Bunny rabbits and squirrels are adorable until they unleash Armageddon on your garden. Then they transform into twitchy, furry demons from hell. However, holy water, silver crosses, and Latin babbling will not keep pests away from your garden. Wooden stakes won’t work either, unless they’re holding up wire fencing or pinning down snares.
Here’s what you can do to keep squirrels, rabbits, and other fuzzy creatures out of your yard. You don’t even have to contact a priest.
How to Keep Rabbits and Squirrels Out of Your Garden
How To Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden
Furry-tailed tree rats (also known as ratty-tailed rats) will eat anything that comes within reach of their filthy little paws. Squash, strawberries, melons, tree fruit, and, of course, seed-bearing sunflowers are favorites.
Squirrels have sharp claws, hind feet that are pointed in the wrong direction (that’s some top-level evil right there), and bushy tails that help them keep their balance as they skitter at gravity-defying angles, facing upwards, down, or completely inverted. The Eastern squirrel can launch themselves four feet straight up in the air and laterally leap nine feet with no altitude drop, according to the online wildlife guide Squirrels in the Attic.
Witnessing this kind of behavior, according to any Japanese horror movie adaptation, means you’ll die a horrible death within 24 hours. Don’t worry, that’s only partially true. Rabies can kill you in weeks.
If your garden is on the radar of the local squirrels, it’s pretty much doomed for eternity unless you take serious precautions. Making your property less appealing to squirrels so they don’t claim it as their territory or nesting grounds is the best strategy. A wasteland surrounded by steel sheet metal is the ultimate squirrel-proof garden. You want to create a lush, fruitful Eden. Here’s how to reach an agreement. Some of these strategies are extreme, but we’re going to throw them out there anyway. Many of these also work on other rodents and rabbits.
- Request that your neighbors trim trees that overhang your fenceline.
- Plant trees well away from wooden fences, rooflines, and trees beyond your property line.
- Install squirrel-proof barriers above and below your bird feeders. Spinny material is effective as well as entertaining.
- Fill your bird feeders with cayenne pepper flakes. Birds are unaffected, but rodents are.
- Repellent scents will not get rid of established squirrels, but they may help keep new squirrels away.
- Paint your plants with the hottest, hell-fire pepper sauce you can find (but don’t scratch your nasty bits afterwards).
- Cover any possible access points to your home, outbuildings, and drainage pipes with hardware cloth.
- Stack firewood to minimize gaps. As a hail-mary, stuff mothballs or rags soaked in repellents here.
- Fill in any holes you find in your yard as soon as you find them. Examine the area around the pavers and foundations.
- Fill in tree cavities.
- Set traps in areas where you’ve noticed squirrels entering your property.
- Plant peppermint and rue in pots around your garden. It may be more effective against smaller rodents, but it’s worth a shot IF you crush a few leaves every day.
- Deep mulch should be applied around vulnerable plants, leaving 1″ to 2″ around stems to prevent rot. Squirrels have to work harder to bury their food, and you can remove their caches more easily.
- Try commercial deterrent sprays. They’re only moderately effective, but as part of a larger strategy, they might help keep the little f***ers at bay.
- Get a dog who enjoys chasing animals. Natural squirrel killers include rat terriers, Jack Russell terriers, and dachshunds. But be prepared for a LOT of digging damage and ridicule from friends for having “fake dogs.” Rottweilers are a bit excessive, but they do protect items buried in the ground.
- The extension program at the University of Georgia recommends placing 2″chicken wire over containers and raised beds.
- Ground squirrels, rats, and rabbits will be deterred by digging a few inches (or more) into the ground with these simple DIY 1″ chicken wire tubes. Square cages with tops (or tented chicken wire cloches) are preferable for tree-dwelling species and deer.
- In a similar vein, use inverted wire wastebaskets, scour craft stores for decorative cloches, or make your own out of chicken wire. Store-bought wire cloches will eat into your liquor budget.
Female squirrels typically have their kits in early spring, and they frequently give birth again in late summer. Time your squirrel-proofing to remove nests before they become occupied. On many levels, trapping baby squirrels inside nesting cavities is unpleasant.
How To Get Rabbit Out of Your Radishes and Roses
“If we can eats it, bunnies wants it.” And then some; in their recent article, “Garden Plants That Rabbits Love to Eat,” The Spruce has a list of plant species those furry little Sméagols covet. If your favorites are in danger, you should take precautions to protect them.
Return to the squirrel section if you skipped it! The majority of those anti-critter suggestions may also be effective against long-eared thieves, rats, mice, outdoor cats, and possibly pocket gophers.
Plant Deterrents That May Be Suitable for Rabbits:
Deer are far more picky than rabbits, so don’t rely on deer-resistant plants for landscaping if you live in an area where rabbits are plentiful.
- Onion plants
- Chive plants
- Rue plants
- Cayenne pepper flakes
- Crushed or powdered garlic
- Garlic plants (particularly effective on Bunnicula)
- Ornamental alliums
- Vinca minor plants
- Marigold plants
- Russian sage plants
These aren’t necessarily deterrents (except for peppermint, which most animals dislike), but rabbits generally avoid most mint family herbs.
These herbs and spices include rosemary, lavender, basil, and oregano. Plant these as borders around your ornamental and vegetable beds, and they may miss the sinfully good stuff further in.