How to Control Gray Squirrels Digging in Vegetable Garden


The gray squirrel is a type of tree squirrel that is prevalent across the United States. The gray squirrel is notorious for gathering nuts, eating birdseed out of bird feeders and eating fruits from the home garden. They also eat vegetables, especially sweet corn. Unfortunately, you cannot just build a fence to keep squirrels out. They are climbers and can usually overcome your exclusion attempts. Fortunately, though, there are a few methods to help prevent gray squirrels from eating your vegetables and digging in your garden.

Step 1

Lay a ¼-inch wire mesh, hardware cloth or chicken wire over the planting site after you plant your seeds. Lay mulch or soil on top of the wire. The vegetables will sprout through the holes. This layer of wire will help prevent gray squirrels from eating the seeds and will prevent them from digging when the vegetables are grown.

Step 2

Use repellents, such as Methyl nonyl ketone crystals, along the border of your vegetable garden. The repellent should be labeled specifically for use in the vegetable garden and to control squirrels. Follow label instructions, as each repellent is different. This will help keep the squirrels out of your garden all together.

Step 3

Trap them. Call your local animal control or pest control company to get a Havahart trap big enough for gray squirrels. Every trap is different, so follow the directions carefully when setting the trap. Use peanut butter or nutmeats from nuts as the bait. Don't set the trigger for about three days to allow the squirrels time to get used to it. Then, set the trap. When you catch one, take care. Wear heavy-duty gloves and take the squirrel to release it at least five miles from your home. You cannot release trapped animals in federal wildlife refuges.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire mesh, hardware cloth, or chicken wire. 1/4 inch
  • Squirrel repellent
  • Havahart trap
  • Peanut butter or nutmeats
  • Gloves


  • University of Delaware Cooperative Extension: Animals in the Garden
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Tree Squirrels in the Vegetable Garden
Keywords: control gray squirrels, squirrel repellent, garden pests

About this Author

Melissa Lewis graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has written over 20 episodes for the radio drama entitled "A Work in Progress." She also writes for several online outlets, including Gardenguides, Travels and Examiner, and is currently finalizing a movie script to be filmed in 2010.