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Best Hacks to Keep Squirrels from Digging up Plants

A friend from south Georgia became so frustrated with squirrels destroying his plants that he bought an air rifle to drive them away.

Thankfully, before he did something stupid, I advised him on some tricks to keep squirrels away.

Generally, to keep squirrels from digging up plants, you shall use natural deterrents like planting plants they hate and adding cayenne pepper flakes. Meanwhile, placing chicken wires and mulches over the plant bulbs protects them from squirrel invasion.

squirrels digging and eating plant bulbs
Squirrels love to dig loose soils for their food cache.

Some of these tricks work in the long run, while some fade away with passing time or after it rains.

Therefore, read on to learn how you can keep squirrels away from digging plants and protect your plants or their bulbs.

Why do Squirrels Dig up Plants?

A squirrel is a sneaky rodent that will wreak havoc on your garden in the name of its food cache.

Generally, squirrels dig up potted or gardens plant to hide their food and use it later in winter.

Additionally, if potting soil or garden soil is loose, squirrels can dig it up and store their food more easily.

leftover tomato of squirrel
Squirrels eat ripening fruits and vegetables.

If you scramble the soil squirrels dug up previously, you might find their treasure lying underneath. Besides digging up plants for food cache, squirrels also love to eat plant bulbs.

Do you know squirrels stalk gardeners planting bulbs, so they can have a party all night by stealing those bulbs? Truly sneaky, right!!!

In general, the plant bulbs that squirrels usually feast upon are Tulip, Crocuses, Lily, Dahlia, etc.

However, there are some plant bulbs that squirrels hate and find disgusting. Some are onions, Garlic, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Alliums, etc.

plant bulbs that squirrel love to dig
Squirrels rely on protein-rich plant bulbs as they can not digest cellulose.

Therefore, If your garden has many plants with protein-rich bulbs, squirrels could be digging up to feast on them.

Furthermore, they might be using the pre-dug holes of bulbs to keep their beloved nuts.

How to Identify Squirrel Damage?

Squirrels are indeed sneaky invaders, but they are not sneaky enough to hide the evidence they leave behind.

It is probably another mischievous act pulled by a squirrel if you see disarrayed plants or demolished soil with holes around it.

Generally, squirrels dug holes are shallow, almost two inches in diameter. And you can notice no messed-up soils around the hole.

Furthermore, squirrels kidnap freshly planted spring bulbs without a trace or leave them after taking a nibble.

squirrel dug holes
Squirrel dug holes are generally shallow and are almost two or three inches in diameter.

In addition to plant bulbs, squirrels eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables that have begun to ripen.

Therefore, stay alert and look out for any missing vegetables or fruits.

If you notice missing or half-eaten leftover fruits, you can say squirrels had a great buffet!

Besides the garden, you can also notice squirrels’ hard work on the plant pots or containers with holes.

How to Keep Squirrels from Digging up Plants?

Squirrels can get under your skin with their frequent destruction of expensive plants.

Meanwhile, their tiny, innocent-looking furry appearance establishes a Love-Hate relationship.

But do not worry! You can follow these tricks to keep squirrels from digging up plants.

1. Natural Repellents

Amidst many natural repellents, I think adding plants that squirrels dislike the most would be the best choice.

You will benefit from more beautiful flowers in the garden while keeping squirrels away.

Generally, planting daffodil or hyacinth bulbs can work effectively against squirrels ruining bulbs.

Therefore, surround your garden with those plants to discourage squirrels from digging.

tulips and hyacinth flowers
To prevent squirrels from digging, try placing the plants they dislike the most close to the ones they enjoy the most.

Meanwhile, another method is spraying their predators like weasels, coyotes, and foxes’ urine around the garden.

But this method fails as the smell fades away with time or when it rains. So, you will need to apply from time to time.

Other than that, you can also spread some chili, cayenne, hot pepper, and garlic peppers around plants or bulbs.

It generally works after the squirrel eats flakes as they have capsaicin compound that causes the spice in peppers.

You can make a solution by mixing water, hot pepper sauce, and washing detergent in a small bottle.

Fill a spray bottle halfway with the mixture and shake vigorously before spraying the soil in your potted plants.

Once the squirrel gets the taste of mouth-burning hot spice, they will most likely stay away.

Similarly, spraying vinegar around your garden can also be useful to keep plants protected.

Last but not least, dogs are also often helpful in keeping squirrels at bay. Therefore, you can utilize the shed furs of dogs to scare the squirrels away.

2. Covering Bulbs

Do you know the front teeth of the squirrels keeps growing out throughout their life?

And to keep their teeth short, they gnaw hard nuts and apparently destroy our garden.

However, they can not make way past metallic wires regardless of their strong teeth.

Therefore, you can lay chicken wire over the planted bulbs and cover them up with soil.

chicken wire to protect bulbs from squirrels digging
Lay the chicken wire on top of the planted bulbs to protect them from squirrels’ bulb heists.

Your plants will easily come out from holes in the wire mesh, but squirrels will have a problem stealing bulbs.

Even if it takes a little bit longer, it is a worthwhile and fail-safe strategy to keep squirrels from digging.

Furthermore, you can resort to building or buying a metallic wire cage to plant bulbs in it.

Although plastic fences might sound a bit affordable here, they mean nothing to the sharp teeth of squirrels.

Similarly, you should add a few inches thick layers of mulches over the planted bulbs.

It helps your bulbs with nutrients and solves the problem of squirrels, just like killing two birds with one stone.

3. Adding Gravel

You can say squirrels are not too hardworking creatures like ants, so they prefer easy foods. That is why squirrels like loose soil in your gardens or pots to dig.

Interestingly, squirrels tend to avoid digging gravel. So, you can use their dislike once again to protect plants.

Therefore, add gravel to the soil mix when planting the bulbs or plants to discourage squirrels from digging.

gravel on soil
The addition of gravel to soil discourages squirrels from digging further but instead increases soil drainage capacity.

Meanwhile, adding gravel to the soil mix increases drainage, and you know well drainage is beneficial.

Along with gravels, you can also use crushed oyster shells to discourage squirrels.

4. Sacrificial Plants or Food Offering

If you are losing in this man vs. squirrel war, regardless of using different solutions, you may as well sacrifice a plant.

As I mentioned earlier, squirrels prefer to have an easy buffet than to work hard.

Therefore, offering squirrels some easy foods or plants can steer them clear from your garden and pots.

You can provide a plate full of their favorite nuts and fruits so that squirrels have no reason to dig up the garden for food.

But this method could also be a fatal mistake as it can invite more squirrels to your place.

5. Scaring Squirrels Away

As squirrels are afraid of their natural predators, like owls, you can use owl scarecrows to scare squirrels.

By placing scary fake owls, squirrels are most likely to fall into a trap and stay away from them.

scarecrow owl for squirrels
Place squirrels predator scarecrows to scare the squirrels away.

However, you will need to change the position of the scarecrow from time to time to intimidate squirrels.

Meanwhile, you can also use motion sensors to water sprinkles to surprise them when they invade.

This technique can also be very useful in keeping your pets away from the garden.

But again, this method is not completely fail-safe as sensors can get triggered from slight motions causing plants to get overwatered.

Furthermore, loud music in the background, along with hanging shiny plates, wind chimes, and tin cans clatter, will likely scare away the squirrels. However, it might be a temporary solution.

6. Adding Bone Meals 

Squirrels do not like strong smells, so they steer clear of spaces with intense scents. And we have blood meals with a strong ammonia scent that seems to ward off squirrels.

At the same time, blood meals often work as a great organic fertilizer for plants.

Therefore, try using some blood meals to give squirrels a smell of discouragement.

But be careful with how much fertilizer you add to the plant soil because too much blood meal harms plants and suppresses flowering.


Squirrels garden or pot invasions could be a real nightmare putting you in a love-hate dilemma.

But do not worry! Apply the tricks and tips above to fool squirrels and keep them away from your space.

Let us know how you are handling those innocent little thieves in the comment box.

All The Best!!!

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