Garden Troubles: How To Get Rid Of Squirrels

Squirrels tend to give home gardeners nightmares. While many people love seeing squirrels in the park, they are nothing but a source of frustration for those that love to take care of their plants. They are well-known pests among people all over the UK. Squirrels are excellent learners, to put it mildly. They can learn from other squirrels or even humans, and they do it quickly.

Grey squirrel on a tree

 

If you have a family of squirrels around, it just takes one to figure out how to break into your garden, and you can bet the rest of the family will, in no time, join in. While both red and grey squirrels can cause damage to plants, the red squirrel is now almost uncommon and barely seen in the UK. As a result, the grey squirrel has earned the reputation of being a peace breaker. It is the one you would most want to keep away from your garden and get rid of. And you may already know hot to prevent other animals from visiting your garden, like foxes, rats, moles or cats, but what about this one? Go on reading to find out how to hold squirrels at bay and minimise the structural damage they cause to your garden.

Common species of squirrels

Four types of squirrels can be found in the UK: red, grey, black and brunette. However, the two most common are the red and grey ones. There are approximately 160.000 red squirrels and 2.5 million grey squirrels in the UK.

Red Squirrels (Sciurus Vulgaris)

They are generally considered to be the first species in the United Kingdom. They are herbivorous rodents that prefer trees. The ones that survive the harsh winter conditions have an estimated lifespan of three years. They use their bushy tails to remain warm. They can live for up to ten years if certain conditions are met, such as the availability of tree seeds.

Red squirrel

Grey Squirrels (Sciurus Carolinensis)

They are tree squirrels that are native to North America and play an important role in forest management. They are considered wild animals and range in length from 20 to 23 cm. They are larger than red ones, weighing between 400 and 650 grams. They have two mating seasons each year. They prefer large, densely forested areas and are seen in hardwood forests but today they are getting to the urban life too. They are known to invade backyards in search of garden crops, berries, and even tomatoes.

Why you should keep squirrels away from your garden

  • The majority of gardeners blame squirrels for the disappearance of bulbs and bird eggs. Here is what to look out for in your garden:
  • Squirrels enjoy digging up plant bulbs, both to feed on them and to store their nuts in the ready-made holes.
  • They wreak havoc on the garden crop and mess it up. Squirrels are notorious for stealing ripening fruits and vegetables, particularly soft and juicy produce like squash, tomatoes, and melons.
  • They can dig around your flower and in vegetable pots. They rummage through containers for insects or other treats, while uprooting plants in the process.
  • Squirrels can invade your bird tables as well. If you find your bird food gone one day, out of blue, you can be sure you have a squirrel problem.

Signs of squirrels on your property

Grey squirrels will make use of any existing gaps in your property to their advantage. They gnaw through the soffits and eaves to gain access to the house. Squirrels can reach your home from the ground floor, but they prefer to do so from a higher level.
They can climb a vertical wall to the roof level, but they are more likely to use nearby wires or trees to gain access points to the roof and then reach the building through the chimney. When grey squirrels get into the roof spaces of houses and buildings, they can cause significant harm. 

Red squirrel drinking water from garden bowl

Here are some of the signs to be cautious of:

  • Gnawed woodworks and ceilings.
  • Electrical wires being stripped of their insulation.
  • Torn up fibreglass insulation.
  • Contaminated cold water tanks thanks to the squirrels’ droppings and urine.
  • Many noises in your attic crawl space.

How to get rid of squirrels

Squirrel infestation can be a real problem. No matter what, it’s best to go for a natural repellent and pest control without harming them. Squirrel traps are common but they can be fatal. If you don’t want to kill squirrels but want to keep them out of your garden in a more humane way, here are some solutions you can do:

1. Food should be hidden or relocated

Clean up any dropped nuts, acorns, or berries as soon as possible. A handy nut gatherer can make the operation go faster and easier. These food sources can be moved to a squirrel-friendly location, such as the back corner of your garden. Also, make sure the rubbish bin is tightly closed.

Grey squirrel stealing nuts from bird feeder

2. Install a sprinkler that is powered by motion

Squirrels are naturally jittery animals. They’re tiny and rely on their teeth and jaws to defend themselves. When confronted with a frightening situation, they prefer to flee rather than battle. A sudden movement or sound will be enough to send them fleeing. And a motion-activated sprinkler is ideal for this. They are frowned upon by most people because they can quickly increase the water bill. Choose one with a lot of adjustable settings to prevent this.

3. Proofing bird feeders to keep squirrels away 

It’s difficult to say no to a buffet of delectable grains, bird seeds, nuts, and fruits. They are climbers and can eat all of the food, leaving your home devoid of birds.
You can purchase squirrel-proof bird feeders at the DIY shop, as there are a number of ways to keep your current ones safe from thieves. To keep them from jumping, make sure it’s at least 1.5 metres off the ground.

4. Squirrels are said to be fond of all things green

Their diet consists primarily of berries and seeds, and they live in tree branches. Squirrel deterrent plants, on the other hand, do exist. Plant flowers that are either brightly coloured or have a good scent to keep squirrels out of your garden.
Hyacinth, Fritillaries, Galanthus, geraniums, lily-of-the-valley, peppermint, allium and daffodils are among the plants squirrels despise the most. Daffodils are harmful to them because they produce poisonous lycorine and calcium oxalate crystals when eaten.

5. The use of mulch is highly recommended

Mulch is any substance put above the soil to keep it moist, prevent weed growth, and keep pests at bay. But what is it about mulch that squirrels hate? It’s a lot tougher and has a feel to it that squirrels despise.

6. Put an ultrasound squirrel deterrent to the test

Squirrels can detect sounds in a frequency range that is more than twice as wide as ours. Their frequency spectrum is skewed toward ultrasound, which applies to sounds that are higher in frequency than what the human ear can hear. Ultrasonic squirrel repellent systems have been developed as a result of this significant scientific breakthrough.
This is the best repellent for you if you want something that is safe, non-toxic, and humane. The customisable settings, durability, and solar-powered charger make this sonic squirrel repellent system common.

7. Natural squirrel repellents are a good option

Use food-grade ingredients to produce your own natural squirrel deterrent spray. The trick to making a repellent is to use ingredients that these creatures despise. Spices are one of the simplest to come by. Squirrels may flee when they face something that tastes or smells spicy or minty. Three litres of water mixed with tabasco is a cheap and easy DIY natural solution.

Tabasco sauc bottle with red chilis and black peppers

To help it remain on the surface of the leaves longer, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. You should add a raw egg to the tabasco-water mixture to help protect your trees. This increases its viscosity and stickiness, making it ideal for use on tree barks. The substance will stick to the squirrels’ paws, causing them to quickly abandon the tree. Sprinkle pepper flakes, cayenne pepper powder, or a garlic powder-pepper mixture on surfaces and plants to achieve the same effect.

How to Prevent Squirrels from Returning to Your Garden

Better safe than sorry as the saying goes. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to prevent them from returning and keep them off your garden.

Block all entry points that may give access to squirrels

Invest in drainpipe covers to prevent squirrels from entering. Branches that hang over your roofline should be pruned. Squirrels often fly by tree branches, and the ones that come into contact with your home garden provide the ideal bridges.

Eliminate all sources of food

If you want to keep squirrels out of your garden, you must first come to grips as to why they enjoy hanging out there in the first place. It’s due to food in almost all cases. Squirrels consume only plant matter in the wild. But, in fact, they can eat just about anything.
Squirrel issues may arise from a variety of factors, including leaving leftover pet food, bird feeders, fruiting trees, and trash cans. So, before you start putting up fence spikes, keep in mind that the safest way to repel squirrels is to take away something they enjoy.

Keep standing water to a minimum

They’ll be on the lookout for water as well. Take the appropriate steps to remove as much water as possible from your home garden, or you’ll be building a squirrel haven.

In addition to standing water, make sure your garden hose and exterior faucets aren’t leaking. Squirrels have been known to lick droplets with their tongues. Stopping leaks makes your home garden less appealing to them.

Red squirrel on a tree

As squirrels are becoming more and more common in the UK, the harm they cause to gardeners and homeowners is simply unbearable. If you are an animal lover who does not wish to dispatch them or even lock them in wire mesh, we have already provided you with many easy-to-do solutions to get rid of squirrels in a more humane way. Allowing them to settle in your home garden, however, is the last thing you would want to do as they will happily ruin your tomatoes, apples, berries, flower blooms – the list goes on and on.

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