Squirrels are pretty cute little animals, right? They have fluffy tails, they’re tiny in size, and they can add a touch of nature with any appearance.
As with most small rodents, they can make for pretty cute sights from far away, but you definitely don’t want them on your property.
Squirrels, like other small rodents, can leave their droppings all over the place, make a mess of garage areas, and can even chew on the wood of a deck if it is made of such material.
This isn’t even factoring in that they can carry a lot of parasites and diseases that no one wants around their home or pets.
Like raccoons (another unwanted pest), squirrels can eat just about anything. They can also get into a lot of different areas because they are small and can fit into tight spaces.
When it comes to finding food, animals will do whatever they can to get to it. They prefer the easiest and safest path but will do what they can to eat.
Thankfully, squirrels are much easier to get rid of than raccoons. The latter can be particularly strong-willed when it comes to getting to food sources.
There are plenty of options for getting rid of squirrels and keeping them from living near or doing damage to your deck.
1 – Do Not Feed the Squirrels
Squirrels are like just about any other animal: they will go wherever the food is.
Sure, it might be cute to see these fuzzy little critters amble into your yard and nibble adorably on small pieces of food. But that is the beginning of a very annoying process.
If you are trying to keep squirrels away from your deck, start by making sure there isn’t a food source near your deck. That means even having an open bird feeder.
There are options that are specifically built to keep annoying pests like squirrels out, so those are okay to keep outside.
Make sure to store any pet food in your home as well. Any kind of food source that is readily available to squirrels, they will look to take advantage of.
Cutting off their food source means they will likely look to set up shop elsewhere.
2 – Secure Your Trash
Speaking of food sources, your garbage cans can make for a consistent source of food to a lot of critters. Raccoons, mice, rats, and a whole lot of insects find your trash cans to be a buffet of readily available treats.
If you are storing your trash can outdoors, be certain that you have an animal-proof can.
Squirrels have very strong, sharp teeth and have been known to chew through garbage cans before. When storing garbage cans outside, go with the heavy-duty kind.
The sturdier trash cans also tend to have a tighter seal. Animals won’t want to put in a lot of effort to get to the trash, meaning they will eventually leave the area and look for a new source of food.
3 – Make it Less Homey
While food is the most important thing for animals, a close second is if they can find a reliable source of shelter. One of the reasons that they may be attracted to spaces such as decks is because it offers shelter from the elements and protection from predators.
They look to these spaces to build their nests. They are especially attracted to areas that have a lot of debris – leaves, shrubbery, and so on – that they can use to effectively build their nests.
When there are no things such as decks around, they will take bushes, trees, and any other type of covering that offers protection for them and their young.
Keep your yard clean and free of debris. The less options they have for shelter, the more likely they are to move on to something else.
Yard cleaning may be a tedious task, but it will help to keep critters from building their nests on your property.
It is also a good idea to check your chimney. Even if they aren’t living under the deck, they can live in tight spaces such as the chimney, venturing out to create a mess or chew on the deck.
Make sure to keep your garage closed as often as you can. This goes for greenhouses, sheds, birdhouses, and even dog houses.
You might be able to return these structures after the squirrel problem is gone but it is better to be safe than sorry.
4 – Give it Distractions
If you really enjoy seeing squirrels in your yard but hate what they do to your deck, there is a middle ground to be had. Simply give them a distraction to keep them from venturing onto your deck.
This might seem like the opposite of everything written in this article, but it allows for keeping their cuteness without any of the mess and destruction that can come with it.
Try setting up some delicious snacks at the other side of your property. You can fill a little box with things such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, and corn cobs.
They will happily nibble away and you can enjoy watching them do so without the threat of them playing havoc on your patio or deck.
Getting Rid of Squirrels
If you’re reading this and the squirrels are already a problem, building up deterrents won’t quite do it. Instead, you’ll need to find ways to get rid of them and then implement steps to keep them away permanently.
The following methods are all safe for getting rid of squirrels. There are definitely lethal options, but it is always a good idea to just get rid of the squirrels instead of killing them off.
Use Soap and Water
Soap is actually quite effective for keeping bugs, insects, and rodents away. All it takes is mixing some liquid dish soap in with water in a garden sprayer.
When your concoction is ready, you can then go about spraying the impacted areas.
Start by spraying around the boards of the deck as well as the rest of the house. This will not only repel the squirrels, but it can also actually do a little bit of cleaning for you. Be careful if you decide to go heavy on the spray.
While it might be cute to watch a squirrel stumble around, it can lead to pretty nasty falls for humans.
Much like using soap, create a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle for easier use. Vinegar also has natural repellent qualities thanks to its strong odor.
Make sure that you dilute it enough that people won’t be able to smell it when you spray it.
With the same method of spraying around impacted areas, you can keep squirrels, rodents, bugs, and any other pests from frequenting the area. This will save you a lot of trouble and money spent having to repair damages that these critters can cause.
Try mixing some cayenne powder with a little bit of water and spray it around the impacted areas. The spicy smell should be enough to deter squirrels from returning to the area. It is important that you respray from time to time.
After a rainstorm, the mixture can become diluted and lack the strength needed to keep the squirrels away from your deck.
What works to keep away larger pests can actually work just fine for getting rid of squirrels, too. Use deer repellent around the perimeter of the patio or deck as well as on the edge of the back wall and any rain spouts that the squirrels could potentially climb on.
Deer repellent is also great if you want to keep your patio furniture protected from damage. Simply spray the repellent on the underside of the patio furniture so that you don’t damage the furniture in the process.
When all else fails, make sure to read the manufacturer label beforehand and follow their instructions.
Coyote and Fox Urine
As gross as it sounds, it can be an effective solution for dealing with an infestation of squirrels.
Like any sort of pest, predators are the quickest and most effective solution. If squirrels smell that coyote or fox urine, they will be inspired to relocate quickly.
Use a lawn sprayer and spray the impacted areas. As gross as it sounds, it’s not like you have to go out into the wild to find it. Both of these things can be purchased at your local garden and home improvement stores.
It’s akin to introducing a predator into the environment without actually doing so. Be careful not to go too heavy on the urine as the smell can also be rather unpleasant for people.
Introduce Other Predators
The urine is so effective because it makes the squirrels believe that there are predators in the area. If you don’t want to spray animal urine around your property, you can at least present the visual that there are predators in the area.
If you have pets, put your cat or dog on patrol. Let them hang out on the patio or in the back yard for extended periods of time.
The squirrels will either see the animals and bolt or they will have the unpleasant experience of getting chased.
Either way, the presence of predators should be enough to chase away even the most persistent of squirrels.
Just be careful: you don’t want your pet to eat the squirrels. Not only is this a potentially nasty mess, squirrels carry disease and could put your dog or cat at risk.
If you don’t have a pet, you can buy statues or plastic variations of hawks or owls. Put them out in the open so that the squirrels can see them since both are natural predators.
Keep in mind that this trick will likely only work for a few weeks at a time; squirrels will eventually figure out that they aren’t real and will move on to something else.
When all else fails, use yourself as the predator. Squirrels are frightened of people, too, and will stay away from areas where people spend a lot of time.
If you’re looking for an excuse to spend more time on your patio or deck, this is the best one that you can have.
Trim Overhanging Branches
Overhanging branches provide an effective vehicle for squirrels to drop onto the patio, deck, and even the roof. It also gives them an effective escape route should they feel threatened or in danger.
If you have trees with overhanging branches, trim them down. Start by trimming them back so that they are at least five feet from the patio or deck, restricting the squirrels from being able to jump down.
If the problem persists, you may need to move on to other treatments as the squirrels may have taken up residence under your patio or deck.
There are very few things in this world that enjoy being sprayed with a hose. Squirrels do not like getting wet and being sprayed with the pressurized water of a sprinkler is a great deterrent for keeping the squirrels away.
You can set certain sprinklers up on repeated timers, providing more moisture in the yard than the squirrels are comfortable with.
If you manage to get them with one of the sprays, even better. Plus, your yard gets a healthy watering that will keep it looking lush and green.
Mix and Match
Squirrels can be persistent if they feel like they have a direct line to a food source or a reliable place to live. Using one method may prove to be effective for a short period of time before leading to a squirrel return.
Try mixing and matching some of the solutions laid out above. Predators, for instance, may work in the short-term, but might not be enough to keep them away permanently.
Create as much resistance as possible and the squirrels should eventually just give up and move elsewhere.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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