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How to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants: 9 Tips & Tricks

squirrel on the ground

Squirrels are one of the most common rodents, and they infuriate plant owners across the US by destroying and eating everything they can get their paws on. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can prevent or deter squirrels from eating the precious fruits of your labor. Let’s check out the best ways to accomplish this job.

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The 9 Tips & Tricks to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants

1. Repel Them With Distasteful Odors

putting used coffee grounds on the plants
Image By: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Squirrels have a keen sense of smell that helps them find their next meal, but it can work to your advantage, too. Squirrels are naturally repelled by certain odors, and by spreading those odors around your property, you can deter them.

For best results, spread these around your pots and planters:
  • Fresh coffee grounds
  • Cayenne pepper, chili powder, pepper flakes
  • Rodent repellent
  • Predator urine (often found at nurseries)
  • Citrus oil

2. Physical Deterrents

Physically keeping the squirrels out of your pots is the most surefire way to make sure your plants don’t get eaten. There are many ways you can block squirrels from reaching your plants, but we’ll just list a few you can try.

A few to try:
  • Chicken wire can be strategically placed around pots to prevent squirrels from digging in them.
  • Stones layered in the soil prevent digging as well while not impeding water flow.
  • Chew-proof netting can be draped over plants.
  • Aluminum foil can be fashioned into lids with holes to cover your plants, and squirrels will avoid the reflective material.

3. Scare Them Away

Once scared, squirrels will typically avoid the area. You can use loud, clanging wind chimes, string up aluminum foil pie plates, or put up owl statues. Combining these will increase your chances of success even more. Owls are a natural predator of squirrels, and the noise alarms them, so they’ll definitely avoid your yard when hunting for a snack in the future.

4. Get a Dog

dog chasing a squirrel
Image Credit: RyanTaylor, Shutterstock

This may not be possible for everyone, but getting a dog is one of the best passive ways to deter squirrels. They’ll be able to smell your dog’s fur and urine around the area and will know that the area has a predator. You can also save the hair from brushing your furry friend and spread it around the area for bonus protection.

5. Use Traps

If all else fails, you can always try to catch the tricky little pests. Lethal traps can be dangerous to all animals, so always go with non-lethal traps whenever possible. You can find rodent traps at most home improvement stores. One common trap is a cage that snaps shut when the squirrel takes the bait, which is typically peanut butter or nuts. Once caught, simply release it in a different area.

6. Feed Them

This seems very counterintuitive, but sometimes you can deter squirrels from munching on your plants by feeding them. Put out some water and nuts in an area away from your plants and see if it makes a difference. This can backfire and draw even more squirrels, but it can work with limited squirrel populations.

7. Motion Activated Sprinklers

stationary sprinkler on the grass
Image Credit: byrev, Pixabay

Motion-activated sprinklers can be very effective in scaring away squirrels and other small pests. However, you must be sure to only turn them on at certain times because people and pets can trigger them and run up your water bill. This approach may also not be very effective with large groups of squirrels.

8. Line the Soil With Mesh Wire

Especially for underground-growing plants, placing a sheet of mesh wire on the soil will prevent squirrels from digging. Another alternative is chew-proof netting, which has smaller holes. Covering the soil with these will still allow the plants to receive sunlight and water, though you may need a different solution if they get large.

9. Protect Your Bird Feeders

If you have bird feeders, you know that squirrels love to loot them for their goodies. There are a lot of ways you can squirrel proof your bird feeders, so let’s check ‘em out.

  • Grease the poles with cooking oil so squirrels can’t climb up them
  • Put feeders on isolated poles away from trees, your house, and other elevated positions
  • Add safflower seeds, which birds can eat, but squirrels hate them
  • Consider investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder, which hides the food when squirrels come onto the platform

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Squirrels are one of the cutest menaces in the US, capable of finding food in surprising places. To protect your plants at home, employ some of the tips detailed above. Use them together for even better results.

Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay


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