a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Jun, 2018

Squirrel combat gets real

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

In a recent post about our garden, I mentioned that squirrels have been digging into my containers. It’s really frustrating. It’s not like I’ve been stashing peanuts in there or anything. It’s not like those plants are EDIBLE, but they’re dug up and disturbed and don’t get a chance to grow. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Step one: research a natural squirrel repellant.

I read that they don’t like human smells so I grabbed a ball of dryer lint and liberally sprinkled it with cinnamon for an extra touch. Some people use ground chili peppers but I didn’t want to hurt the poor things.

I buried it in one of our containers. 24 hours later, I found this:

My natural squirrel repellent didn’t repel

I totally understand if you’re not sure what you’re looking at there, but it’s my ball of dryer lint, dug up and discarded in a way that I was SURE TO SEE IT. Those squirrels sure know how to play with your mind, don’t they?

So, that didn’t work. Obv. I was still reluctant to pour cayenne pepper into my flower beds but I happened to be at the grocery store when I spotted these:

Homemade squirrel repellant solutions

… they were on the “last chance” produce rack at my local Loblaws, which means they’re one step away from developing green fuzz. At 50% off, I grabbed two packages, thinking that I could bury one or two peppers in each planter. And so I did. (This is the scene before I buried the pepper, for scale.)

Homemade squirrel repellant solutions

That photo was taken before I buried the peppers, and before the huge rainshower we had the other day. I’ve been patrolling the containers and so far so good. I am hoping that the smell of the peppers will send them into spasms of worry and will cause the little varmints to redirect their energies elsewhere.  If my plan fails, I’ll have no choice but to put them all in a blender (er, the peppers, not the squirrels) and for a DIY pepper spray kind of concoction. Stay tuned!


6 Responses to "Squirrel combat gets real"

1 | Valerie

June 8th, 2018 at 1:57 pm


Last summer we had bell and hot peppers. The squirrels liked to steal the bell peppers. But I’d find hot peppers with bites taken out of them and then abandoned. I don’t think the squirrels realize they’re hot until they bite. Meaning, prepare to blend… :)

2 | Susan McIntyre

June 8th, 2018 at 6:08 pm


I have had luck sprinkling blood meal fertilizer on garden plants and areas where I don’t want the squirrels digging and nibbling things. They hate the smell of it. I do have to resprinkle after rain or every few days. But hey, it is fertilizer so I don’t mind.

3 | andrea tomkins

June 9th, 2018 at 9:35 am


I have a feeling that this experiment won’t work but I’m still hopeful!

Susan: I have heard wonderous things about blood meal. It’s next on my list.

4 | Stacey

June 10th, 2018 at 6:58 pm


Allow me to comment. Squirrels cannot be beaten. I’ve done all I can, including building my garden into a greenhouse. You cannot win. They have eaten through cables in my car and my neighbour’s across the street. They dig out every plant…no matter how high I hang them. My neighbour feeds them peanuts which I find everywhere, including in my garage and under the hood of my car.

5 | Claudette

June 11th, 2018 at 11:18 am


My younger one loves to pick up pebbles at the beach, about the size of her hand (so not the tiny ones). When she was in KG or early grades, she used to paint them. We then sprayed them with a clear gloss and placed the around the pots. The stones were big enough for the squirrels to not go dig there, but not so big they squished the plants.

We still take home some of these types of pebbles now and then, and use them all around the garden. Because all of my other trials turned into errors and uprooted plants. :)

6 | Marc

June 14th, 2018 at 10:56 am


I put crushed egg shells down in my garden, and it tends to discourage squirrels and neighbourhood cats from digging around. They don’t like the feeling of eggshells between their toes I guess!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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