While squirrels may look cute and cuddly, they can cause damage in quite a few ways when it comes to the garden, including digging up plants and crops. After planting spring tulips and strawberries, I didn’t think squirrels would be an issue as I hadn’t seen them in my garden before, until I came down one morning to find lots of soil on the grass and nuts buried deep into my plants.
While I don’t mind squirrels in my garden, I do mind them digging up plants which I have spent hours planting in pots and containers.
I have a variety of plants and crops in the garden which were being ruined by squirrels, including tulips, roses, a blueberry bush as well as young strawberries.
Squirrels are very fond of some bulbs as they are simply tasty to them, but in my garden, they were using the soil to hide nuts.
After researching a few different methods and looking through my kitchen cupboards to see if I already had anything I could use, I pulled out coffee grounds from the back of my cupboard.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world for humans, but for squirrels, they absolutely detest the scent of it.
Squirrels simply don’t like the smell of coffee, meaning they should stay away from where it is scattered in the garden, and it doesn’t harm them in any single way.
What’s more, plants including tulips and roses can actually benefit from being fertilised with coffee grounds as they contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
I quickly patted the soil in my pots back into place and added some fresh soil onto the top because some had ended up on the grass and decking.
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I then sprinkled a light dusting of coffee grounds onto every plant in the garden, making sure there was an even layer.
Any cheap coffee grounds will work the same, but I used what I had in the cupboard, which was Nescafe’s Gold Blend, which cost me £3.65.
After sprinkling all of my plants, I only used a quarter of the coffee grounds, meaning each time I sprinkle them onto the soil, it will cost around 90p.
This is significantly cheaper than buying object deterrents or installing motion-detector water sprays which could harm the animal.
It is important not to fertilise plants too often with coffee grounds as it can lower the pH of the soil into the acidic range in the long run.
Gardeners should also note that coffee grounds will not be as effective if it rains, as they will dissolve into the soil and overtime, the scent will disappear.
After observing the plants for a couple of days, the soil had been left untouched and although I still saw the odd squirrel in my garden, they were going nowhere near my plants.
Instead, they were heading for the bird seed which had dropped from my bird feeder, which I didn’t mind as they were not burying it in my plants.
I will definitely be using this hack heading into the summer months when squirrels tend to be more active.
Squirrels also detest the scent of other foods including hot peppers, according to a pest control expert. Jordan Foster from Fantastic Pest Control explained: “You can keep squirrels out of gardens with humane methods, including hot peppers.
“Squirrels hate the taste and smell of peppers. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper, hot sauce or chilli powder flakes on the soil to repel squirrels.
“Alternatively, grow hot peppers – they won’t come close to them.” It may also be worth companion planting, planting a shrub or plant which squirrels detest near one they would love.
Flowers can also be planted in the garden to keep the pests away, including containers if you’re short on space or on the border.
The pest expert said: “Daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths, and marigolds are allium plants that keep squirrels away naturally. Avoid planting tulips and crocuses because they attract the animals.”
For those with small outdoor spaces, it may be worth making a “DIY repellent” using apple cider vinegar.
Jordan added: “Combine apple cider vinegar with peppermint oil or cayenne pepper. Then spray it on your plants or wherever you want squirrels to smell it.”
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