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Keep Squirrels from Digging Up Plants [Top Approved Hacks]

Sneaky squirrels remain active all day, scavenging for your garden produce. Hence, to keep squirrels from digging up plants, you must be a step ahead of them.

To keep squirrels from digging up plants and bulbs, grow squirrel-repelling plants, conceal or guard the bulbs using mulches and chicken wires, add gravel to the garden, place food baits for distraction, situate scarecrows or use loud sounds, or employ pungent-smelling bone meals.

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

So, learn how to keep squirrels from digging and protect your plants or bulbs.

Why do Squirrels Dig Up Plants?

A squirrel is a sneaky rodent that will wreak havoc on your garden to bank its food.

Generally, squirrels dig up loose soil around the potted or garden plant to hide their food and use it later in winter.

Besides digging up plants for food cache, squirrels also love to eat protein-rich plant bulbs of Tulips, Crocuses, Lily, Dahlia, etc.

However, squirrels hate some plant bulbs, such as Onions, Garlic, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Alliums, etc.

How to Identify Squirrel Damage?

Squirrels are sneaky invaders but are not good enough to hide the evidence, as you can easily observe from disarrayed plants or demolished soil with holes around it.

Generally, squirrels dug holes are about 1-2 inches deep and almost 2-4 inches in diameter. And you can notice no messed-up soil around the hole.
Image illustrates signs of squirrel damage
Squirrels may look cute and innocent, but they can destroy a garden full of fresh produce, dig up unnecessary holes in the soil, and empty the birdfeeders.

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

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

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

Besides the garden, you can also notice their mischief on the plant pots with noticeable cracks or breakage.

How to Keep Squirrels from Digging Up Plants?

Squirrels can get under your skin by uprooting expensive plants and flowers from pots.

No worries! 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 keep squirrels from digging up bulbs.
Image represents use of metal cage for protecting plants and bulbs
Metal cages work well for protecting potted plants and bulbs from squirrels.

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

Meanwhile, another method is spraying their predators, like weasels, coyotes, and foxes’ pee, 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.

You can also spread some chili, cayenne, hot pepper, and garlic peppers around plants or bulbs, as their smell keeps squirrels away from the garden.

Likewise, you can utilize the shed furs of dogs to scare and naturally repel squirrels away.

2. Covering Bulbs

The front teeth of squirrels keep growing throughout their life, so to keep their teeth short, they gnaw hard nuts and destroy our garden.

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

To keep squirrels from digging up bulbs, you can lay chicken wire over the planted bulbs and cover them with soil.
Image represents chicken wire to protect bulbs from squirrel-digging activity
Lay the chicken wire on the planted bulbs to protect them from squirrel heists.

This way, the squirrels will have a problem stealing bulbs, and it’s a fail-safe strategy to keep squirrels from digging.

Furthermore, you can build or buy a metallic wire cage to plant bulbs.

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

3. Adding Gravel

Squirrels prefer easy foods. So, they like loose soil in your gardens or pots to dig and get their hands on bulbs.

Interestingly, squirrels tend to avoid digging gravel.

Therefore, adding gravel to the soil when planting the bulbs or plants shall discourage squirrels.

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

4. Sacrificial Plants or Food Offering

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

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

Place a plate or bird feeder 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 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.

However, you must change the scarecrow’s position to intimidate occasionally.

Meanwhile, you can use motion-sensing water sprinklers to surprise them when they invade.
Image represents owl scarecrows fixed in a vegetable garden
Owl scarecrows can work effectively to back off squirrels, which mimic their natural predators.

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

Furthermore, loud music in the background, hanging wind chimes, and clattering tin cans will likely scare away the squirrels.

6. Adding Bone Meals 

Squirrels do not like strong smells, so they steer clear of spaces with intense scents.

So, bone meals with a strong ammonia scent that seems to ward off squirrels.
Image illustrates the methods of keeping squirrels away while planting bulbs
Bone meals or oyster shell powders can deter critters like squirrels and voles from gardens.

Alternatively, bone meals often work as an excellent organic fertilizer for plants.

But be careful because too much bone meal harms plants and suppresses flowering.

FAQs To Keep Squirrels from Digging Up Bulbs and Plants

Can coffee grounds keep squirrels from digging up plants and bulbs?

Keep squirrels from digging bulbs and other plants by bordering potted or garden plants with a one-inch layer of brewed or roasted coffee grounds. 

However, keep a distance between the coffee grounds and garden plants so that it won’t hamper the soil.

Do mothballs keep squirrels from digging up bulbs from flower pots?

The strong, pungent smell of mothballs will surely repel squirrels and secure your store of plant bulbs from the flower pots.

But you must keep your pets and children from getting near the plant pots, as mothballs are poisonous!

From Editorial Team

Squirrels garden or pot invasions could be an absolute nightmare.

But if one trick fails, you can always combine more than one to fool squirrels and keep them away from your space.

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