (the soil will benefit, too), or adding pots of mint to your patio (great for mojitos) – squirrels hate the odor of both. You could also try mixing a few drops of peppermint oil and water into a spray bottle and dousing areas in the garden where they're proving to be a pain.

They also have a strong distaste for chilli, so scattering chilli flakes – or cayenne, white, or black pepper – can send them on their way. Some people have even tried diluting hot sauce with water and spritzing it around their yard. If it rains, don't forget to reapply. 

Alternatively, you can buy scented repellent from stores for a reasonable price.

2. Plant strongly-scented flowers

terracotta pots of alliums

Alliums look lovely in a border but squirrels dislike their scent and taste

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Speaking of odor, there are also some fragranced flowers that aren't to squirrels' tastes. We might love the delicate scent of hyacinths or lily-of-the-valley on a warm spring breeze, but these little critters won't want to come too close.

Similarly, they're not a fan of the oniony-scent of the allium family, so adding these to your borders can help to ward them off. Plus, they're a great way to add architectural structure to a garden, and are super-easy to grow (which is why they're one of our best plants for beginners).

Opting for these plants alone is unlikely to be enough if you're looking for surefire ways on how to get rid of squirrels in the garden – but combined with other approaches, it will certainly help.

3. Use the power of ultrasound

Squirrels are relatively skittish animals, meaning that they're generally on high-alert from potential predators. And one thing that will give them a startle – enough to scare them off – is noise. 

You'll be pleased to know that there are more sociable methods than simply blasting your radio outdoors all day long. Squirrels, and as it turns out, many other rodents, are sensitive to sounds that humans simply cannot hear. So, there are now repellers available to buy that will send out ultrasonic sound waves when they detect movement. Some are even solar-powered for minimum maintenance.

Clever, right?

4. Stop squirrels from reaching your loft

jumping grey squirrel

Squirrels are impressive acrobats, so keep branches and vines away from your loft

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Squirrels in the loft is a nightmare for all sorts of reasons. Once they settle in, they'll quite happily chew through wires and timber and make a large, messy nest. Not to mention, the noise of them scampering around can be annoying and rather disconcerting, especially if you're trying to work or sleep.

The best way to prevent them from making a home in your loft is by making sure they can't get in in the first place. As the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says, it's a good idea to cut back trees or branches that overhang a building. If you've got some of the best climbing plants or foliage clambering up your home's exterior, it might be worth checking that these can't double up as a pathway to your roof, too.

You should also proof any potential gaps or entrances, the BPCA continues, with the likes of tightly-wedged mesh or metal plates. Squirrels are surprisingly strong, so make sure that they're sturdily fixed.

5. Try a motion-activated sprinkler

No one, not even a squirrel, wants to be soaked with water by surprise. So, if you're wondering how to get rid of squirrels, then how about investing in a motion-activated sprinkler? That way, whenever they encroach across your yard, they'll get a blast of cold H2O that'll send them packing.

The best garden sprinklers are great for keeping your lawn looking tip-top, too.

6. Add a decoy predator

decoy owl to get rid of squirrels from garden

A decoy owl can scare squirrels off

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Squirrels are only little, so are naturally inclined to scamper whenever they feel threatened. 

A decoy owl can work wonders. Okay, it might not be one of the lawn decoration ideas that you had in mind, but even if it's tucked out of direct eyesight for you, you can bet it will still be spotted by your intruders.

7. Let your pets out

corgi dog in daffodils

A barking dog is a surefire way to get rid of squirrels

(Image credit: Holly Hildreth/Moment/Getty Images)

Are you a dog or cat owner? Then you might already know, from jaunts in the park, that they love to chase squirrels. 

Use this to your advantage and let them out in the garden next time you spot a squirrel up to no good. They're most likely to chase it out and the little critter will opt for a safer place to visit next time.

To repay the favor and keep your four-legged friends safe, don't forget to keep an eye out for the most poisonous plants for dogs and plants that are poisonous to cats in your backyard.

Why do squirrels dig in potted plants?

grey squirrel on flowerpot

Squirrels like to bury their food in pots

(Image credit: Taya Johnston/Alamy Stock Photo)

Are your container gardening ideas getting trashed? You may have noticed that it's squirrels to blame. But why?

Well, squirrels like to stash their food in preparation for the winter, and hiding it in the ground keeps it safe from birds. Planters full of soft compost are tempting storage solutions as they are so easy to dig in. Try placing large pebbles around the top of the soil to deter them (it looks attractive too), or mix in coffee grounds.

Can vinegar get rid of squirrels?

Just like vinegar can come in handy if you want to know how to get rid of weeds and stop them from spreading, it can be useful to deter squirrels, too.

It's all about the smell (we told you their noses are sensitive!). For squirrels, apple cider vinegar is just the worst, so soak rags and place them in your shed of loft, or spritz a diluted solution over hard surfaces in your garden. Just be careful about getting it on your plants – although useful at obliterating weeds, it'll do just the same to your beloved blooms.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.