Creating Squirrel Friendly Gardens: How To Welcome Squirrels In The Garden

(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

Squirrels get a bad rap. For many people, they’re a pest to be tricked, driven away, or eradicated. They can also wreak some havoc if they’re allowed to: they dig up bulbs in garden beds, steal seeds from bird feeders, and chew through electrical wiring in houses. With some creative discouragement in some places and encouragement in others though, squirrels can live harmoniously in your backyard, giving you lots of interesting wildlife activity to watch and a more natural, wild habitat around your house. Read on to learn more about creating squirrel friendly gardens.

How to Attract Squirrels to Your Garden

If they live in your area, attracting squirrels should not be a problem. Squirrels love to eat and putting out the right food is a surefire route to squirrels in the garden. If you have a bird feeder, you may already have done this without meaning to. Put out separate squirrel feeders, away from your bird feeders, so they and the birds can both eat in peace. Squirrels like sunflower seeds, and this is often what they’re looking for when they scatter your bird feed everywhere. Put out trays of sunflower seeds, unroasted peanuts, or field corn kernels for them to eat. If you want to see some acrobatics, you can buy special squirrel feeders that make squirrels swing and jump to get to their food. If you don’t want your squirrels to have to work, hang whole field corn cobs or pinecones covered in peanut butter so they dangle just above a branch, where they can sit and munch. Beyond feeding, you can encourage squirrels in the garden by leaving hollow trees or trees with nooks and crannies in the trunks: these are ideal nesting sites. If you don’t have or can’t keep these kinds of trees, hang nest boxes made of untreated wood or metal around your yard.

Making Responsible Wildlife Gardens for Squirrels

Squirrel friendly gardens are easy to achieve, but some steps are required to make sure you and the squirrels in the garden continue to live peacefully. The last thing you want to end up doing is attracting squirrels into your house. Prune away tree branches that would give them easy access to the roof, and seal off any possible openings in broken windows, masonry, or pipes. Squirrels are also known to strip the bark from trees. Keep them out of important trees by wrapping the trunks in sheet metal or installing squirrel baffles. Prune trees whose canopies are within jumping distance to keep the squirrels from getting in from above. Don’t forget the garden! If your squirrels are well fed, they are less likely to bother your garden.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.