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How to Deter Squirrels from Garden & Backyard Spaces (Tip: Blood Meal)

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It seems there’s always something after our precious gardens and the crops we grow. Whether it’s munching on your tomatoes one bite at a time, chewing plastic pots, or burying nuts literally everywhere, squirrels can be a pain! Find out how to deter squirrels from garden, containers, and backyard spaces. Take action to repel squirrels now!

These rodents stop at nothing to get the food they want. They’ll literally take one bite out of every tomato instead of just finishing the darn thing!!

And, they’re bold. Just check out this saucy fellow coming right up on our deck looking to see what I’ve planted for him!

Squirrel climbing on deck - How to Deter Squirrels from Garden and Backyard spaces
Check out this shameless squirrel climbing on our deck in June 2022. Find out How to Deter Squirrels from Garden and Backyard spaces to protect your plants!

You’ve likely seen videos of wily squirrels doing all sorts of ninja tricks to get to bird feeders. Heck, a squirrel broke our bird feeder years ago when we first moved here.

So what can you do to repel squirrels?! Well, we’re battling them, too, so I’ll give you my favorite tips.

Why I Need to Repel Squirrels!

When heading out to the deck to water our plants one summer, we found seedlings dug up every which way!

Red beet seedlings squirrel damage container
A squirrel dug up our baby red beet seedlings in our 2020 container garden!

Our kale was almost completely uprooted and red beets at first appeared missing but we soon found they were simply buried. It didn’t take long to discover this all was due to squirrel damage!

After I’d found the squirrel chew marks and uprooted plants, I decided on using blood meal to humanely repel squirrels.

Lo and behold, later in the afternoon while washing some dishes, I saw an Eastern gray squirrel jump up on the railing of our deck. The squirrel looked down at the kale with his foot thumping wildly.

I’d never seen this behavior before! A quick Google search produced numbers of references citing this squirrel was either angry or fearful.

I’m thinking it’s the former!

Squirrel Damage
Squirrel on the deck railing looking for plants to eat

After noticing damage in my garden, I went on high alert to watch for pests.

Within moments, the squirrel climbed the tree in the middle of our backyard, inching his way down to my pea plants at the base. I think I prevented quite a bit of squirrel damage with my quick tricks earlier in the day!

The Eastern Gray Squirrel is quite at home in our yard, despite our dog who believes they are mortal enemies. All you have to do is breathe the word “squirrel” and she runs to the door, barking mad.

I realized I was going to need more than her numerous trips outside to keep the squirrels at bay.

Kale in container with squirrel digging inside
I need to focus on how to deter squirrels from garden pots and plots, like this poor kale where he dug around!

How to Deter Squirrels from Garden Spaces

With the coronavirus quarantine, I haven’t been able to get out and buy various gardening supplies on demand. I could think of all kinds of ways to shut down squirrel damage in my gardens and pots!

Unfortunately, I was going to have to get creative, because Amazon didn’t have all the gardening stuff I wanted available for shipping.

1. Blood Meal to Deter Squirrels & Garden Pests

Blood Meal to Deter Squirrels and Garden Pests
Blood Meal Nitrogen supplement is useful in repelling squirrels from the garden.

For many years I’ve relied on blood meal to repel squirrels, bunnies, groundhogs, and other veggie stealers in the garden. The dried blood certainly sends a message to stay away!

I always try to keep some Miracle Grow Blood Meal on hand to apply to the ground surrounding the plants and inside the flower pots. After finding the squirrel chew marks and ravaged plants, I sprinkled a bit of blood meal to deter squirrels and other garden pests.

The biggest thing to remember when using blood meal is that it is a fertilizer. Don’t apply it freely like confetti because it does add nutrients to the soil. You can to keep a good balance!

Another thing is that the rain or watering will wash away blood meal, so be aware that applications don’t last long term.

2. Protecting Plants with Plastic Fencing

Plastic Gutter Guard as a Garden Pest Barrier
Plastic gutter guard creates a barrier to protect young pea shoots and roots from squirrels in the garden.

I started some of my small to medium sized garden containers first, so I needed to act quickly to protect the plants from squirrels. I wished with all my heart that I could go to the Dollar Tree to buy some wire baskets and wire wastebaskets to serve as cloches over my young plants.

Sadly, that was not in the cards with the pandemic and quarantine. Instead, I found an ultra cheap alternative!

I ordered Gutter Guard on Amazon for only $4 in a pinch. Boy, was it worth every penny! I was able to get a 6-inch by 20-foot roll of plastic gutter guard to protect many of my plants.

On a rough count, I put gutter guard around at least 10 plants and still have some left. And, I liked it so much that I went back and ordered two more rolls that same day!

It’s easy to cut gutter guard with regular scissors, and you can make it any size you need it to be. I simply reconnect it in a few places with garden plant ties that I’ve also found very handy for helping to train my plants or giving weakened stems a little extra support.

pea plant with pest barrier plastic fencing
Protecting seedlings and deterring squirrels from garden plants

Editor’s Note: Since this post first went live, I discovered a Prop 65 warning on the gutter guard. I contacted the company and they informed me that “The cancer warning label is for state of CA only and you have consume/eat about 50 pounds. This product is non toxic.”

As a parent, I was still concerned with questions – what if anything leaches into the soil from the rain or the sun? What if it hurts by touching the plants?

The company assured me this was not the case, but I still intend to only use these for probably one season just to be on the safe side. They also told me “G636 is made of PVC with uv stablizer.”

I have seen people use PVC pipes to stake tomatoes or make trellises. Hopefully this falls into the same category!

I did luck out later in the year with a trip to the Dollar Tree wearing a mask. The Gilbertsville / Boyertown Dollar Tree did not have any wire wastebaskets, but the one down in Limerick by the Limerick Diner did! I bought 20 black wire wastebaskets for gardening!

I have placed these over top of our new snow pea seedlings. They have done great and even grew to the tops of some of the wire wastebaskets.

Using wire wastebaskets as cloches prevents animals from digging up my plants and eating the roots or the pea seeds. This approach allows our garden to grow despite the Eastern Gray squirrels!

Plastic Chicken Wire Squirrel Barrier

Since this post originally went live, I’ve found a product I like even better than the gutter guard!

Check out my post about creating a garden fence using food-safe plastic chicken wire you can buy on Amazon!

3. Squirrel Repellent

I am opposed to poisons and poisoning products for squirrels and wildlife, however, you can try squirrel repellents. We’ve also used granules like this when figuring out how to get rid of groundhogs in the garden. (It’s a work in progress!)

Like blood meal, you may have to reapply the squirrel repellent products after it rains for best results.

Squirrel Damage FAQs

Check out these interesting questions about how to deter squirrels from garden and backyard spaces.

Gray squirrel on the deck near a ramp
This bold squirrel had a nice stroll across the deck over to my plants!

What deters squirrels?

Squirrel repellent is one product to try for deterring squirrels. For a natural / organic approach, use bloodmeal to repel squirrels. The smell of dried blood is often enough to keep most garden nuisance animals away.

Squirrels are expert climbers, so you might not be able to fence them out. However, you may be able to protect the roots of plants like snow peas with a little barrier so the squirrels can’t dig them up to eat them.

Does Blood Meal repel squirrels?

Blood meal is a great deterrent for squirrel damage, bunnies, and other animals that want to eat or destroy your garden. It’s also actually a fertilizer, so you can help your plants even more.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that too much Blood Meal can inhibit flowering and cause other issues for your plants. Use with care!

Are there any plants that repel squirrels?

Hot peppers and plants in the allium family (like garlic and onions) help to repel squirrels. Flowering bulbs like daffodils and hyacinths also may deter squirrels in the garden. You can try growing mint to help in repelling squirrels as well.

Why do squirrels chew plastic?

Squirrels chew plastic because they can. Their sharp teeth allow them to gnaw right through plastic bins, sheds, and containers, not to mention flower pots. Squirrels chew on things to see if they’re edible and also to gain access to foods like bird seed.

(This is why it’s so important to keep birdseed locked up tight in a bird seed container.)

Gray squirrel crouching on wooden deck railing
This gray squirrel is ready to feast on my garden plants!! The funny angle of the slide makes it look like he took a ride to get there. (:

Other Squirrel Damage Tips

In addition to the blood meal and the plastic gutter guard plant barriers, I set out my owl decoy. The garden owl is solar powered to move its head from time to time. I can’t remember which brand I ordered but mine is many years old.

You can find these garden owl decoys across a range of prices on Amazon. I have found it to be helpful in a multi-pronged approach to protecting our garden from pests.

We’ve planted a bunch of marigolds to add a fragrance that squirrels and other garden pests don’t seem to like. My mom has sworn by marigolds for as long as I can remember. Hopefully this will help!

Squirrel about to leap onto a hot tub
This squirrel is all over our deck!

Finally, I also plan to leave some of my dog’s freshly brushed hair in the garden and a bit in each pot. I’ve put hair from a fresh haircut in the garden before and that seemed to help as well. Here’s to hoping these tricks are enough to keep the squirrels out!

Our neighborhood used to have an adorable albino squirrel. For him, I could probably spare a few snacks so my kids could see him up close.

The girls named the neighborhood albino squirrel “Lucky” and told me it’s actually a she, but we don’t truly know. We haven’t seen the white squirrel in quite some time, but at any rate, we used to enjoy when we did. I don’t think we would mind having that squirrel in our yard!

Wishing you all luck with your gardens this year! Please feel free to share any other squirrel damage prevention tips or questions in our comments below. We love hearing from you!

06.27.22 – Updated to add FAQs on how to deter squirrels from garden spaces and added more photos. Updated old photos to better quality and sizes. Added section on squirrel repellent.

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