How to deter squirrels from your garden – tips from pest control experts

Fed up with pesky squirrels stealing your bird food? Follow these harmless suggestions to keep them out of your garden

picture of squirrel eating out of a bird feeder in a tree to demonstrate why you may need to know how to keep squirrels out of your garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whilst you may want to welcome wildlife into your garden there's no denying the nuisance pesky squirrels can become. But how can you deter the little bird seed thieves from your land? We put it to the experts. 

Similar to the reasons you'd want to deter pigeons from your garden, squirrels earn their unwelcomeness for several reasons, the main one being their greediness. When you're trying to attract birds to your garden the last thing you need is a furry-tailed little creature causing havoc. 

With this in mind we asked pest control experts for their best harmless guidance and here's what they said. 

How to deter squirrels from your garden

Although the task is not quite as horrifying as trying to keep rats away from your garden, it does take an effective method to truly keep any squirrels away. So whether you've got a fully-fledged infestation on your hands or are trying to keep ahead of the game, here are some expert tips. 

1. Keep your garden tidy

person strimming their grass borders

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're someone who sticks to their daily habits to keep your house clean and tidy then you may already have a well-maintained garden. However, it's no rarity that gardens can quickly fall down the priority list and be left to get a little wild. Unfortunately, this can lead to some unwanted visitors. 

"Keeping your garden clean and tidy can help to deter squirrels from entering," says Daniel Steward, managing director at Shield Pest Control.  

"You should ensure that any food sources are removed, particularly fruits and vegetables, as well as acorns that may have fallen off your trees, attracting squirrels." 

Preventative cleaning like this will also help deter rats away from your home and mice. 

2. Deterrent planting

If you're looking for more sustainable garden ideas and would rather stay as natural as possible with your detterents then there are some plants you can introduce to your garden. These plants will act as a repellent to the squirrels due to their scents. 

"Planting alliums such as garlic and onions close to your garden flowers can prevent squirrels from feasting on them," suggests Daniel. "Marigolds and daffodils are also distasteful to squirrels, so these can be planted in the garden to act as a squirrel deterrent." 

Why not try out vegetable gardening for beginners and ward off the squirrels at the same time? 

3. Limit access to food

metal cloches over a plant

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is an important step in nearly all pest control, even when it comes to ways to keep foxes out of your garden. Limiting an animal's food supply, or making it nonexistent will almost completely remove their want or need to enter your space. 

“One of the best things you can do to keep squirrels away from your garden is to really limit the amount of food they have access to," explains James Ewens, a garden expert at Green Feathers.   

For squirrels, your plant bulbs are a delicious treat and they will stop at nothing to dig them up from your flower beds to eat them. To keep these delicacies from them and stop all your hard work from being ruined James recommends installing metal mesh cloches.

He says, "These will be your best friend here to prevent them getting close, as while they can chew through many materials a good metal cloche isn’t one of them. It’s also worth placing them over any fruiting plants you may have as well e.g. strawberries, as these are things that they’ll be trying their best to get at." 

Panacea Bell Cloche Plant Protection Metal Mesh Structure: £19.98 at Amazon

Panacea Bell Cloche Plant Protection Metal Mesh Structure: £19.98 at Amazon

Looking to keep your veggies out of harm's way from the greedy squirrels? Using a metal cloche like this is super effective and still allows your plant to grow and soak in the sun. 

4. Repellent sprays

Should you be ready for a more direct approach but one that's still harmless, then using repellent sprays on popular squirrel areas in your garden can help too. This is also a great option if you're taking part in the rewilding trend and want as little interference with your plant life as possible. 

"You can also use repellent sprays to help keep the squirrels away. Homemade sprays using strong scents such as vinegar, garlic, or peppermint, around the fences of your garden or on trees where squirrels may enter from or climb on," explains James. 

Driew Plant Mister Spray Bottle: £3.32 at Amazon

Driew Plant Mister Spray Bottle: £3.32 at Amazon

This misting spray bottle is ideal for mixing up a homemade repellant concoction to apply directly to the affected areas where needed.

5. Seek professional help

picture of squirrel on peanut feeder

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes a pest issue can become particularly bad and no amount of preventative changes can help. Similar to how you may have to bring someone in to help with some of the most common invasive plants, you might need a professional pest expert. 

Daniel says, "If your squirrel problem is becoming out of control, it is recommended to contact a professional pest control team to come and examine the issue and see what measures need to be taken to eliminate the problem."

It's important to not leave the issue long as Daniel warns that squirrels can cause a huge amount of damage should they find a way into your home.


What attracts squirrels to your garden?

Several things will entice squirrels into your garden, the main three being food, water and shelter. You may be able to guess what the most important one is.

"Squirrels are attracted to your garden for one main reason - food. Their diet consists of flowers, flower bulbs, seeds, nuts, and vegetables and often they will explore your garden searching for fresh flowers and leftover food, much to the dismay of keen gardeners and their vegetable patches," states Daniel. If you make compost at home just be mindful that there is plenty of temptation there.

This is why restricting their food source is key to keeping them away from your garden. As for your plants, keep an eye on them and monitor any possible criminal activity. 

Daniel also points out that squirrels may enter your garden for shelter-building resources. He says, "Squirrels love nesting near a food source, so ensuring that all food sources are eliminated from your garden and that rubbish bags are sealed properly, should encourage squirrels to search elsewhere for their nesting spot." 

What damage can squirrels do to your garden?

Although squirrels come across as small seemingly innocent creatures, they can cause quite a lot of damage to your garden. They'll be especially problematic if you're into succession gardening, more bulbs do after all equal more food. 

James says, aside from feasting on your hard-earned crops and flowers they will also find anything to chew. He explains, "They’ll also chew through whatever they can get their teeth on - garden furniture, tools, decking, and fences are just a selection. To top it all off, they’re terrible for birds."

More dramatically, squirrels are terrible for scaring birds away and may even eat their eggs during nesting seasons which is certainly not what any loving gardener wants to happen. 

Whilst you may consider squirrels a real nuisance it's important to take any preventative measure will a certain amount of care – like when trying to deter neighbourhood cats from your garden. Choosing harmful deterrents is never the way forward and could lead to you getting into unnecessary trouble. 

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.