How to Stop Squirrels Digging Up Your Lawn

Let’s start with the positives: if squirrels have been digging up your lawn, it means your garden is a welcoming place for wildlife which is no bad thing! You’re definitely doing something right, so that’s the good news.

However, whilst a few holes and buried nuts won’t cause too many issues, squirrels do sometimes get a little more destructive. Their burrowing antics could end up creating gaping holes across your lawn. This exposed soil can leave your grass prone to weeds, which can quickly sap the nutrients from your grass. This is where potential problems could arise.

If you want to stop squirrels from digging holes and burying nuts in your lawn, this article will share some friendly ways to send them elsewhere.

Why Do Squirrels Dig Up Your Lawn?

Understanding why squirrels act the way they do is the first step towards knowing how best to deter them. As you likely already know, squirrels often dig holes in the lawn to bury food, like nuts and seeds. They do this as a way of storing food so they can return to eat it later. Your garden, essentially, is a squirrel’s well-stocked pantry.

However, squirrels have been known to forget where they bury things. So the holes you see on your lawn could be from squirrels burying food, digging it up, or frantically trying to remember where they hid that acorn…

Squirrel digging grass

Are Squirrels Bad for Your Lawn?

This really depends on your point of view. When squirrels dig up the lawn to bury food, the most damage they do is create a few holes in the grass. Whilst this can look a little unsightly, it isn’t a huge issue in itself.  

The biggest problem you’ll have from squirrels digging up your lawn is that weeds may take the opportunity to grow in the newly-created loose soil. Also, occasionally, little trees can sprout from the seeds that squirrels plant (which isn’t necessarily ideal in the middle of the lawn!). The good news is that if you catch sprouts when they are small, they’ll be very easy to pull up.

One other way that squirrels can be destructive is if they decide to dig in flowerpots. Sometimes, squirrels will take to hiding nuts and seeds in flowerpots, as well as in the lawn itself. This can also lead to flowerpots getting knocked over (I should know – it’s happened to me!).

How to Stop Squirrels From Digging Up Your Lawn Without Harming Them

There are lots of simple ways to stop squirrels from digging up your lawn that won’t do them any harm. Here are six easy things you can try.

1. Install Fake Predators

Squirrels view dogs, foxes, cats and even owls as predators. If you don’t have any pets that can ward off squirrels, installing fake predators has been known to do the trick. By putting a few owl or fox figurines in your garden and around the lawn, you can deter squirrels from dropping in. Moving the figures around will stop squirrels from getting too comfortable around them!

2. Spray Deterring Scents

If the dummy predators aren’t sufficiently effective, you can take things a step further and spray deterring scents around your garden. Some smells, like fox urine, can be purchased from garden centres and are popular amongst people wanting to keep squirrels away. 

If you’d prefer to make your own scent deterrent, garlic is a great natural remedy that can also ward off squirrels. Just be mindful that it can also scare away other things, like slugs, mosquitos and aphids. 

Make a Garlic Deterrent Spray:

  1. Bring 500 ml of water to the boil, then reduce the heat
  2. Add 2 – 3 chopped garlic gloves.
  3. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the solution to cool.
  5. You can either leave the garlic in for longer, to let it steep, or strain it straight away. Strain the solution before putting it in a spray bottle.

Garlic spray

3. Keep the Lawn Clear

If you have trees in or around your garden that are constantly dropping nuts and other debris onto your lawn, this could be luring the squirrels in.

If this is the case, keep your lawn clear and make sure you’re cleaning up any debris as quickly as possible. Using a rake to frequently clear the grass can make a big difference. When the squirrels visit and they can’t find any food, they’re more likely to move along to the next garden.

4. Keep Bins Tightly Sealed

The key to getting rid of squirrels is to remove anything that’s drawing them in. If you keep your bins in the back garden, any lingering smells or even food droppings can attract them.

To prevent unwanted visitors, make sure you keep your bins tightly sealed and clean them out regularly to prevent strong odours. If you have the space, using a wheelie bin storage unit can be a great way to prevent bins from luring any animals to your garden.

5. Install Netting

One of the best ways to protect your lawn from squirrels digging holes is to cover it up with protective netting. Netting is mostly used to prevent birds from pecking newly sown grass seeds. But it’s also great for warding off squirrels if they’ve become a problem in your garden. 

Although it’s not the most attractive ‘fix’, the hope is that squirrels will get put off visiting your garden and then you can remove the netting.

Netting

6. Consider Removing Bird Feeders

There’s nothing squirrels love more than indulging in bird feed when they’re not supposed to. Therefore, one way to stop squirrels spending as much time in your garden is to remove any bird feeders. If we look purely at the facts: the fewer reasons squirrels have to visit your garden, the less likely they’ll be to dig up your lawn. Of course, this isn’t great news for the birds in your garden. 

If you don’t want to get rid of bird feeders altogether, try to choose feeders that are difficult for squirrels to access and/or feeders that don’t create a lot of mess. Squirrel-proof bird feeders can help deter squirrels from eating directly from the feeder. Alternatively, bird tables can help reduce spillage. Try to clean up any spilled seeds/bird food as much as possible.

Another option is to install a squirrel feeder in the hope of distracting squirrels away from digging the lawn – but this will still encourage them to visit the garden so it isn’t guaranteed to stop them digging.

How to Tell If Squirrels Are Burying Nuts in Your Lawn

Holes can appear on your lawn for many reasons. It could be squirrels, but it could also be wasps, moles or even digger bees.

If you haven’t seen any squirrels in your grass, you can usually tell if they are the culprits if the holes are small, shallow and there are lots of them clustered together. You can also check to see whether there’s a nut or seed buried in it. 

If you can’t be sure what’s digging up your lawn, you could install an outdoor camera overnight to see if it catches the culprit on film. 

How to Fix Squirrel Holes in Your Lawn

While they may be a pain to deal with, the good news is that squirrel holes are pretty easy to fix. To patch them up, simply scatter a few grass seeds into the holes and lightly cover them with soil. It’s best to do this during spring or autumn, as this is when grass seed yields the best results.

Here at DIY Garden, we’ve written a detailed guide to The Best Grass Seed – it’s worth checking out if you’re looking to reseed your lawn. Also, if your garden is often in shade, you might like to take a look at our page on The Best Grass Seed for Shade.

Just make sure you’ve put measures in place to deter squirrels from digging up your garden before you reseed. Otherwise, they may be attracted to the grass seed and you’ll be back to where you started! 

If weeds have popped up in the recently-dug soil, you’ll need to get rid of them before reseeding. Depending on their size, you can pull weeds out by hand, use a weeding tool, or even a chemical weed killer – plenty of options to help get your lawn back to full health!

Conclusion

When it comes to squirrels digging up the lawn, they’re more of an inconvenience than a serious problem; however, it can still be very frustrating – especially if you take great pride in your grass! The good news is that it’s usually easy to figure out what’s attracting squirrels to your garden, making it easier to remove any temptations. Plus, there are several non-invasive ways of deterring squirrels, making it easy to reduce the amount of time they spend in your garden (and therefore the amount of time they spend digging it up!).

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