The Secret To Humanely Banishing Squirrels From Your Garden Is In Your Kitchen

Squirrels — while being pretty cute with their big eyes and bushy tails — are absolute menaces in the garden. From scaring songbirds away from feeders to digging up newly planted flowers, these little rodents can easily drive any gardener mad. However, despite how annoying they can be, most of us would prefer to humanely banish them from our yards instead of harming them. Luckily, there are a few ways you can do this. One commonly recommended method is to put plastic forks around your plants to protect them. However, if you don't necessarily want your yard to be covered in plastic forks, the best way to banish squirrels from your garden is to use cinnamon.

In fact, squirrels hate the smell of this common household spice so much that simply sprinkling it around areas where you don't want them to be — like your garden or bird feeder — is an effective method of keeping them away. Plus, on top of being nontoxic for most animals, cinnamon is good for plants and can work wonders in the garden by stimulating root growth.

How to use cinnamon to repel squirrels

While the most simple way to use cinnamon to keep squirrels away is to take the powdered spice and spread it around your garden, there are also a few other methods you can try. If you feel like cinnamon powder alone won't be powerful enough to deter your most determined squirrels, you can mix your cinnamon powder with cayenne powder. Or, you can even go for the extra strength option of cayenne extract or peppermint essential oil mixed with cinnamon powder to make a combination that packs a punch and will offend even the hungriest rodents. However, no matter which method you choose, it is important to know that the spices and oils will need to be reapplied after each rain.

If you are trying to keep squirrels off of your birdfeeders, you can simply mix the cinnamon directly into the birdseed. To do this, first, lightly coat your birdseed in oil then mix in the cinnamon powder and let the seeds dry before adding them to the feeder. The cinnamon will keep the squirrels away but won't affect the birds — just make sure to use Ceylon cinnamon (instead of Cassia or Chinese cinnamon) for the health of your feathered friends.

Why cinnamon works so well against squirrels

Although no one knows exactly why squirrels don't like cinnamon, most people believe it's because these critters have a powerful sense of smell. Evolutionarily speaking, squirrels need to have a great nose to be able to forage and find nuts that they have stashed away for winter. Sometimes they need to even be able to find a food stash that is buried under a foot of snow, and they often do this through smell. So, it makes sense that a strong-smelling spice like cinnamon would be unpleasant for critters with such sensitive noses, and it explains why squirrels also dislike the scent of peppermint oil, chili powder, vinegar, and garlic. 

However, although squirrels don't like the smell of many spices that are pleasant to humans, cinnamon is a great critter-repelling choice because it also deters loads of other annoying garden pests. In fact, cinnamon is thought to repel most rodents, including ground squirrels, mice, and rats. The spice can also deter rabbits and deer, which can be particularly destructive garden munchers. Fun fact: you can also keep deer away with Irish Spring soap

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