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How to Keep Squirrels off Your Balcony Garden

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Wondering how to keep squirrels off your balcony garden? Here’s how I do it using a DIY spray approach—easy, safe, and all-natural!

How to keep squirrels off your balcony and protect your little garden!

I absolutely love my apartment balcony garden. This is the first time we’ve have a balcony sunny enough to grow anything on, and I’ve definitely taken full advantage of it! I have a vertical balcony garden I made that has herb pots clipped onto it and a bed of lettuce at the bottom.

After my skinny pallet planter bit the dust, I bought this replacement planter and planted more lettuce seedlings. I also have a cherry tomato plant, a jalapeno plant, a smaller planter with more herbs, and a few miscellaneous potted plants on the patio table. It’s my little apartment paradise!

small apartment balcony garden
Apartment balcony garden
Apartment balcony table and chairs
small garden on an apartment balcony

Isn’t it adorable? You think so? Well, the squirrels do, too. Unfortunately, the approximately 1 million neighborhood squirrels decided it was open season and time to have some farm-fresh yummies on my balcony. THE SQUIRRELS LOVE MY GARDEN.

They climb up the gutter next to our balcony, hop over, and dig into the soil. They typically don’t damage the plants, but they dig up seedlings and make a huge mess! I had to replant my lettuce seeds four times before I caved and bought chicken wire.

small garden on an apartment balcony

But chicken wire didn’t quite cut it…

But after a few days of having chicken wire up and me thinking my plants were safe, the squirrels found their way in through the top of the chicken wire. I read online that squirrels hate the smell of cayenne pepper, so I tried just sprinkling that in my soil, but it didn’t do anything. They still dug holes and threw soil everywhere.

Eventually I decided to try my hand at a squirrel repellant spray. After I started spraying my soil with my DIY squirrel repellant spray, the squirrels starting staying off the balcony. In fact, the morning after I sprayed it, I saw a squirrel on our balcony, but it didn’t dig any holes!

It just sniffed around and ran away. I’m hoping it’s because they hate the smell of my squirrel repellant and not just because they’ve run out of trinkets to bury. I guess I will miss their little surprises.

Here’s what I used:

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Cayenne pepper, about a teaspoon
  • Pot, stove, strainer, spray bottle

And here’s how to keep squirrels off your balcony, specifically your garden!

Step 1: Chop the veggies

First chop the onion and jalapeno. Make sure to leave the seeds and membrane in the mixture. That’s the spicy part of the jalapeno! If you don’t have a jalapeno but have another hot pepper, you could probably use that as well.

Step 2: Add water, powder, and boil

Add the onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes to really get the spices flowing, and then turn off the burner and let the mixture cool.

diy squirrel repellant spray

Step 3: Strain and spray!

Pour through a strainer so that only the liquid mixture makes it into the spray bottle. I didn’t want to waste the onions and jalapenos, so I added a bunch to some spicy stir fry chicken for dinner and saved the rest for another meal. But beware, they are s-p-i-c-y!

Spray the soil of your plants. The smell will hopefully ward off your tree rats and prevent them from digging holes and throwing soil everywhere. I didn’t spray any leaves because I didn’t have any problems with squirrels munching on the leaves. I also recommend spraying after watering.

small container garden

Why do jalapenos, onions, and cayenne pepper keep squirrels away?

Squirrels are finicky little buggers when it comes to spicy things, and they loathe the smell and taste of capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes hot peppers spicy, so it’s basically a taste/smell deterrent for them. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s probably the best solution you can try.

Some bird seed even comes in spicy mixtures to deter squirrels from bird feeders, which is kind of funny. (The birds don’t mind it, I guess.) If this mixture doesn’t work for your stubborn squirrels, go to your nearest specialist Asian supermarket and find the hottest peppers you can find! The higher the capsaicin rating, the better!

Don’t want to DIY this or simply don’t have time to? You can check out something like a “flaming hot squirrel seed sauce.” I haven’t used this, but the reviews look pretty good. And it looks REALLY hot, so use gloves! You can also try something like this super hot sprinkle mix you can put over your soil.

planter box with herbs growing in it
tiny tomato
small garden on an apartment balcony

DIY Spray to Keep Squirrels off Your Balcony Garden

diy squirrel repellant spray

Wondering how to keep squirrels off your balcony garden? Here's how I do it using a DIY spray approach—easy, safe, and all-natural!

Materials

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Cayenne pepper, about a teaspoon
  • Pot, stove, strainer, spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Chop the onion and jalapeno; make sure to leave the seeds and membrane in a jalapeno!
  2. Add the veggies to a pot with the water and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 20–30 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Pour through a strainer into a spray bottle and spray the top of your soil after watering.

Notes

Capsaicin is what makes peppers spicy, and it's what helps to deter the squirrels! The hotter, the better. You can use other hot peppers if you don't have jalapenos or if this mixture isn't working.

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Terry Ann Steffen

Tuesday 20th of September 2016

Does this work for mice too? I live near agriculture and mice are a problem, but I don't want to use chemicals.

Brittany Merth

Tuesday 20th of September 2016

I'm sorry, but I haven't tried it on mice!

Toni | Small Home Soul

Monday 29th of August 2016

Great idea, I love wildlife but I love my vegetable garden more. We had to make a habenero oil spray to keep the deer from eating the leaves off of everything. We tried Irish spring but they're so hungry from our drought in California that even that didn't work for long.

I hope you get to enjoy some yummy veggies!

Brittany Merth

Monday 29th of August 2016

Oh I'm glad that worked! Our spray scared the squirrels right away...we've gotten plenty of lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapenos!!

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