How to Protect Your Garden from Squirrels

How to protect your garden from squirrels can often be a difficult battle. Do you have a hard time keeping them from eating your berries or your prized tomatoes?  Hopefully, this article will help you understand what squirrels eat and how you can protect your homegrown food from getting wiped out by the little critters.

Living in California has many benefits and the lovely climate is one of them. The climate is ideal for growing food whether you are a farmer or a backyard gardener. Our backyard produces quite a lot of wonderful things We have a peach tree, fig tree, two lemon trees, a tangelo tree, two avocado trees, an apple tree with 3 varieties, and a fruit salad tree (peach, plum, apricot combined).  We also each spring plant in our garden beds strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, various squash, peppers, and herbs like cilantro and basil.

One of the things that squirrels seem to love to eat from our garden is strawberries.  Yes, the squirrels love to eat our strawberries.   They also love our avocados, tomatoes, apples, peaches, and figs.  Our fig tree is finally producing enough that we both can share a good haul.  It is still frustrating as we don’t get much from our other younger trees and the squirrels sure do eat a lot off of our fruit trees.  Squirrels are most active in the early morning and the late afternoon.  Squirrels are not nocturnal animals and they hunt for their food during the day so they can see the recommended plants, netting, and deterrents that I recommend below.


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Squirrels eat a lot of garden fruits and nuts
Squirrels eat a lot of garden fruits and nuts


What Do Squirrels Eat?

Do squirrels eat your strawberries and other fruits, vegetables, and nuts in your garden? Most types of squirrels are vegetarians.  They prefer to consume mostly fruits and vegetables.  From what I have read, their favorite vegetables are mushrooms, corn, and broccoli. They seem to favor fruits such as apples, oranges, tomatoes, and avocados.  Squirrels do eat some insects so you can say they eat meat but mostly they are vegetarians and sometimes eat flowers too. They are also attracted to chocolate and would eat it if left out but it is highly toxic to them like it is for dogs.

Fruits That Squirrels Eat

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Strawberries, all berries
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Grapes

Vegetables That Squirrels Eat

  • Mushrooms
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Squash
  • Leafy greens; kale, spinach, etc
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Nuts That Squirrels Eat

  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Acorns
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • All of them!



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How to Protect Your Plants from Squirrels

Below are 5 ways to keep squirrels out of your garden to protect your fruits, vegetables, and nuts from squirrels.  Some involve building structures around your plants and others are suggestions for not making your yard a 24-hour all you can eat restaurant.  Try one or a combo of these tactics to squirrel proof your produce. All of these ideas will help keep animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, and deer, out of your yard.  How to get rid of squirrels is not easy but I recommend trying some of the following methods that we have had some luck with.

Cover Plants with Mesh or Netting

If your garden is not fenced in and enclosed with a material like chickenwire, you are welcoming squirrels to snack all day long.  If you cannot afford to build or have space for a large enclosure,  getting rolls of garden mesh will help.  Garden netting is a great way to prevent squirrels from your eating your vegetables, fruits, and garden plants. You can wrap this around smaller trees just before the fruits are ripe.  We also have wrapped this around our smaller garden bed plants like our tomatoes and strawberries. This will keep the squirrels and birds from getting all your produce or digging up your plants.


Build Enclosed Containers

Squirrels will try to get through anything so if you want to completely encage your plants you can do that. Be sure it is surrounded on all sides and from above.  They can also dig so if you are planting in a raised bed with a wood plank side they will probably not get in underground.  But above ground fix a fully enclosed area with materials like wood, PVC pipe, chicken wire, etc.  You can find some ideas on Pinterest or order items that I shared above.


Add Plants That Squirrels Do Not Like

Plant some of these flowers around your garden. They do not like the smell of these flowers and may keep them away.  Try planting one of a few of these flowers; marigolds, daffodils, geraniums, hyacinth, or lily-of-the-valley.   They also do not like strong-smelling plants such as peppermint, garlic, onion, or pepper. Try adding these to your garden for your enjoyment and not theirs.

Use Squirrel Repellents or Deterrents

There are several products good to help repel squirrels. I have heard about buying repellents or deterrents that contain the urine of squirrel predators. There are items for sale that include red fox urine for example.   They also do not like the smell of humans or dogs, so I have read about a hairdresser that brings home hair to scatter around her garden beds to keep squirrels away.  We have personally tried sprinkling cayenne pepper around and that seemed to only work for a day or so and they figured it out or were over it. Below is a list of natural sprays and repellents to use against squirrels. Your local Home Depot or Lowes may carry some of these or you can buy them on Amazon via the links below.  You can scare squirrels away with a faux bird of prey statues too, we have the owl in our yard and move it around every few days.



Do Not Attract Them to Your Yard

Squirrels will stay forever if they find ample food that is easy to access.  Keeping the buffet to a minimum will help.  Keep bird feeders, cat, or dog food out of your yard.  Cover and contain all trash, yard clippings, or compost piles.

Recipes For Your Homegrown Produce

When you are lucky enough to salvage your garden and enjoy some fresh grown fruits and vegetables, you will want to make something delicious. Here are some great recipes!


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The Short Order Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission on the sale at no additional cost to you. This helps with the costs of running the blog. Thank you! 

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