Pest Problems

How to Stop Squirrels from Digging up the Lawn

As an owner of a house with a yard, rodents are going to be interested in your property. Mice and rats are pests and there are various ways to get rid of them and also keep them out for good. Squirrels, however, are wildlife. The rules about handling squirrels are slightly different.

You may find this information useful if:

  • Your garden has been targeted by squirrels;
  • You’re looking for signs of squirrel presence;
  • You’re trying to prevent them from digging up your lawn.

In this article, the Fantastic Services team will explain how to prevent squirrels from digging up the lawn you’ve been taking care of so meticulously.

Why do squirrels dig holes?

Squirrels spend most of their lives foraging for food. They eat all kinds of nuts and seeds and a lot of those are found on trees and on the ground. They don’t use the holes for nests, as that would expose them to predators. However, a lot of these holes are used for food storage.

Our urbanised environment has presented squirrels with more things to look out for, like passing cars but also more sources of food. Even if you don’t have a food garden in your yard, the water from your lawn sprinklers and fallen fruit under the nearby tree would easily attract them to your home.

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How do you know your lawn is targeted by squirrels?

Lots of animals dig holes in the ground. It’s easy to know which one was made by the neighbourhood dogs or cats, mostly because they would often come back and you may spot them doing it. Squirrels, however, can be very stealthy. If you don’t happen to catch one in the act, you’ll have to identify the redecorating they’ve made in your yard.

Here is how to identify squirrel holes in the garden:

  • Squirrel holes are usually 5 cm in diameter and quite shallow.
  • There’s usually no soil surrounding the squirrel’s hole.
  • There might be some food inside, stored for the cold winter.
  • Still, there are a few species of squirrels that dig a lot deeper and even create a tunnel system in the soil.
  • These squirrels often use the tunnel system as a safe nesting space.

Visit the main website for more information about squirrel control specialists in your area.

How to stop the squirrels from digging up the lawn

We’ve learned so far that squirrels dig holes in search of food and in order to store food. The best way to discourage squirrels from targeting your yard is to convince them that your yard is hostile.

Killing a squirrel might be a problem because the red squirrel is an endangered species and you might get a fine if found out. The grey squirrel, on the other hand, is invasive and it is legal to use more extreme measures to get rid of it. Regardless, it may be simpler to just try and prevent the squirrels from coming back.

1. Don’t feed them!

Let’s face it, squirrels are adorable and many would fall into the trap of giving them food once or twice. Soon, they will learn to come to you for their daily snack and that’s bad for both you and the squirrel. They’re still wild animals and shouldn’t forget how to live on their own.

2. Keep the rubbish bins sealed

Outdoor waste can easily attract squirrels among other scavenging wildlife. Make sure you keep outside rubbish bins tightly closed.

3. Move dog and cat food inside

Pet food, in general, has a heavy aroma and attracts squirrels, raccoons, gophers and many other animals that live by gathering food. If you have bird feeders, it is also a good idea to move them or remove them altogether as they can be attractive for squirrels, too.

4. Lay wire mesh over the soil

It’s a good idea if you have a food or flower garden. The wire can be wide enough for the plants to grow, but it would present difficulty for the squirrel to dig a hole. However, it may not be as convenient to use it over a lawn, especially if kids want to play on it.

5. Create the feeling of a natural enemy’s presence

Owls eat squirrels and squirrels are afraid of owls. You can place realistic-looking plastic owls around your property on high surfaces to try and get rid of the squirrels. Foxes are also natural enemies of these rodents. You can spray around the yard with a scent that imitates fox or wolf urine to scare the squirrels away. Many other animals keep away from the scent so you might be chasing away wild rabbits too.

6. Get an outside dog

A guard dog shouldn’t be chained to a dog house, it should roam around free. And bear in mind that not just any dog would work. While some dogs would chase the squirrel, others would only play with it, and some would even slow down if they get too close, in order to keep the fun going.

Of course, chasing should be most successful, but even just the size and playfulness could be enough to keep the squirrels away.

7. Eliminate access to the inside of the house

It’s a good idea to also make sure that the squirrels aren’t attracted to your home instead. If you keep your attic windows open, they might be able to get inside your house by jumping from high branches. To avoid this, keep your attic windows shut.

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Squirrel deterrent methods that rarely work

You can find many different solutions online that seem to offer similar information. Some of them will not help you. Here is what we’re talking about:

  • Using certain plants to deter squirrels – You’ve probably seen suggestions for making homemade peppermint sprays or planting daffodils and others. These have been said to help not just against squirrels, but also against cockroaches, mice, rats, and many other pests. But the truth is, the scent of a flower is almost never enough to deter any animal. There are certain exceptions. For example, lavender is highly effective in deterring moths. But in most other cases, we advise not to rely solely on the scent of a flower to deter any pest.
  • Installing motion-activated sprinklers – When the squirrel gets in your yard, a motion-activated sprinkler will chase it away. Not exactly. While it might chase away other animals, squirrels are highly athletic and able to make sharp turns. They can easily avoid a sprinkler or any other motion-activated installation that makes the same periodic movement. They’ll get accustomed to it and make a burrow anyway.

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The dangers of squirrel infestation

Since squirrels are rodents, many people assume they carry diseases that can transmit to people, just like rats and mice. But, that’s not true. In fact, squirrels are good environmental indicators. If public health specialists observe a sick squirrel population, they’ll set out to look for hazardous concentrations of industrial waste in the vicinity.

So, unless you are bitten by a squirrel or got into direct contact with squirrel excrement, there’s little need to worry about disease.

However, the damage they do on lawns can be quite troublesome. On one hand, the holes will disrupt the whole landscape of the yard. The tunnel system will damage the soil, so if you happen to grow something, it will harm the plants. That is if they weren’t already eaten. Squirrels also tend to chew through cables responsible for lighting and other outdoor electrical utilities.

And if they abandon their burrows, the latter might attract other pests to move in there, like gophers and moles. If this happens, the tunnel system would enlarge and you’ll get even more unsightly lumps of soil on your lawn, among other problems.

How to distinguish burrowing squirrels from moles and gophers

A few species of squirrels make tunnel systems in the soil, just like moles and gophers. The main difference is the size of their little living project. Gophers and moles are able to dig tunnels up to 600 square metres. They also cause soft spots in the lawn. Squirrel tunnels are up to 12 square metres. All three of these pests would leave troublesome mounds at the entrance of their tunnel system.

Another way to find out the culprit behind the holes is if your yard has a food garden. Contrary to some belief, squirrels rarely attack plants, since their diet is mostly nuts and seeds. Of course, it doesn’t mean that a squirrel won’t eat fruit if there isn’t another option. But, vegetables are not their first choice, unlike moles and gophers.

Also, keep watch as to when you see the damage occurring. Squirrels (and moles) are diurnal, which means they’re active during the day. While gophers are nocturnal.

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  • Squirrels dig holes mostly to use as food storage.
  • Squirrel holes are usually shallow, with no soil surrounding the entrance.
  • Some squirrel species dig tunnels, similar to gophers and moles.
  • They can cause serious damage to your lawn.
  • The best way to deal with squirrels is prevention.

Having troubles with squirrels in your garden? Give those tips a try and share your experience in the comments.

Image source: Paul Reeves Photography /

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