Squirrels can be a nuisance in the yard or garden by eating fruit, vegetables and birdseed and chewing tree bark. Squirrels also have a way of making their way into your attic or crawlspaces and setting up nests. Here’s how to get rid of squirrels in the yard and keep them out of your home.

Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they will come. Any food found in your yard is fair game for roaming creatures or those already calling your property home. When you’re hanging bird feeders, scattering plant seeds or throwing compostable food scraps into your garden, you create the opportunity for easy meals. You should weigh your enjoyment of bird watching with the potential to attract pests with uneaten birdseed.

Remove what attracts them. The sight and smell of fallen fruit, nuts and seeds lures squirrels. Rake your yard regularly to remove these items from under bird feeders and trees. Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids to keep squirrels out of your trash.

Scare them. A dog or cat may keep squirrels out of your yard, particularly if your dog chases squirrels. If you don’t have a cat or dog, you can place plastic owls around your property on elevated surfaces such as fence posts or the roof to frighten squirrels away. You can also buy containers of predator (wolf or tiger) urine to spray in your yard or garden. The scent scares many animals, including squirrels, deer and rabbits. You need to re-apply the solution after it rains.

Spray them. Motion-activated sprinkler systems may help keep squirrels out of your yard.

Exclude them. Keep squirrels out of your yard by blocking their entry points. Prevent squirrels from traveling along utility wires by putting two-foot sections of lightweight two- to three-inch diameter plastic pipe around non-electrical wires. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open and place it over the wire. The pipe will spin on the wire, causing tightrope-walking squirrels to tumble to the ground.

Deter them. If you can’t keep ground squirrels out of your yard, you can keep them away from your trees and plants using squirrel baffles. Put a two-foot-wide metal collar around trees, at least six to eight feet off the ground. You can also use squirrel baffles on poles that support your bird feeders. Put fences or netting around your plants. Build a fence out of one-inch mesh wire. The fence should be at least 30 inches high and extend six inches below ground, with an additional six inches underground bent outward at a 90-degree angle to discourage burrowing. An electric fence is a further deterrent. Place at least two electrified fence strands about three inches from an existing fence, one six inches above the ground and the other at the fence height. Cut small pieces of plastic bird netting and wrap it around ripening fruit. Use heavyweight mulch, stones or decorative rocks on the surface of your soil to keep squirrels from digging in your flowerpots.

Repel them. Treat seeds, bulbs and flowers with a taste repellent such as capsaicin or commercially available chemical repellent. Reapply these substances after it rains. Don’t use repellents on vegetables or fruit you’re planning to eat. Plant mint at the edge of your garden. Squirrels avoid the smell of peppermint plants.

Plant flowers squirrels hate. Daffodils have a toxin that makes them inedible. Squirrels don’t like the taste of snowdrops, allium or hyacinth, so plant those spring bulbs as a deterrent.
Trap them. Catching squirrels with a live trap can rid your yard or squirrels temporarily, but other squirrels often arrive to take their place. In many states, squirrels are considered a game species and are protected by law. Trapping may be illegal, so check with your state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Keep them out of your home. If you’re having problems with squirrels in your yard or garden, it could be a symptom of a larger problem: squirrels in your home. Walk around the exterior of your house looking for possible damage or breaches in the eaves, exterior walls or roof. Holes could serve as a squirrel’s point of entry and exit as they fetch food from your yard and take it back to their nest. Be sure to promptly patch or repair any openings to give squirrels one less option for entering.

Assess the squirrel activity in your yard or garden to determine the best way to get rid of ground squirrels. Look for signs of squirrel damage: golf ball-size or smaller holes in your plant beds, bite marks on fruit, missing plants or tree bark and container digging. Then follow the appropriate steps above to keep squirrels out of your yard or get rid of them after they arrive. Remember, a squirrel infestation can lead to severe damage that extends beyond that in your yard or garden. Prevent squirrels in your home by controlling the squirrels outside your home.