Any gardener who has put a lot of time and effort into their outdoor space will know how frustrating it can be when pests show up uninvited! Gardening is hard enough work as it is, before you add squirrels, rodents and other visitors into the mix.
With 2.5 million grey squirrels living the UK, it’s safe to assume that most gardeners will experience issues with this pest at some point in their journey. Raised beds are even more susceptible to squirrel damage, as they tend to feel safer when slightly elevated from the ground.
While pest control companies can help rid your garden of unwanted visitors, enlisting their services can be costly. Fortunately, there’s a number of methods you can use to prevent these bushy tail rodents from accessing your raised beds – and all the suggestions we’ve put together are humane.
Not sure where to start when it comes to tackling your squirrel problem? Let’s take a look at 13 of the best ways to keep squirrels away from your raised beds.
Why do Squirrels Invade your Garden?
If you find yourself regularly asking ‘why me?’ as you come across yet another destroyed raised vegetable patch, take comfort in the fact that you won’t be the only one.
Squirrels are scavengers, and love any garden which grows something they can eat. Unfortunately, almost every garden will have something a squirrel can eat! They love fruit, veggies, flowers, bulbs and seeds. This very annoying garden pest may even go through your rubbish!
The bad news for owners of raised beds is that squirrels feel more comfortable slightly elevated from the ground. At ground level, they are more vulnerable to predators.
Signs of Squirrels in your Garden
While damage to your raised beds is easy to spot, squirrel damage is often confused with damage from other pests. Signs of squirrels include:
- Disappearing crops. If your crops are simply disappearing, it’s likely a squirrel has got to them. This is especially likely in raised bed vegetable gardens. Whether it’s your perfectly formed cucumbers or your juiciest tomato plants, you may simple find a squirrel gets to them first.
- Damage to bulbs. Damage to flower bulbs is another sign of squirrels. They like to dig up bulbs which can disturb the soil and ruin your flower beds.
- Missing bird seed. If you’ve filled your bird feeders with seed but you’re not seeing many birds, it may be that a squirrel is accessing them instead. Ensure your bird feeders are squirrel-proof.
- Disturbed soil. If you notice that your soil or mulch has been disturbed or dug up, a squirrel may be the culprit. Whether it’s a squirrel or another pest, it’s time to start putting some deterrents in place.
13 Ways to keep Squirrels Out of Raised Beds
1. Create Physical Barriers
The first and most obvious way to protect your raised beds from squirrels is to surround them with a fence or physical barrier.
We’ve all seen how easily a squirrel can scale a tree, so a small garden fence is unlikely to pose too much of a problem. However, a tall fence may be enough to deter a squirrel, especially if there’s other, easier to access food sources nearby.
One other thing to think about is that squirrels are very good diggers. If you’re going to install a barrier, make sure the bottom of the fence goes far enough into the ground that the squirrels aren’t able to dig underneath it.
READ NEXT: How to Stop Squirrels Digging Up Your Lawn
2. Keep your Garden Tidy
It seems obvious, but it’s still worth thinking about. Could you be attractive squirrels to your garden? Keep your bins secure and don’t leave any food out. Squirrels may head to another garden instead!
Keeping your garden neat and organised will prevent all sorts of pests from paying you a visit, plus you may find it easier to stay on top of your watering, weeding and feeding schedule.
3. Install a Squirrel Feeder
When combined with a fence surrounding your raised bed, installing a squirrel feeder can be very effective.
No, it won’t stop the squirrels from entering your garden (in fact, you might find more squirrels start to pay you a visit!), but provided you keep the feeder topped up, squirrels will likely leave your vegetable garden alone in favour of an easier to access food source.
Ensure the feeder is easy for the squirrels to spot and access, in a separate area from your raised beds.
4. Sprinkle Chicken Manure in the Soil
Sprinkling a small amount of chicken manure in the soil around your raised beds can help to deter squirrels.
You should ensure the manure is fully composted, especially if your raised beds contain edible produce.
Composted chicken manure is actually very good for your soil. It contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
5. Protect your Plants with a Greenhouse
If you’ve got the space and budget, you could consider installing a greenhouse.
The warmer temperatures inside a greenhouse can keep your plants safe from pests and extend your growing season. You’ll be able to grow fruits and vegetable you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
Greenhouses don’t need to be expensive nor enormous. Pop up greenhouses are a great option for those with smaller outdoor spaces, and these are available in an array of sizes.
6. Surround the Bed with Mesh
Protect your raised beds with a mesh or net frame. This can prevent a multitude of pests from accessing your raised beds, including cats, rabbits and birds.
Garden netting is easy to source and relatively simple to install. Of course, if you’re wanting to impress your neighbours with a display of colourful flowers come spring, netting can be a bit of an eyesore. But if you’re growing vegetables and will do anything to protect your outdoor kitchen, mesh is a good idea.
Another option is to line the soil with hardware cloth or chicken wire. Squirrels enjoy digging up flower bulbs, and laying material over the soil can prevent them from doing this. While the bulb shoots can grow up through the mesh, squirrels won’t be able to dig down into the soil to reach the bulbs.
7. Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers
If you’ve got a larger budget, a motion-sensing sprinkler system is a great way to deter unwanted visitors. When the sprinkler detects movement, it’ll eject a sudden jet of water that’ll startle to squirrel.
Motion-activated ultrasonic pest repellents are also worth using. These emit a high pitched frequency when movement is detected. This, combined with a sprinkler, is an extremely effective way to ward off pests.
Some motion-activated deterrents have flashing lights which can startle squirrels, foxes and cats.
8. Plant Squirrel-Repelling Flowers
Despite the fact that they’ll happily go through your rubbish bin, squirrels can be fussy little creatures.
They dislike the strong scents of daffodils, hyacinths, Lily of the valley and geraniums. The good news for us gardeners is that these flowers look beautiful!
Try planting a barrier of squirrel-repellent flowers and see if the number in your garden decreases.
9. Sprinkle Spice
Homemade squirrel repellents can be very effective, and one thing that squirrels really dislike is spice.
Sprinkling cayenne pepper, ground chilli peppers, black pepper flakes or red pepper around your plants can deter squirrels.
You could also mix hot sauce and water in a spray bottle, then spray the mixture in the areas you’d like the squirrels to stay away from.
Bear in mind that if spicy substances get onto a squirrel’s paws and into their eyes, it can cause them a lot of discomfort. If you’re not wanting to harm the squirrel in any way, another homemade repellent is recommended.
Other natural repellents include apple cider vinegar and coffee grounds. These both have a pungent sell which squirrels dislike.
10. Give the Squirrels Water
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to keep squirrels out of raised beds is to simply give them a drink instead.
There’s a theory that squirrels are usually just thirsty. Try leaving a bowl of water out for your visiting squirrels, and see if having their thirst quenched makes them rethink their next move.
Of course, this isn’t going to deter squirrels from visiting your garden altogether but, like humans do, squirrels may be mistaking their thirst for hunger. If you find it’s usually your juicy fruits or cucumbers that are getting munched on, it might be that the squirrel simply needs a drink.
A hydrated squirrel may leave your previous veggies alone!
11. Install a Decoy Predator
Plastic owls can be installed near to your raised beds to deter squirrels.
Squirrels may rethink their next move if they see a predator nearby (albeit a plastic one!). Move the decoys every day so that the squirrels don’t get used to them.
Another option is to actively encourage natural predators like owls to your garden, which will quickly scare off any squirrels.
If this seems a little heartless, you could purchase a commercial repellent which is likely made using predator urine. This, coupled with a decoy, should be enough to frighten them off.
12. Sprinkle Peppermint Oil on the Soil
Essential oils such as peppermint oil can also keep squirrels away from your plants.
Sprinkling peppermint oil on your plant leaves and into the soil can deter squirrels. Peppermint oil masks the scent of plants, so it can also help to deter smaller insects such as spider mites.
13. Allow your Dog to Chase Them
While most owners spend time teaching their dog not to chase squirrels, perhaps an exception can be made in your own garden.
Dogs love playing ‘chase the squirrel’, while the squirrels don’t find it quite so entertaining!
Your pet is unlikely to actually catch a squirrel, but the mere sight of a dog outside should be enough to keep them at bay. The scent and sound of a dog will have a squirrel changing their mind about entering your garden.
Some people also believe that dog hair is a good squirrel deterrent. Taking a few tufts of dog hair and placing them around your garden could put squirrels off entering certain areas.