How to Keep Squirrels off Your Deck, Porch, Shed

While squirrels may look cute, they’re also a potential nuisance. They might chew up your patio or deck furniture, leave acorn debris scattered around, or get into your shed and make a mess. Plus, squirrels can carry a variety of diseases and parasites. As a result, if you see them wreaking havoc around your deck, porch, or patio, the only thought on your mind might be how to keep squirrels away from your home.

Several techniques can keep squirrels off your deck, porch, or shed. Using deterrents like soap, vinegar, or peppermint often works well. Sprinklers can scare them away from the area, and you can use screens to protect porches and patios.

However, the options above only scratch the surface of what you can do. If you need to figure out how to keep squirrels away from your deck, porch, or shed, here’s what you need to know.

How to Keep Squirrels off Deck

How to Keep Squirrels Away From Your Deck, Porch, Shed

1. Remove Food and Water Sources

First and foremost, never feed squirrels directly. If you begin feeding them, you encourage them to come near your home. Plus, it can reduce their fear of the people living in your house, and that can increase the odds of contact, which is dangerous.

But even if you don’t feed the squirrels on purpose, you want to make sure that there aren’t any other convenient food sources. Don’t store pet food outside or leave any in outdoor dishes. Pick up acorns in your yard, and clean up any food spills if they happen.

In most cases, you’ll also want to remove bird feeders, particularly those near your deck, porch, or shed. Birdseed is a viable food source for squirrels, and even squirrel-proof birdfeeders can spill seeds onto the ground that squirrels will then eat. By removing them, you eliminate a food source.

When it comes to water, you want to remove it too. Besides leaving pet water dishes filled up outside, consider taking out any birdbaths. Also, prevent access to pods with fencing, and pour out any rainwater that gathers in containers or on surfaces.

2. Get Animal-Proof Trash Cans

ENCASED Trash Can Lock for Animals/Raccoons, Bungee Cord Heavy Duty Large Outdoor Garbage Lid Lock ((Does NOT Include Trash Can))Squirrels aren’t beyond diving into a trash can if they believe it could lead to a meal. Plus, they may chew through a trashcan if they can’t open the lid. Squirrels have incredibly strong, sharp teeth, so a flimsy trash can is usually easy to get through.

By going with an animal-proof trash can for your outdoor garbage cans, you get one of the most secure lids available. These garbage cans are usually heavy-duty, making them harder to chew through.

The tight lid with a good seal can also prevent odor from emanating from the trash can. As a result, squirrels may not know that a potential food source is inside.

3. Eliminate Nesting Sites and Materials

One thing that keeps squirrels on a property is viable nesting sites and nearby materials. By removing those from your property, squirrels may not find a safe place to turn into their home. In turn, they may choose to relocate to a more habitable area.

Begin by cleaning up any landscaping debris around your property. After that, make sure that bushes or shrubs don’t have foliage very close to the ground. Creating a gap makes the space less secure, making it less likely that a squirrel will nest underneath.

Also, restrict access to the space beneath your deck, patio, or shed. Often, those areas are well-protected against predators, making them appealing nesting sites. By closing up gaps that function as access, squirrels won’t be able to turn those areas into a home.

Similarly, make sure your chimney interior isn’t accessible. Squirrels are adept climbers who may get into your chimney if it isn’t blocked. Install a durable chimney cap to prevent that from happening.

4. Soap

Dr. Squatch Men's Natural Bar Soap from Moisturizing Soap Made from Natural Oils - Cold Process with No Harsh Chemicals - Exfoliating Soap - Summer Citrus, Birchwood Breeze, Cool Fresh Aloe (3 Pack)When you need to keep squirrels away, soap can serve as a deterrent. Most people recommend Irish Spring due to its strong scent.

Take a bar of Irish Spring and grate it. Then, you can sprinkle the soap in places where you don’t want squirrels to hang out. You can cube the bar and place the cubes in cheesecloth bags to hang around your property.

Generally, this option works as long as the smell of the soap is detectable. As a result, you may need to replace it after the scent dissipates. Additionally, the soap will start to wash away in the rain, so be mindful if you want to use it near a food garden.

5. Vinegar

VinegarVinegar has a pungent odor that many animals find unpleasant, including squirrels. As a result, you can make a vinegar spray and apply it to various parts of your property as a deterrent.

With vinegar, you will need to reapply regularly, especially after it rains. Additionally, avoid spraying vinegar on plants or your lawn, as it can damage or kill them. Also, be aware that it may bother other wildlife and pets.

When it comes to the type of vinegar, many people recommend apple cider vinegar. However, distilled white vinegar may also work well, so feel free to use that if it’s more readily available.

6. Peppermint

Horbäach Peppermint Essential Oil | .51 fl oz (15mL) | for Massage, Bath & DiffuserPeppermint oil is a scent-based deterrent that works for various animals and pests, including many types of insects. You can make a spray by filling a spray bottle with water, adding 10 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil, and a few drops of dish soap. Shake the bottle to combine, then liberally spray your surfaces.

Overall, peppermint oil is generally safe to use around most people. However, it’s not great if you have pets.

Peppermint oil can irritate the respiratory systems of cats and dogs since it’s toxic to them. As a result, if you have pets, choose another method or only use peppermint oil in areas they don’t visit.

7. Cayenne Pepper

McCormick Culinary Ground Cayenne Pepper, 14 oz - One 14 Ounce Container of Cayenne Pepper Powder, Ideal for Rubs, Marinades, Sauces, Meats and MoreCayenne pepper is an effective deterrent due to the capsaicin, which makes peppers spicy. Capsaicin is functionally an irritant, bothering nasal patches and the skin.

With cayenne pepper, you can use it one of two ways. First, you can sprinkle significant quantities in spots you want squirrels to avoid, such as potential nesting sites. Second, you can make a spray and apply it to other areas.

When using cayenne pepper, you will need to reapply regularly, particularly after any rain. Additionally, capsaicin irritates people, pets, and other wildlife. Make sure not to use it on surfaces people or pets may touch as a precaution.

8. Garlic

Garlic has an incredibly strong odor that many animals dislike, including squirrels. However, it’s a safe option to use around people and pets, though pets may also find the smell unpleasant.

With garlic, you can use it in several ways. Placing crushed cloves or minced garlic in spots squirrels may try to nest works well. Otherwise, mixing minced garlic and water in a spray bottle lets you create a spray.

Often, the spray is handy for vertical surfaces. Just make sure to reapply it regularly, especially after any rain.

9. Sprinklers

Havahart 5277 Critter Ridder Motion Activated Animal Repellent and Sprinkler - Repel Cats, Dogs, Chipmunks, Groundhogs, Squirrels, Skunks, Deer, and MoreUsing sprinklers in your yard can keep squirrels away. Most squirrels don’t want to run through the falling water if it’s not necessary, so they’ll avoid an area if the sprinklers are on and other places are dry.

While you can use yard sprinklers, that may put you at risk of oversaturating your yard and running up your water bill. Consider using motion-activated sprinklers instead. Along with spraying water, the fact that they turn on only when the squirrel gets close startles the squirrel. Since it may believe it’s in danger, it can scare them away.

10. Trim Branches

Branches over your deck, patio, or porch create a path for squirrels to follow. By trimming any that lead onto those parts of your property and your roof, you’re making it harder for them to reach the various areas.

Generally, it’s best to trim branches during the winter when the tree is dormant. Plus, if the leaves fell off in the fall, waiting until winter gives you better visibility, as leaves can obstruct your view.

11. Ultrasonic Repellers

Phosooy Ultrasonic Animal Repeller, IP44 Waterproof Solar Powered Rodent Repeller with PIR Motion, Repel Dogs, Cat, Squirrels, Raccoon, Rabbit, Skunks, Wild Boars OutdoorUltrasonic repellers are sound-based deterrent devices that emit high-frequency sound that’s not detectable by people but audible to many animals. Squirrels can find the noise intolerable, causing them to leave the area.

Most ultrasonic repellers are small devices that plug into wall outlets. However, there are also battery-operated and rechargeable versions. The battery and rechargeable options are more portable, so they’re a better choice if there isn’t an outlet near your target area.

One issue with ultrasonic repellers is that the noise is audible to pets and other wildlife. As a result, it may cause discomfort to any pets you own, and they cannot leave the area. Similarly, if there is specific wildlife you enjoy having around, it may deter them from coming to your property.

12. Predator Decoys

Hausse 2 Pack Bird Scarecrow Fake Owl Decoy Sculpture, Rotating Head Plastic Owl Bird Deterrents, 10.6 Inch Height Nature Enemy Horned Pest Repellent for Outdoor Garden YardSometimes, predator decoys may keep skittish squirrels away from your property. At a glance, the decoy may look like a real threat, effectively scaring the squirrels and causing them to leave.

The most popular predator decoy for squirrels is an oil. Just be aware that squirrels are intelligent and may notice if the decoy remains stationary for long periods. As a result, it’s best to relocate the decoy on occasion to promote a sense of realism.

13. Predator Scents

American Heritage Industries 16 oz Wolf Urine- Protect Your Garden with Real Predator UrinePredator scents are commercial products that allow you to apply odors typically left by predators, such as the smell of their urine. For squirrels, bobcat, coyote, or fox urine may work well, as those predators may consider squirrels a tasty meal.

When using predator scents, read the application instructions carefully and follow them closely to get the best effect. Additionally, be aware that the odor is unpleasant to people, so limit the use of these scents in areas where they won’t impact your enjoyment of your yard.

It’s also critical to note that predator scents are detectable by essentially any animal. They may deter other wildlife from coming to your property. Additionally, they may bother pets.

Finally, when choosing a scent, focus on a predator that naturally resides in your area. That increases the likelihood that the squirrels will recognize the odor and associate it with a threat, making it more effective.

14. Screens

Using screens or netting to close off spaces can keep squirrels away from those areas. Generally, this option works best for covered decks, porches, or patios and small gaps under sheds. You can connect the screen or net to the ground and attach it to the structure at the top, creating an effective barrier.

When choosing screen or netting, you need to ensure that the openings are too small for a squirrel to squeeze through. Additionally, it’s wise to select a material that they can’t chew through easily. Otherwise, they may work their way inside if there’s something enticing enough on your deck, porch, patio or under your shed.

15. Cats or Dogs

While it’s not wise to get a cat or dog solely to deter squirrels, if you have a pet that goes outside, it may scare squirrels away. Both cats and dogs may chase squirrels. Since they’re predators, that leaves the squirrel feeling that it’s in danger, causing them to go.

Plus, outdoor cats and dogs leave predator odors around your property. In some cases, those scents are enough to deter squirrels from hanging around or nesting in the area.

16. Commercial Repellents

Commercial squirrel repellents are typically spray-on or granule products that function as deterrents. Some versions are all-natural, relying on essential oils or similar materials with scents that squirrels dislike. Others are chemical-based, but they also rely on odor to deter squirrels from coming into an area.

When you’re considering commercial repellents, make sure to read any safety information. Some may pose a risk to other wildlife or pets, as well as people.

Generally, if you have small children in your home, it’s better to avoid anything with risky chemicals. The same is true if you have pets that spend time outdoors. Accidental contact can occur, so focus on safe options based on how your yard is used and who or what moves through your yard.

What Attracts Squirrels to Your Deck, Patio, or Shed?

What Attracts Squirrels to Deck

Generally, squirrels are attracted to an area because it meets one of three basic needs: providing access to food, water, or shelter. If your property makes one of those available, you may see some squirrels. If it offers all three, your odds of seeing squirrels around are incredibly high.

Water sources can include any standing or running water. Birdbaths, puddles, dripping faucets, and pet dishes all qualify.

When it comes to food, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables bring in squirrels the most. However, some squirrels may be attracted to other potential foods, including pet foods and foods people tend to eat.

For nests, squirrels favor spots that are safe from predators, so spaces under sheds, decks, or porches may attract them. Additionally, cavities in trees are attractive options. As for the materials, twigs, leaves, moss, bark, or other matter, they can compress can work, so squirrels will favor properties where those materials are readily available.

Do Mothballs Keep Squirrels Away?

Enoz Para Moth Balls, Kills Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles, No Clinging Odor, 4 Oz (Pack of 4)Mothballs are commonly recommended to deter wildlife from coming onto a property. Primarily, that’s because mothballs have a strong odor.

However, using mothballs is dangerous. Mothballs are toxic to people, pets, and wildlife. Ingesting even a single mothball can potentially kill people and animals, particularly small children or animals.

Plus, mothballs are bad for the environment. The active ingredient can harm water supplies and soil, contributing to air pollution.

Due to the various risks, it’s typically best to use a safer alternative to deter squirrels. Fortunately, plenty of scent-based options are available that aren’t known for causing that type of harm.

What Smells Do Squirrels Hate?

Squirrels dislike a variety of scents. Peppermint is an option that works well for various pests and many types of wildlife, including squirrels. Plus, it’s safe to use around people, though it may be problematic if you have pets.

Vinegar is another safe option for people and pets, though pets may find the odor unpleasant, too. Spicy peppers and garlic are also viable options, as they have pungent odors. Peppers also contain capsaicin, which serves as an irritant.

What Is the Best Homemade Squirrel Repellent

Combining water, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and garlic is a solid option if you want to make a homemade squirrel repellent. Start with a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. Then, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of minced garlic. Top it off with a few drops of liquid dish soap and shake to combine.

Another solid choice is a peppermint oil spray. Fill a spray bottle with water and add 10 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil. Put in a few drops of liquid dish soap, shake to combine, and it’s ready to use.

What Is the Best Way to Keep Squirrels Away?

Generally, the best way to keep squirrels off your deck, porch, or shed is to use a combination of deterrents. Choose a scent-based option like vinegar, cayenne pepper, or peppermint, and mix that with sprinklers, predator decoys, or other scare-based approaches. Also, consider screening areas to create a physical barrier.

Did you learn everything you wanted to learn about keeping squirrels away? If so, let us know in the comments below. Also, if you know someone trying to figure out how to keep squirrels off their deck, porch, or shed, please share the article.

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