6 Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

6 Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants

Are you fed up with torn-up plants, missing crops, and dirt strewn across your patio or yard by those furry rodents? Squirrels may be cute and cuddly-looking creatures, but they can also be pesky vermin when it comes to your garden.

Without the proper precautions, your potted herbs and flowers could become susceptible to a few disturbances by squirrels in the off-season. Take a look at some of these expert methods of keeping squirrels from destroying your beloved potted plants.

Recognizing Squirrel Damage

Cute small rodent animal sitting in flower pot and eating cracked nut. Feeding red squirrel on balcony.
Image credits: stock_wichel via Shutterstock

During the late summer and early fall, you’ll often find squirrels digging their way through flower pots to bury their stashes of acorns and nuts for the coming winter. These nut caches are buried a few inches into your container to keep them tightly stored over the colder months. When this happens, it’s not unlikely that a squirrel may end up digging up a few bulbs you planted or chew on some petals or leaves.

Noticing that your crops have been damaged or gone missing is a key indicator that squirrels have begun tampering with your garden. Once your fruits and vegetables have started ripening, squirrels may take that as an invitation to feast on your home-grown produce.

Tousled soil, uprooted plants, and quick-to-empty birdfeeders are tell-tale signs that it’s time to find ways to ward off those fuzzy rodents.

How to Prevent Squirrels From Digging Into Your Plants

Although having wildlife in your yard is a wonderful thing, squirrels can do quite a bit of damage to your plants. Fortunately, there’s no reason you should have to succumb to measly-looking plants next spring. Here are some of the best ways to keep your plants safe and looking vibrant all season long.

1. Use a Natural Repellent

chili peppers in wicker basket
Image credits: JillWellington via Pixabay

A common yet worthwhile way to repel squirrels from your garden is to mix something into the soil that they find displeasing. Natural squirrel repellents often contain capsaicin, the chemical compound that makes chili peppers spicy.

Other things that may deter squirrels include vinegar, garlic, onion, and peppermint oil. Make your plants unattractive to squirrels by mixing two or more of these ingredients to sprinkle into your potting soil.

2. Add a Layer of Rocks or Mulch

potted plants with rocks
Image credits: Scott Webb via Pixabay

Putting a layer of rocks over your potting soil may prevent squirrels from being able to dig through the dirt underneath. This method works if you leave enough room for water to flow through easily.

However, be wary during the summer months — rocks can sometimes take in excessive heat and damage your plants. If this becomes an issue, consider using a thick layer of organic mulch to pile on top of your soil to create a barrier that keeps squirrels away and can provide a healthy addition to your soil’s nutrient content as it breaks down.

3. Cover Potted Plants With Mesh or Fabric

Fine white mesh seen over hoops covering lettuce plants protecting against insects.
Image credits: Joe Kuis via Shutterstock

If you don’t mind sacrificing the open aesthetic of your garden, layering a barricade of mesh or fabric over the top of your potted plants can keep squirrels from getting too close in the first place.

Don’t have any mesh or fabric handy? Fishing nets can also work fine as a physical barrier around the plant. Similarly, laying chicken wire over the top of your plants or in your containers can also effectively manage your rodent problem.

Keep your plants safe with a simple cover.

4. Ward them off with shiny objects

forks and spoons on wooden table
Image credits: [Rachel Claire] via [Pexels]
Squirrels aren’t too fond of shiny things. So, hanging things like old CDs, pinwheels, aluminum pans, or even silverware can reflect in the sun and scare off those unwanted pests.

However, remember that this might also deter other friendly animals from entering your garden, especially birds. If you don’t mind forgoing your daily birdwatching activities, then continue to find any shiny knickknacks around the house to put up around your potted plants.

5. Grow Squirrel-Repelling Plants

marigold plants
Image credits: MarekKampka via Pixabay

It may seem counter-productive to deter squirrels away from your plants by growing more plants but it isn’t! Certain plants are distasteful to squirrels, which means planting them strategically around your present flowers and vegetables could serve as natural pest control.

A few squirrel-repelling plants include daffodils, alliums, geraniums, marigolds, and peppermint. Luckily, these hard-working plants can add color and vibrancy to your garden!

6. Clean Up Your Yard

Four acorns sit on a person's hand
Image credits: Alexander Klarmann via Unsplash

If you have trees in your garden, your yard may be littered with nuts and acorns. This is the perfect opportunity for squirrels to scavenge for food and explore what else may be lying around. In other words, your potted plants are an ample target for feasting!

Take the time to pick up any nuts or acorns that have fallen into your yard. Then, transfer them to a location far from your potted plants. If this becomes too much work, it may be time to consider growing or selecting different types of trees.

No More Furry Critters!

Do you have squirrels raiding your garden every year? Using a variety of these easy and affordable techniques will help keep squirrels out of your potted plants. 

Got any other tips and tricks to put off squirrels from your precious potted plants? Leave a comment below!