How To Keep Squirrels Out of Raised Beds

Squirrels may look all cute and innocent, but these rodents can cause severe damage to crops in your raised beds, leading to significant losses. For this reason, knowing how to successfully keep these destructive rodents from your garden can be a great relief. Luckily, I’m here to help.

Here’s how to keep squirrels out of raised bed:

  1. Look out for signs that squirrels are invading your garden.
  2. Use sprinklers or hose pipes to repel squirrels.
  3. Keep a pet.
  4. Erect a fence around your raised beds.
  5. Provide a feeder for the squirrels.
  6. Put your raised bed in a greenhouse.
  7. Use natural squirrel repellents.
  8. Keep bird food away from your raised beds.
  9. Keep your garden clean.
  10. Use winter mulch made of straw.
  11. Plant your bulbs deeper than average.
  12. Use harmless traps.
  13. Eliminate standing water from your backyard.
  14. Call pest control experts.

This article will provide an in-depth guide on how to keep squirrels out of raised beds. So, if you’ve found yourself having to fight off these mischievous rodents, make sure to read until the end to learn more.

1. Look Out for Signs That Squirrels Are Invading Your Garden

Squirrels like to snack on ripening fruits and vegetables such as melons, cucumbers, squash, and spring bulbs. Keeping the rodents out of your garden is not a walk in the park. However, you must do it if you want your fruits, flowers, or tubers to grow to maturity without being threatened by these invaders. 

You can tell that squirrels are invading your garden by looking out for the following signs:

Dug Out Bulbs

Although chipmunks and groundhogs are usually the main culprits behind digged out spring bulbs, squirrels are also common suspects. They like to dig out bulbs, especially in autumn, for two reasons:

  • To feed on the bulbs.
  • To make holes where they store the food they have collected.

Therefore, if you find holes and dug out bulbs in your raised beds, know that squirrels might have invaded them.

Missing or Damaged Crops

Squirrels steal ripened fruits and vegetables. These sneaky rodents love feeding on soft and juicy produce such as melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, among other fruits and vegetables.

Interestingly, they bite and don’t eat fruits completely. Therefore, if fruits and vegetables are disappearing in your garden or you find some with mark bites on them, there is a high probability that squirrels are visiting.

Uprooted Plants in Containers

Squirrels also feed on insects and sometimes dig into containers where plants are growing to look for them. As a result, they may uproot plants in your raised beds in the process. So, if you notice uprooted plants in your raised beds, squirrels could be the culprits.

Disrupted Soil and Mulch

Squirrels dig out the soil in raised beds and pots, looking for bugs or vegetables to eat. Unfortunately, they also tend to disrupt the soil and mulch from the beds while doing so. Therefore, if you notice this phenomenon in your garden, it’s a sign of squirrel infestation.

2. Use Sprinklers or Hose Pipes To Repel Squirrels

Squirrels don’t like getting wet. Therefore, placing a sprinkler near or in your raised bed will scare them away. Moreover, you can use a hosepipe to sprinkle them with water whenever they come to the garden. If you do this several times, the rodent will associate your bed with danger and keep off.

Installing motion sensor sprinklers works the best. When a squirrel approaches, the sprinkler senses and scares away the rodent. If this happens enough times, the squirrel will avoid the place altogether.

The use of sprinklers helps you kill two birds with one stone; you water the garden in addition to keeping the destructive rodents at bay.

Because most raised beds are movable, you can quickly move them to a place where you can use sprinklers to keep squirrels at bay.

3. Keep a Pet 

A scared squirrel is as good as gone. Dogs and cats are great when it comes to scaring away squirrels in organic gardens. The rodents are even afraid of puppies and kittens. 

Allowing your dog or cat to spend time in the yard significantly reduces the number of squirrels visiting your raised garden; with time, they’ll disappear completely. The rodents will associate your garden with danger and stay away from it.

However, some pets can also be mischievous and play on your raised beds. Luckily, you can keep them away from the garden and still scare the squirrels away from your raised bed since the ruinous rodents also fear the sound of barking dogs.

4. Erect a Fence Around Your Raised Bed

Erecting fences around your raised beds is a perfect way to keep squirrels away in an organic garden. However, it would help if you made the fence in a specific way so that the rodents can’t get in.

Squirrels can dig pretty well into the ground. So, it would be best to go deeper – about 6 inches (15.24 cm) when installing your fence. Moreover, construct a good height fence because squirrels are also good climbers.

Additionally, make the top of the fence hard to climb over instead of just constructing a straight fence. Although the rodents might climb over, they fear getting trapped inside when a predator attacks. Consequently, they’ll opt to stay away from your garden.

Squirrels can squeeze themselves through small spaces. For this reason, the material you use for the fence should be strong enough. Therefore, look for netting or fencing designed to keep squirrels and other rodents off.

A heavy-duty material such as stainless steel mesh or wire hardware cloth will serve you well. If you want to be extra cautious, you can use small domes or cages made of fine mesh to protect individual plants or small rows until the crops mature.

For enhanced security against these pests, you can put spikes on the fence. These cause imbalance to the rodents when they try to climb up the structure. However, spikes may hurt the rodents, so try to avoid them.

Moreover, you can always spray apple cider vinegar on the fence because the pungent stench repels the rodents. You can also use garlic or onion instead of apple cider vinegar.

5. Provide a Feeder for the Squirrels

Have you ever heard of the saying “attracting more bees with honey?” Well, this method can also work for squirrels. Try to win the squirrels over by treating them with their favorite dish, and they will spare the crops planted in your raised bed.

This is an ideal strategy to protect your raised beds if you’re practicing organic gardening.

Squirrels go for easy targets. So, if you provide them with a feeder containing nuts, seeds, or fruits that they love, they will feed on these and leave your tomatoes, vegetables, and tubers in your raised bed alone.

6. Put Your Raised Bed in a Greenhouse

Although a more expensive method, the use of greenhouses helps to keep off squirrels from your raised garden successfully.

You can buy a ready-made greenhouse of your preferred size and shape or obtain materials and install one according to your preferences. Squirrels won’t access your raised bed if it’s in a greenhouse, and this will give you peace of mind.

Besides keeping off the squirrels, a greenhouse will also enable you to plant exotic crops that do not do well in your natural climate.

Moreover, this method will be suitable for both organic and non-organic gardens.

7. Use Natural Squirrel Repellents

There are several natural substances that you can use to repel squirrels from your raised bed. Most of these repellants have strong smells that squirrels won’t tolerate. 

Here are some examples of organic repellents that are available in the market: 

  • Predator urine: Spreading predator urine around your garden will keep squirrels away. You can use the urine of animals like coyotes, foxes, weasels, snakes, owls, and raccoons, among others, to repel squirrels. However, you should sprinkle the urine regularly for this method to work. Moreover, coupling this method with other strategies like fencing will increase its chances of success.
  • Pepper: Sprinkling cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, or garlic on and around your plants, especially when they are about to flower, can help to keep squirrels off. When the little invaders taste the pepper, they will avoid the garden altogether.
  • Plants with strong scents: Plants like nasturtiums have strong scents that repel squirrels. Squirrels also hate the scent of allium flowers, including daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths, and marigolds. Therefore, planting these plants around your raised bed will protect your garden from these destructive rodents.
  • Chicken manure: Chicken manure is another deterrent that can save you from the destructive activities of squirrels. Simply collect the droppings and sprinkle them around your raised bed to repel the rodents.

Note: If natural repellents are unavailable, you can use the following alternatives:

  • Raptor perches or owl nest boxes: If squirrels are a menace to your raised bed, you can install raptor perches or owl nest boxes. These attract predators like owls that feed on squirrels and will discourage the rodents from coming to your garden.
  • Fake owls: As an alternative to attracting live owls to your garden, you can use fake owls to scare away the squirrels. Make sure to move the fake owl to different parts of the garden from time to time so that the rodents do not discover the trick. You can also use rubber snakes instead of fake owls.

8. Keep Bird Food Away From Your Raised Beds

Bird food, such as nuts, seeds, and berries, attract squirrels. Therefore, ensure that these foods are out of reach to the squirrels. This is also an ideal way to keep these rodents at bay in an organic garden.

Therefore, it would help if you don’t hang bird feeders on trees near your raised beds. Instead, hang them on isolated poles about 60 to 72 inches (1.52-1.83 m) off the ground. However, it would help if you remembered that squirrels can jump from surrounding perches and still reach the food. 

To avoid this, ensure that the poles with food are about 96 to 120 inches (2.44-3.05 m) away from nearby houses, trees, or other structures.

9. Keep Your Garden Clean

Squirrels love to consume free fallen fruits and berries. Therefore, you’ll be attracting a lot of squirrels to your garden if you don’t collect all fallen fruits, nuts, and berries in time to keep your raised bed clean.

In addition to collecting the fallen fruits, it would help if you remove any trash and dispose of it in a lockable bin. This will also reduce the number of squirrels visiting your raised bed.

10. Use Winter Mulch Made of Straw

Winter mulch made of straw helps keep squirrels away from your garden during winter, in addition to insulating the soil. Therefore, spread a thick layer of winter mulch, especially around your bulbs. This will inevitably make it difficult for any squirrel that accesses the garden to dig out the bulbs in your raised beds.

11. Plant Your Bulbs Deeper Than Average

Planting bulbs deeper than average has practically been shown to protect them against attacks by squirrels. So, the rodents can’t reach them even if they dig around your raised beds.

For more protection against these annoying rodents:

  • Cover the area around the bulbs with chicken manure or bone meal, as these will help to repel the squirrels. 
  • Line the planting holes of your bulbs with wire mesh that will hinder the squirrels from digging. 
  • Put some sharp crushed gravel around the hole to discourage the rodents from digging.
  • Lay two layers of wire mesh, one on top of the bulbs and another at the bottom – while the bulbs will grow through the holes in the wire mesh, the squirrels will not be able to reach the bulbs through the wire.

12. Use Harmless Traps

As the name suggests, harmless traps help catch squirrels that come to your raised beds without harming them. An example of such a trap is the box trap. It comprises a small metal cage with a spring-loaded door attached to a plate inside the cage.

To use this trap:

  • Place some bait on the plate that will attract the squirrel into the trap. You can use a commercial bait or make your own using bird seed, fruits, grains, and nuts. And this is advantageous because of its strong aroma of black walnut that the squirrels can smell from a distance.
  • When the squirrel applies some pressure to the plate, it will trigger the spring, causing the door to shut and trap the squirrel.
  • Since you do not want to kill the animal, transfer it to a cage away from your garden and provide it with food. Once you are sure that the area around the cage has enough food for the squirrel, you can release it. The rodent will not return to your raised bed because it is in an area with plenty of food.

You can also use mouse traps to scare away squirrels without trapping or harming them. 

Here’s how to use a mouse trap:

  1. Anchor the traps into the ground at a place where the rodents like digging.
  2. Cover the traps with newspapers and some dirt.

When the rodent comes to dig, its movement will disturb the newspaper, setting off the trap and producing a loud bang that will scare away the squirrel. When the squirrels associate the place with danger, they’ll avoid it.

13. Eliminate Standing Water From Your Backyard

Squirrels also require water to survive. Therefore, if there is standing water around your garden, it will attract animals, including these mischievous rodents.

For this reason, it would help if you removed any water sources near your raised bed to keep squirrels away.

So, inspect your backyard for any open tubs of water and empty them or cover them with a lid. Furthermore, check for any holes or depressions around your garden that can collect water and fill them up with soil.

Additionally, ensure that your garden pipes or outdoor faucets are not leaking, as squirrels can lick water droplets using their tongues.

14. Call Pest Control Experts

If you try out other methods and squirrels are still a menace to your raised bed, it would be best to seek professional help. You can reach out to pest control experts, who will trap the rodents and take them off your garden.

However, make sure to find out which companies handle squirrels in a humane way since physically harming the rodents isn’t ethical. Moreover, always read customer reviews and compare pricing before choosing to make business with a specific company.

Key Takeaways

If allowed into your raised beds, squirrels can wreak havoc. Therefore, it would help if you paid close attention to your garden in an effort to detect any signs of a squirrel attack. When you suspect that these rodents are attacking your crops, take immediate action before they cause any type of destructive damage to your crops.

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