Naturally Deter Squirrels (and Other Critters) from Your Garden

My chickens are so polite. They love to share their food. The minute I put out some tasty sunflower seeds, they invite the squirrels over to share in their feast. It’s so nice to see them sharing their good fortune. I’m not quite sure where they get it from though, because I’m not a fan of sharing my garden vegetables with the squirrels, rabbits, or chipmunks.

The squirrels, especially, have been a menace this year. They especially enjoy the sweet cherry tomatoes planted about the garden. Now, I may find them extremely annoying, but that in no way means that I’d resort to putting toxic chemicals in the garden to drive them away. Nor would I like to see a squirrel hunt take place.

So what can one do?

Luckily, over the years I’ve collected a few methods for deterring small critters from the garden. With these few good tricks, you can chase the pesky squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, mice, and more away from your garden without harsh extremes that will hurt your plants or the animals stealing their fruits. 

Ways to Keep Small Critters Away from the Garden

Fence in the garden. Before moving to 22 acres covered in trees, I didn’t put a fence around my garden. But, now that our garden would be naturally bordered by trees on three sides, putting a fence up was a must. This hardly phases the squirrels. They simply climb up and over the cedar posts. However, using chicken wire to wrap around the garden has done a tremendous job at keeping our hefty rabbit population out. Be sure to bury the fence a little ways underground to prevent any clever burrowers.

Plant marigolds. Small animals (and many insect pests) detest the smell of marigolds. It is best to plant them around and throughout the garden to fill the air with their scent. Plus, your chickens will enjoy munching on some marigold seeds come fall.

Spread coffee grounds around. Another foul odor to critters that so many of us humans enjoy is coffee. Spread spent coffee grounds throughout the garden to deter pests, while also fertilizing your garden plants.

Scare them off with the scent of a predator. (I’ll warn you, this one is a bit weird. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, though.) Small critters (and even some large ones) are often skittish over the first signs of danger-not that I’m blaming them. By placing human or pet hair around the garden you are sending these pests a warning. The scent of a human or pet will likely send them packing. You can simply spread a bunch throughout the garden, or you can create a “repellent bag” to hang around the garden. Find out how to do that here. 

Sprinkle cayenne pepper on and around your plants. Cayenne pepper will make the leaves and fruits of your garden plants not so delightful-sending squirrels and their friends off in search of tastier food. Be sure to reapply frequently as it washes away with rain and watering. **I’ve read that cayenne pepper can be harmful to pollinators. I do not use this method until the end of July or August when I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of bees in the garden. Just in case.

Mix up a hot and spice spray. A cup of hot sauce, a pint of vinegar, and 12 mashed garlic cloves sitting in a spray bottle in the sun for a couple of days will be no match for those garden thieves. Spray this concoction on your plants, vegetables, and fruits and watch as the squirrels, rabbits, and others turn up their noses and head elsewhere for dinner.

Plant herbs. Probably my favorite suggestion. Similar to marigolds and coffee grounds, small rodents do not like the strong aromas coming from common kitchen herbs. Dispersing herb plants throughout the garden will discourage any critters from snatching your garden vegetables. And as an added bonus, you will have lovely homegrown herbs to add to your meals. A double win for you!

Your Best Bet for Success

I don’t believe any one of these is a magic solution better than another. Not one idea is a cure-all for squirrels, rabbits, or other small animals from wreaking havoc on your garden. These suggestions work best when you combine their benefits in your garden. With a bit of vigilance you can keep the critter population to a minimum in your garden.

Think about how much work you put in starting seeds, fertilizing and watering sprouts, and pruning plants. Don’t let all of that be carried off by woodland creatures for a free meal. Use these effective methods to rid small critters from your garden without toxic chemicals or harming the animals. Just simple, all-natural ways to deter pests so you can enjoy the harvest you most assuredly deserve!

Have you dabbled in critter control before around your garden? What is your most effective method?