How to Keep Squirrels Out of Raised Garden Beds

  • What about figuring out ways of keeping squirrels out of your garden? We’re here to help you discourage squirrels from messing up with your plants and bulb debris. 
  • Invest in a feeding station to keep squirrels satisfied with the food you deliver them and prevent them from eating extra tomatoes that you plant. Otherwise, keep them away from destroying your yard by sprinkling cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, or even human hair! Ask your dog to show them that getting inside won’t show a keen sense. You can also install a chicken wire to stop them from crossing the line of your patience. 
  • Find out how to chase squirrels away in our guide. Good luck incorporating the following tips into your garden routine and getting rid of these nasty critters!

Squirrels love raised garden beds

Squirrels are cute! And raised beds are a delightful way to boost the appeal of your garden.

However, juxtaposing these two together looks good only in the pictures. The moment you see a squirrel damage these flawless raised garden beds, you’ll grasp the idea. 

Taking care of the garden is hard already. With all the grasshoppers, rats, deer, rabbits, snails, and several other bugs which take advantage of your hard work, these skillful bushy-tail owners are the last thing we need.

A squirrel, in late summer, often moves into orchards and vineyards (perennial crops) and digs burrows beneath the trees or vines. Late summer is also their birthing and mating season. It occurs twice a year: between December and February, and then again in late June through August. 

Squirrels are adept at climbing and digging, so getting to your raised garden beds is a piece of cake for them. Don’t be surprised if they find their way over, under, or through most garden barriers.

But why would they want to get there in the first place?

Why does a squirrel invade your garden?

Squirrel isn’t picky when it comes to food. These lovely and feisty rodents won’t refuse anything that’s at hand, but they favor vegetables and fruit. 

Squirrels especially enjoy corn, broccoli, mushrooms, and squash. No wonder gardeners will often find their beds dug up.

These shrewd animals are known for nibbling nuts and gobbling birdseed.

Their other favorite food is

  • garden seedlings, 
  • sunflower seeds, 
  • leaves,
  • berries,
  • fruits,   
  • carrots, 
  • lettuce,
  • flowers, and 
  • tree buds; 

Important: There is a reason why a squirrel fancies eating so often and so much. Like other critters, they have long incisor teeth that never stop growing. So they have to gnaw on various materials to keep them in a manageable size. 

These rodents like raised garden beds so much because they make them feel more comfortable than on ground-level garden space. They don’t have to worry about their natural predators as they stay on the ground.

Signs of squirrels activity

Not all of us are gardeners; it’s clear. Many people will visit their garden once or twice a week, whether it’s because a professional gardener does the whole job for us, or since we have few plants and they don’t need so much attention. 

We want to say that you may have a squirrel or a few in the garden and not know about it! Even though these rodents are active during daylight hours, we still can overlook them. Otherwise, if the damage appears overnight, consider another mammal the likely culprit.

So check out these signs that a squirrel is visiting your garden:

  1. Shallow digging spots in planting beds—Have you noticed small dug spots that neither you nor your gardener or family member worked on? A squirrel kind is known to target freshly planted seedbeds.
  1. Bite marks or missing fruit—Squirrels like tomatoes but may sometimes eat only a part of it and leave the rest behind; if you see also beans, squash, cucumbers, and eggplants missing or eaten in half, you know who to blame it for. 
  1. Missing plants—What about missing plants? Have you noticed any structural change in your beautiful garden? If you come across remnants of seedlings lying on the soil, or if they are gone entirely from your garden (leaves of perennials as well), our cute animals can be found guilty. 
  1. Container digging—it’s not only about raised garden beds but also pots. Squirrels utilize them to do their nut-hiding handiwork. It’s not that they want to destroy your plants; it’s their instinct that calls them to bury their findings. Occasionally, squirrels unearth young potted plants in this natural quest.
  1. Eaten flowers—Squirrels fancy daisy blooms and other flowers. So if you notice some half-eaten daisies, with half the petals and most of the center disk missing—squirrels might be feasting in your garden.
  1. Nibbled seedheads—these little devils nibble flat, ripening seedheads from the outside edges in. They are particularly fond of sunflowers.

Thankfully, a few intelligent gardeners came up with solutions to keep squirrels away from our perfectly curated raised garden beds. 

Let’s run through them! 

Ways to deter squirrels

Keeping squirrels out of your property is hard. 

Yet, if you want your flowers, fruits, or vegetables to survive in one piece until you come for their deliciousness, it’s necessary. 

So what are the options?

Let’s find out how to keep squirrels out of raised garden beds.

1. Employ natural predators

Squirrels’ natural predators are hawks and owls, so arrange their presence by placing raptor perches or owl nests nearby. 

Then, nature will take its course, so just sit and watch. 

Cruel but effective!

Tip: If you have small animals (like rabbits) in the yard that you’d like to keep sane and alive, don’t necessarily incorporate these predators into the life of your garden. 

2. Give them something to drink

This method works with humans as well, by the way. Sometimes we think that what we feel is hunger, but it’s actually just thirst. 

If you notice squirrels munching on your tomatoes or other juicy fruits or vegetables, it may mean that they need to drink, especially if we’re talking about dry, summer months. 

The solution is simple; during the growing season, provide the squirrels with a dish of fresh water.

They will probably leave your tomatoes alone. 

3. Put your raised beds near your sprinklers

When it comes to being sprinkled with water, squirrels are losing battle. They hate getting wet. 

Sprinkles provide a double threat: water and its unpredictable appearance. Even humans never really know when the sprinklers will turn on!

Motion-activated sprinklers are even more exciting. 

It’s enough to keep the squirrels away—just wait as they get sprayed a couple of times.

4. Cover the ground with mulch or gravel 

Squirrels aren’t fond of these materials. They don’t like the feel of it under their feet (these little princesses, aren’t they?).

Add mulch or gravel to your garden beds if you want squirrels to keep their distance. 

Tip: When you use mulch over newly planted bulbs, it will also help disguise the scent of the fresh bulbs. Try also laying down aluminum foil.

5. Blood meal 

It’s a scent-based repellent that most squirrels avoid.

Consider that you need to reapply it after each rain; otherwise, it won’t be effective.

Important: It’s a bit smelly product, especially when wet. 

6. Ask a dog for help

Dogs and cats are effective pest deterrents. 

Most dogs are scary enough to deter rats, mice, rabbits, and squirrels, even the smallest ones. 

They won’t take that life-threatening risk for a couple of nuts!

Give your pets some free time in the yard, and you’ll see fewer squirrels in your garden. 

What about predator urine? Will it work? Unfortunately, predator urine alone doesn’t affect squirrels’ activities. So while it seems to be a good idea initially, the only problem is that wild squirrels are smart—they will be scared at first but will quickly notice that these scents don’t lead to any danger.  

7. Install a feeder

Win them over with treats—they will distract your little friends away from your garden. 

Sounds like an approach you would like to try out? Why should we deter squirrels from a raised bed with the help of predators if we can share our food with them in the feeding station created especially for them, right?

Installing bird feeders with nuts, seeds, or fruit that squirrels enjoy will spare your tomato plants. 

It’s squirrels’ nature to go for easy targets, so if they see something they like eating that’s within their reach, they’ll go for it and leave your raised bed alone.

8. Put your beds behind a fence

We’ve just explained how skillful squirrels are, but here’s a little disclaimer. A serious wire fence will work for more protection from them; a chicken wire fence of 22 inches will do! 

To keep squirrels away, go high! They are expert climbers, so you have to put some actual effort into it. Also, make the top of your fence harder to get around. Then, instead of just going straight, complicate things for them.

Wire fencing, such as 

  • hardware cloth, 
  • plastic bird netting, or 
  • chicken wire, 

can keep squirrels out. 

Tip: When you install fencing, go a reasonable distance into the ground as well—it will stop squirrels from digging holes.

Funny fact: When fences are high and solid—even if our little friends would be able to climb over the fence—they may not want to. They’d feel trapped inside if predators (such as your dog) were to come in.

9. Row covers

We usually use floating row covers for frost and insect protection, but they’ll also work against squirrels. 

It’s another way to ward off squirrels—they’re not going to risk getting trapped underneath the tunnel or tangled in the fabric.

10. Human hair

Squirrels hate them; they just can’t stand the smell. 

Consider sprinkling a barrier of hair clippings around your garden or even working it into the soil when you plant bulbs squirrels adore.

Using the part of your body sounds a little creepy, but it actually works wonders. 

11. Cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, hot pepper flakes

Cayenne pepper is just another way to deter these cute little beings. 

Similar to what you did with hair, sprinkle cayenne pepper in your garden’s ground—use either grounds or flakes. You can also sprinkle them over the commonly disturbed areas, but it will keep them away only from this limited piece of ground.

Peppermint is one of the most common solutions to keep squirrels away (as well as spiders, mice, and many others).

Tip: Consider using peppermint essential oil integrated into a natural squirrel deterrent—it’s one of the most reliable solutions.

Squirrels don’t like strong-smelling herbs such as lavender, rosemary, oregano, or sage. They’re not fond of hot pepper flakes either. 

So, if they come along behind you and dig up the seedlings you’ve just plant, sprinkle red pepper flakes around on the soil in the planting hole. It will stop them from planting hole in that spot in the future. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

It's a widespread myth that squirrels love nothing more than nuts. But actually, squirrels' preferences are much more inclusive: peanuts (even peanut butter!), pecans, sunflower, pistachios, grapes, corn, squash, zucchini, pumpkin, strawberries, carrots, and apples—it's all on their favorite menu. On top of that, they're also happy to grab a human snack like Oreo cookies.
You can feed squirrels with seeds (like sunflower seeds), nuts (for example, peanuts), corn, fruit, leaves, fungi, and bark; they will get crazy of joy if you please them with the mixture of all these ingredients—it will also be a balanced source of nutrition for these little animals.
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