Both squirrels and raccoons are cute furry creatures, however, they are also smart and mischievous. They are the last animals you would want in your garden as they can make a mess and destroy it. From eating your vegetables and plants to scattering their feces everywhere they can cause complete havoc. Here, we will check out 10 best natural ways to keep Raccoons and Squirrels away from your garden.
Another thing about these animals is that they are quick to learn, so if one figures out a way to break into your lawn you can expect all of them to catch on to it soon enough. Even though these animals usually prefer the wild, they are quite happy with your gardens and can maneuver their way around to find themselves food and water.
If you are unsure whether or not they have come into your garden there are many signs through which you will be able to tell that is mentioned later on in the article. It is best if you keep Raccoons and Squirrels away from your garden so that it stays healthy and protected.
You must be wondering how that’s possible, and it may seem rather challenging but worry not! We’ve made a list of a variety of ways in which you can do so; these include temporary natural measures as well as more permanent and extreme measures.
Follow them and you shall have a lovely healthy garden with good produce.
What are Raccoons?
Raccoons are nocturnal creatures that are omnivorous, meaning they eat anything from fish to plants and vegetables. They have a black mask around their eyes that adds to their mischievous look. These animals are persistent and intelligent. They are also amazing climbers, swimmers, jumpers, and runners.
They have five-toed paws which make them active and hyper. Contrary to popular belief, raccoons do not hibernate during the winter, but they will live in dens for periods of extreme weather, causing them to shred a lot of their body fat. During the summer they mostly live in hollow trees.
What are Squirrels?
Squirrels are furry rodents with bushy tails that live all over the world except in Australia and Antarctica. They like to live in trees and are thus found in forests as well as in gardens. Squirrels have padded feet that make it easy for them to jump around as they please.
They are great runners that can travel at extremely fast speeds and love to eat nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Since they are intelligent they make sure to store their food for later on. They too are omnivores, which means they like to eat plants and meat.
Why Do They Come in the First Place?
1. They See Food
If you have nut and fruit-producing trees in your garden chances are that you will attract squirrels and raccoons. It is a source of food for them and they will spot it from afar. Another source of food that they may be drawn to is bird food.
If you have a bird feeder in the garden you may think it’s only feeding your birds but its definitely feeding your squirrels and raccoons too.
Last but not the least, planting anything in your garden that could be considered food will attract them to your garden from all kinds of vegetables to plants. Unlike squirrels who will just nibble, raccoons can be disastrous and knock the feeder to the ground consuming all of the food.
In order to keep them away, you can spray repellents around the feeders that won’t keep the birds away, only the culprits which are your squirrels and raccoons.
2. Killing Squirrels
Ironic as this is it’s true. You may think that killing squirrels that destroyed your garden will keep them out but in fact, it’s the opposite, it will only attract more to come in their place.
If you have a pond in your garden then it’s likely that raccoons and squirrels will come. This is because they not only offer fresh water to these animals but also serve fresh prey for raccoons. Raccoons feed on fish and frogs so before you know it they could have attacked half of them.
Why Should You Keep Them Out?
The answer to this is simple; because they destroy your garden. They nibble on your fruits and vegetables and scatter them around leaving your garden a mess, and that’s only the start of it. They also sometimes eat up whole plants!
In addition to that, they may dig around plants leaving holes everywhere. Basically, they will destroy your garden leaving it an utter mess.
How to Stop Raccoons and Squirrels From Coming
While there are plenty of ways in which you can deter them from coming to your garden some are not always effective. However, before using strong chemicals and other strong measures to get them out it is best to try out natural remedies.
Here are some precautions that you can take to prevent them from coming in the first place:
First, make sure that your garden is not very appealing to wildlife. This includes having fewer food sources for them as well as hiding the already existing ones. Remove the bird food as that will deter squirrels, cover your compost as that will keep the raccoons away.
In addition to that, you will want to make sure that these creatures don’t look at your garden as a comfortable home for themselves. Remove nesting areas like tall grass where they can easily hide. Also, prevent access to areas underneath which they can easily crawl to such as under your porch or deck.
Another way in which you can prevent them from coming to your garden and attacking your plants is to give them an alternative food choice. Even though it may not make sense it works. You can distract them by keeping some of their favorite foods in an area away from the vegetables in your garden.
This will attract them to it rather than going towards your vegetables. Make sure that it is positioned away from your main garden. Keep water as well in case they are thirsty.
Raccoons have a natural repulsion to light, so by installing motion sensor flood lights it obstructs their raiding during the night. Make sure to place them in a way that it shines over the garden.
In addition to that, they also loathe the smell of ammonia. You can spray it or then drench rags in it and put them in raccoon prone areas. Another thing you can do to prevent them from inhabiting your garden is to play some sounds in your garden, this can deter them as they are not fully comfortable around noise.
If however, the damage is already done and you see the effects caused by a particular animal then before taking action it is essential that you identify the animal.
Is it a squirrel or raccoon or some other wildlife creature? This is important because the solution will depend on the kind of animal it is. You will then need to further read up on the habits of the animal to know how best to keep them away.
Signs of knowing Raccoons and Squirrels are in your garden
If you wish to know if squirrels and raccoons have inhabited your garden you have to see the signs. Some of these include:
- Droppings of their faeces in the garden
- Shallow digging and holes near plants
- Spotting their paw tracks around the garden
- Scratches on fences, trees, and other hand surfaces
- Small bites of plants and vegetables
- Digging in plant containers
- Missing stuff in the trash can
- Spot them by their color. Raccoons have a black mask around their face and are easy to spot. Squirrels can be spotted through their brown bushy tails
They’re regarded as highly crafty and resourceful animals that will rarely give up on a mission. Especially if that mission involves raiding or ransacking an area for an easy meal. They have paws that mimic the human hand, which makes them surprisingly agile and dexterous.
They excel at running, jumping, swimming, and can climb with great precision and speed.
Read: Square Foot Gardening Broccoli
Natural remedies to keep Raccoons and Squirrels away
1. Hot Pepper Plants and Cayenne Pepper
One of the most popular ingredients used to keep squirrels away, it can be used in many ways such as:
- Crush red pepper and then sprinkle the flakes around plants that squirrels seem to be attracted towards
- Scatter a little bit of cayenne pepper dust on the leaves of plants that your squirrels are drawn towards
- Use cayenne pepper to make a pepper spray that you can spray on the leaves of potential squirrel eating plants. You can do this by adding a hot sauce and water along with the cayenne pepper and then mixing it and putting it in a spray bottle
- Cayenne pepper can be mixed with petroleum jelly and then applied to stems of plants especially at the base. It can also be applied onto poles, fences, and other areas that squirrels are likely to come to
2. Garlic Sprays
Did you know that squirrels despise the smell and taste of garlic? Create a mixture with chopped garlic, water, and vinegar and then let it stay that way for a few days until the flavors integrate. When ready, spray it on fences and other squirrel prone areas in your garden.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Spray
Another smell and taste that squirrels detest is apple cider vinegar.
However, it is important to keep in mind that this spray can only be used on hard surfaces and not on plants since the vinegar can kill them.
4. Peppermint Oil
The powerful fragrance of peppermint is something that does not do well with squirrels and raccoons. You can use either a peppermint plant or even essential oil. You can do so by using cotton balls and drenching them in the oil, which can then be placed on areas that are prone to squirrels and raccoons.
You can place them by putting them on top of surfaces or lids of jars near your plants. Apart from that, you can also make a repellent spray with it using vinegar. This can be used to spray on hard surfaces in your garden.
There are also certain plants and flowers that repel squirrels due to their taste and smell. Use them to your advantage to keep squirrels away from the garden. Plant it in your garden especially close to the growing vegetables, as it will keep the squirrels away.
A few flowers that are known to keep them away are daffodils, allium, lily of the valley, hyacinths peppermint, and geranium.
While each of these is effective as a short-term solution, it requires constant monitoring and the need to be re-applied to ensure that it does the job. Also, sometimes more extreme measures are needed. Here are some strategies that you may use:
5. Scare them
There are many ways that you can scare squirrels and raccoons to keep them away from your garden. These include the use of scarecrows, motion-detecting lights, sound machines, etc. Another way in which you can scare them is through predator pee.
You can spray this around the garden. It will make your squirrels and raccoons feel like the predator is nearby and therefore keep them off. Some of these include wolves, foxes, bears, lions, and tigers.
6. Use other animals
Squirrels and raccoons can be scared of other animals especially dogs and cats. They can deter them from coming to your garden, as every time they come your dog/cat is likely to chase them away.
7. Keep trashcans away
One man’s trash may be another animal’s treasure. Seriously though, your kitchen waste could be appealing to these creatures who can smell it from afar. While fruits and vegetables are of interest to these animals, scraps of meat and fish can be attractive to raccoons too as they are omnivores.
If they once find great food in there, just like other animals they will make it a habit to seek and dish out food from your trashcan. It is therefore essential that you keep them shut properly with tightly locked lids. You can also clean your outdoor garbage cans daily using bleach and water.
This will keep the smell of food as faint as possible and will prevent them from getting attracted to the food and destroying your garden in the process.
If nothing else works sometimes the only way to get rid of squirrels and raccoons is to set traps in your garden. To trap them in it is essential that you place foods that would attract them such as tomatoes, corn, and even sunflower seeds.
These traps are normally made of steel and come in a variety of sizes. The food is used to get them in after which a spring door closes which locks them inside. Make sure to place the trap in an area that the squirrels are more likely to visit.
After trapping it, let it go in an area that is not close to your garden, and somewhere far away. However, it is important to check the laws of your state before doing so as some states prohibit the relocation of wildlife.
This is a more permanent solution as compared to the others but it is up to you whether you want to use it temporarily or not. It can be put up and taken down whenever you please and this can be dependent on several factors such as various seasons, growing a new plant, etc.
There are many different options of fences that you can use, which include the mesh, electric, and many others. It can be made according to your size and needs.
10. Barriers around the pond
As mentioned earlier, raccoons, in particular, are attracted to your pond and fish. A way in which you can prevent them from accessing it is to make a barrier around the pond. You can even spray a repellent around it, which will deter them.
Since they don’t know how to swim and will only be able to access your ponds from the sides, one thing that you can do is to make your pond deep.
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With these diverse methods, you can be sure to prevent squirrels and raccoons from invading your garden. It may seem impossible at first but it’s not. Start with the milder measures and if those don’t work then proceed to the more extreme ones. It may be a little challenging but it’ll definitely be worth it for your garden and sanity!
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.