help! how do i keep pesky squirrels out of my garden?


Hello Shelterrific readers! I am hoping you can help me discover some simple NON-cruel ways to discourage squirrels from rummaging around in our porch flower containers. You see, we have a big old oak tree in the front yard which produces a ton of acorns. Lots of acorns = lots of squirrels! Mostly we don’t mind them, but just recently they’ve taken to digging up our recently planted impatiens in two container beds. Every morning we wake to find holes in the beds, and soil scattered all over the porch. My guess is that they think they have some buried in treasure in there, so they dig, dig, dig!

Any suggestions on how to deter them from the porch? This thread on Garden Web suggests getting a dog (something our 10-month old kitten would mind — even if our three year old daughter would love!) or setting up traps. Our neighbor up the road makes a hobby out of capturing yard squirrels and then releasing them in the nearby forest reserve. Seems like a lot of work! I was thinking a little cayenne pepper in the soil might turn them off. What do you think? All ideas welcome! — Angela M.

From our partners

Cayenne pepper. Even the cheapie stuff you can get at CVS. Just sprinkle it on, and the squirrels won’t rummage anymore. You just have to remember to reapply after a rain.


Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the soil.

Also, any ideas on how to avoid poison ivy? I’m dying over here in Ohio with my first cast of it in 25 years!!!


We just recently bought a trap from (I think it is called Havahart). And it has worked great. It is super easy to set. We had at least half a dozen and after we caught one they dwindled. When we caught a second one they disappeared. Recently a lone squirrel started hanging around and we caught him too. It has not been a big deal. We use peanut butter for bait and we had to stake the trap to the ground after one of them tipped it over to get to the peanut butter without going in, but my husband just takes the trapped squirrel to a road that leads to the army base by us and releases them. Interestingly, we still have squirrels in the front, but none in the back.


Blood meal works perfectly for me. I’ve been using it for years. You have to replenish it after it rains, but otherwise it’s great.

p.s. Trapping is not a great idea. Squirrels are territorial and they don’t do well when moved. Usually they’ll just die. Not to mention you could be taking a mother away from her litter.

Moth balls? I have 2 squirrels for pets, brought to me as babies by my cats, so if you don’t want pets, have a really slow dog or a really old cat. Cayenne is good too. I agree with the no traps idea.

Poison Ivy is rampant here, I find I can get it just cutting it, something must mist out of a disturbed plant into the air, because I get it in places, like my face where I KNOW I didn’t touch it. If you are going someplace that it is, there are new products that you apply beforehand, then other products you wash with later, the first is a barrier, and the other a soap/solvent thing for the oils that get on you. The good news is that the more you get it, the less it bothers you. The bad news is that it’s always still bad to get.

Squirrels are pretty smart and pesky. I tried marigolds, cayenne, garlic, etc. They destroyed the marigolds, ate my hot peppers and ignored the garlic/cayenne mixture I put out. I have 2 cats which they tease and chatter at. Only thing that worked on my Florida squirrels was hanging rags soaked in vinegar, change once a week. The only thing left after that is a completely inclosed chicken wire fence. Also, I pick my tomatoes early and ripen them in a paper bag (3 days). I cover my cantaloupe with used coffee cans from 5 pm to 8 am. They eat through plastic bags on fruit and veggies. Hope this helps. – Granny from Crickets Chirp.

I use tile, broken into lots of sharp shards, implanted into the soil around the plants – the squirrels can’t dig, because they will hurt their paws. It is the only thing I have found that come close to protecting freshly planted herbs on my Montreal balcony

I know cayenne works for cats…

Sarah L.

Blood meal, mothballs or you can get mesh from the hardware store, cut out spots for your plants and drop it over the top, then attach to the sides of your box so the squirrels don’t just go under it. Cayenne can be dangerous if you have dumb squirrels.


@Sarah L., why is cayenne dangerous for dumb squirrels? I haven’t yet figured out the intelligence level of our squirrels.

Would cayenne work for rabbits? We have those, too, and they’re eating more plants than they’ve paid for.

Human hair! Take the hair out of your hairbrush and either put it around the base of the plants, into the soil or around the perimeter.
Get a friend’s dog to pee around your yard, or get a boy to do it. (not to be sexist, but I think you’ll lose the perimeter while squatting…)

It’s really hard to repel a determined squirrel. Any of the bad smelling things they can eventually learn to ignore.

If you want 100% fool proof, put a sheet of chicken wire or hardware cloth (like chiken wire with smaller holes) just under the soil. Cut the smallest hole possible to put your plant through, or even better, if you’re starting from seeds, just let the plants grow through the holes.

It’s a pain, but a good last resort. The squirrels can’t dig through the metal mesh, even if they do try.

Sarah L.

Daffodil, LOL. A lot of places have stopped carrying the pepper additive to put in bird food. I asked why and was told that because squirrels feed with their hands, when they get irritated by the pepper, they rub their eyes and it can cause harm. Same if birds get the powder in their eyes — they can’t taste it like squirrels do though which is why it used to be in bird foods.

Landscape fabric or plastic mesh works great for me. Lay it gently on top of the bed, cut large X’s over the plants, slip the fabric down to the ground tucking the X-collars down around the plants, and cover with either mulch or soil or decorative rocks. Those pesky squirrels will try to dig through, but if you tuck it up close to the plants, they’ll soon move on to easier targets. Next year, you may want to put the mesh down first and plant the seedlings through it.

Bonus? Fewer weeds.

we have a squirrel family that robs our oranges. i know i should deter them…but, they are just so damn cute!

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[…] week, Angela asked for help solving the issue she was having with squirrels rummaging around in her porch planters, and many of you suggested using cayenne pepper to deter the digging. At my house, our biggest […]