How to Get a Squirrel Out of Your Yard

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Squirrels seem to be ever in search of food and shelter, instinctively turning to your garden, outdoor pet food, birdhouses or a shed for comfortable nooks or needed sustenance. Use one or more humane methods to get a squirrel out of your yard -- obviously they don't understand boundaries, so be patient.

Keep Them Out With Upkeep

Some of the most effective ways to keep persistent squirrels out are to maintain the property and smartly plan the landscape, explains the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

  • Keep your shed, a waterhouse, greenhouse or other outbuildings in good repair, patching holes and replacing broken windows to limit access -- squirrels can squeeze through even a golf-ball-sized hole, depending on age and species. 
  • If you plant trees, space them so that at full growth they'll be at least 10 feet apart and as far from buildings -- or prune existing ones, as needed -- to restrict the critters' ability to leap about. 
  • Place 24-inch-wide metal bands or cone-shaped aluminum flashing around tree trunks to restrict climbing.
  • Use 1-by-1-inch wire mesh or chicken wire to reinforce fencing, and deter squirrels from getting under a deck or into a garden or flowerbed. Bury the fencing a foot underground to deter digging.
  • Place bird feeders on 8- to 10-foot metal-wrapped poles, away from anything a squirrel can climb.
  • Use a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, and don't let trash pile up.
  • Cut back vines from buildings -- Tarzan has nothing on the common squirrel when it comes to their climbing skills.

Owls, Cats and Hawks, Oh My

Chase squirrels away by decorating the yard with their natural enemies -- owl, cat or hawk decoys, or people-sized scarecrows, dressed in lifelike fashion. If the fake predators are designed for this purpose, and make noise, turn their heads, or have glow-in-the-dark eyes, all the better. Position them where squirrels scavenge or nest, or wherever you'd naturally expect to see such predators:

  • At the base of trees.
  • On tree branches -- at ladder-safe height.
  • On fence posts.
  • In a flowerbed or vegetable garden.

A Motion to Remove

Anything that moves, such as a motion-activated sprinkler designed to scare off pests, is often enough to send a skittish squirrel elsewhere. You could try hanging shiny objects -- old CDs, crumpled balls of foil, metallic ribbons -- from nearby trees or the fence, using Christmas-ornament hangers, if needed.

Using Squirrel Repellent

Squirrel repellent can keep furry fiends from digging up planted seeds or bulbs, out of your garbage and fruit trees, or nesting in your attic. Typically, these come in spray or granular form; refer to the manufacturer's label, which may instruct you to apply the ready-to-use product around garbage cans or fruit trees, or directly to the soil over planted seeds or bulb, and to reapply after extreme rainfall or heavy watering.

You can also make your own repellent. Avoid toxic remedies, such as mothballs, which are toxic to humans and pets. Place rags drenched in ammonia around the areas where you see squirrels typically resting or by their nests or dens. Make small bags out of pantyhose and fill with human hair and hang around areas of the yard. Add 2 to 3 tsp. of cayenne pepper sauce in 1 quart of water and spray on plants to repel the squirrels. You can also add 1 cup of a pine-scented household disinfectant into 1 gallon of water, place in a sprayer and spray the areas where squirrels frequent. Reapplication is necessary after rain.

If You Can't Deter Them ...

If you've unsuccessfully exhausted your squirrel-ridding efforts, short of hiring a wildlife removal specialist, it may be time to accept them, but at a distance -- they're wild and can bite, after all. Create a squirrel-friendly area, such as in a far, seldom-used corner of your backyard; doing so, in turn, can keep them out of your main outdoor spaces. Equip the squirrel area with woodland debris for nest building, and a fruit or nut tree that's native to your area and will satisfy their hunger.

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