Squirrels are often regarded as delightful, cheerful animals. Their acrobatic maneuvers, feisty and chattering will inspire laughter and smiles. But for garden enthusiasts, there’s nothing delightful about squirrels at least not after they find their beds dug and tomatoes chewed. To most homeowners, these bushy-tailed critters are not a source of anything except frustration and a fervent obsession to get them out of their gardens by using DIY methods or calling a local squirrel removal Toronto service.
Squirrels enjoy feasting on fruits, seedlings, berries, flowers, tree buds and flowers. Just like any other rodent, you would get in your garden; they have long incisors that didn’t stop growing, forcing them to gnaw on anything they find in their paths to keep their teeth short and sharp.
How do I know I have squirrels in my garden?
Squirrels are known to cause all sorts of trouble in gardens. Except for flying squirrels, they are active during the day. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Shallow dug holes in your planting beds. These sites are not large; they are about the size of a golf ball.
- Bite marks on fruits and vegetables
- Missing plants
- Nibbled seed heads
- Container digging
- Partially eaten flowers.
- Keeping squirrels out of your garden
Squirrels are common in many parts of Toronto, especially in landscapes and trees. Most people fight hard trying to keep them out of their yards, but its usually better to outsmart them. You can try some of the following tricks to keep them out of your garden.
- Remove anything that attracts them – Squirrels are attracted by the smell of fallen nuts, fruits, and seeds. Clean these off the base of your tree and bird feeders. Ensure you fasten the lids of your trash cans too.
- Repel squirrels – There are several recipes you can get online to repel squirrels. Some of them feature capsaicin and compounds that make pepper hot. You could also use peppermint and vinegar or a combination of both. You could reapply the concoction after rain, but remember not to spray the plants you intend to eat.
- Scare them away – keeping a dog or a cat in your yard will keep squirrels from visiting and eventually settling down in your yard. You could train your dog to chase away squirrels, and you won’t have to deal with these pesky critters.
- Exclude them – This can be done by installing a cage or cover. You can use plastic bird netting, hardware net or chicken wire.
If you have tried the above and still have little success protecting your garden from squirrels then it might be time to call in the experts. They will be in a better position to strategize a method to keep the squirrels out for good. Check this tweet out, one squirrel caused the outage.
A little squirrel can do a lot of damage! Here’s the burned up transformer from the outage caused by a squirrel yesterday morning. pic.twitter.com/CSMncjgf9D
— Silicon Valley Power (@SantaClaraPower) May 30, 2017
Keep Squirrels Out of Garden
It can be fun to sit on the porch and watch a few squirrels frolic and scamper around the branches and bushes of your backyard. Where you don’t want them, though, is scampering through your garden. A backyard vegetable garden is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for these creatures, and a few squirrels can easily decimate a small plot. So you may ask how can I keep squirrels out of my garden?
1 Look into natural squirrel repellents Strong odours and flavours tend to repel squirrels. Spicy flavours, like jalapeno or cayenne pepper, sprinkled or sprayed onto the plants, will deter most squirrels from making their meal out of your vegetables. Another natural repellent, as unpleasant as it may sound, is predator urine. You can usually find it in your local home and garden store, or on the Internet. Simply spray a perimeter around your garden and the squirrels will see it as a predator’s territory. They will generally stay away for fear of becoming a meal themselves.
The only problem with these solutions is that they do need to be reapplied after it rains.
2. Offer them something more tempting. Now, this may sound like a recipe for inviting more squirrels to feast in your yard. Instead, by offering them something that they would prefer to eat, such as a feeder full of sunflower seeds, they will be less likely to feast on your plants.
3. If you don’t already have one, get a dog or a cat. Most small dog breeds, such as border collies and rat terriers, love to chase squirrels and other small rodents.
4. If a pet isn’t in your plans, look into building some owl houses. Two or three decent-sized owls can put a huge dent in the squirrel population, and it has the benefit of being a natural, environmentally friendly solution.
While there are more options out there, such as fencing in the plants or the whole garden, hopefully, this list is enough to get you started.
Can Squirrels Damage My Garden?
Squirrels thrive in almost all habitats besides the very dry deserts and high polar areas. They are mainly herbivorous in nature and feed mainly on nuts and seeds. Some species can also feed on insects and tiny vertebrates when faced with hunger. Because of their feeding patterns, squirrels have a very good sense of vision and touch. As an adaptation characteristic, they have strong claws that they use for grasping and climbing trees and teeth well adapted for chewing on plants; incisors that are large and grow throughout their life and a set of grinding cheek teeth. The above characteristics of squirrels show that your garden is prone to damage by squirrels. This they can do by nibbling on trees, and flowers, chewing on wooden decks and even digging holes in lawns. This is normally prevalent especially in the summer when they feed on succulent plants, berries and fruits. They also eat and destroy crocus corms and tulip bulbs. The holes they dig on lawns are mainly for storage of food, which they use during winter.
The American grey squirrel does more damage to broadleaved trees in the @ChilternsAONB #Chilterns than Ash Dieback will do, as it strips bark on a wide range of species. pic.twitter.com/GtmBcnxRvM
— Chiltern Woodlands (@ChilternWoods) November 23, 2017
Besides the food they store in holes, squirrels also feed on the barks of trees during winter. Squirrels are only active during the day so it is easy to spot a squirrel while it is destroying your garden. It may be difficult to control squirrels because of their large population but there are measures that one can take up like fencing around a plant with mesh wire, trapping and relocating a squirrel, use of repellants, removal of bird feeders etc. As you are getting rid of squirrels in your garden, you should also keep in mind that other squirrels that may replace their predecessors so you should take the appropriate measures that, will keep squirrels away from your garden for a long time to come.
Controlling squirrels in your garden
In case your garden is covered in berries and nuts, then it’s going to be a favourite spot for squirrels to spend their time during the day. Its recommended that you rake them out so that your garden is not party central. Controlling squirrels is not an easy task, which is why it’s a job best fitted for the experts. However, if you are determined to do the job by yourself, you could consider the following.
Get natural squirrel repellents
There are several repellents on the market, and you could get a variety at your local hardware shop. An effective one is getting urine from natural squirrel predators. You will need to spray these around your garden to control their entry. You could also use pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or garlic pepper around your plants. Getting a cat or dog is also an effective squirrel repellent, squirrels won’t invade your garden with a cat or dog around.
Protect your bulbs from squirrels
During spring, you might want to protect your bulbs. You can do this by covering the surface of your bed with black plastic netting. It’s invincible and inexpensive. You could also line the planting line in wire mesh or hardware cloth. In case the squirrels are challenging, you could try using chicken mesh. Plant your beds with one-inch chicken mesh and place more wire on the top of the bulbs. Plants will grow through the wire.
Keep the squirrels off the bird feeder
Bird food will attract squirrels into your yard, and you do not want that. Ensure that the area around your bird feeder is as clean as possible. You could place the bird feeders about 5 to 6 feet off the ground and about 10 feet away from any structures in your home. If you notice that the squirrels are climbing on the poles of the bird feeders, you could run them with Crisco, it won’t hurt the birds, and the squirrels will slither down.
Motion Activated sprinklers
These types of sprinklers are designed to keep cats and rabbits out of your garden. They also do a perfect job of scaring away squirrels. In case you have numerous squirrels or children, this method might result in over spraying of your garden which is essentially not good for the plants.
Scare them away
You can use your pet dog or even a cat. Having them around your garden will ensure squirrels stay away. Training your dog to do the job would be even better. Alternatively, you can purchase predator urine. Spraying it around your garden fools the squirrels into thinking there’s an animal lurking nearby.
Put away squirrel attractions
Fallen fruits, seeds, and nuts are what these creatures love and having them around will mean they frequently visit the garden. Always clear them up, not only in the garden but also in other areas around your home. Remains of fruits and nuts from your kitchen can also be a source of the smell that can attract squirrels from afar. Always keep them in a tightly covered container, and not near your garden.
Cover your plant
You can either use chicken wire, bird netting or any other appropriate material for this. Cage a single plant or, if possible, the whole garden. Sometimes, you may need to cover the fruits only.
Sprinkle some seeds and nuts a good distance away from your garden. It will keep the squirrels busy and prevent them from visiting your garden. You can even plant a couple of plants they like somewhere else which they can freely chew to forget about your garden.
Mulch bare ground
Because squirrels like to dig into the soil looking for nuts, it’s advisable to cover the exposed soil in your garden. Mulching helps to keep them away as there will be no soil surface to attract them. In the case it’s not possible to do it all over, mulching individual plants would also help.
When protecting your plants, it’s advisable to ensure any method doesn’t harm the squirrels. It shouldn’t go against the law either. Also, remember using a combination of protection methods is more effective than relying on a single one.
If all the above methods fail, it might be time to consult an expert squirrel removal expert. They are knowledgeable and experienced in controlling these critters out of your garden.
Article Updated: January 16, 2020.