Nut trees attract squirrels who often end up making off with the best of the nuts you are hoping to harvest.
However, there are some clever strategies you can use to outsmart the squirrels and get a bigger harvest yield from your nut trees.
In this article, let’s have a look at the 10 best tips for protecting your nut trees from squirrels.
How To Keep Squirrels Away from Nut Trees
To keep squirrels away from nut trees you can try to net your trees, using squirrel repellants, or get a guard dog. Other ways include isolating your nut trees, placing a metal trunk collar, placing an offering for the squirrels, or using an electronic owl. If none works, then plant flowers, spray peppermint on the trunk, or trap them humanely.
10 Ways You Can Protect Your Nut Trees from Squirrels
It’s not always easy.
Squirrels are very intelligent and determined creatures when it comes to getting nuts out of trees.
They will catch on to your strategies pretty quickly, so you might need to regularly switch things up.
They are capable of incredible jumps and will approach a tree from many angles until they find a way to get into the canopy.
However, with persistence and the right strategies, you can outsmart the squirrels and keep the nuts.
1. Net Your Trees
Covering your nut trees in nets is a widely-used strategy for protecting them from squirrels and other wildlife.
The net acts as a barrier, but doesn’t block the sunlight. The tree continues growing, while the squirrels are kept out.
In theory, this works, but in practice, squirrels are very good at climbing trunks and slipping underneath the nets, or just chewing through them.
Netting trees makes accessing the nuts in your nut tree more inconvenient for squirrels — not impossible.
In coordination with other deterrents, netting can be effective.
2. Use Squirrel Repellant
Capsaicin is the ingredient in chili pepper that makes your tongue burn. Squirrels hate it.
You can make your own capsaicin based homemade squirrel repellant with the following recipe:
- 1 gallon of water
- 1oz of hot sauce
- 3 drops of dish detergent
Spray this on the trunk of the tree and on the leaves wherever a squirrel might land. Apply it liberally, and it will deter squirrels.
Unfortunately, squirrel repellant is not 100% effective. Some squirrels will suffer through the heat to get the nuts.
3. Get A Guard Dog
Squirrels don’t like barking dogs, and dogs love to bark at squirrels.
If you can station a dog around your nut trees, they will patrol for you and scare away intruding squirrels. Surprisingly, this method’s effective as a long-term strategy for some people.
Cats have not shown the same zeal for guarding duties, and aren’t effective.
If you don’t have a dog and you’re not interested in getting one, you can still use dog, cat, or human hair to scare away squirrels.
Leaving hair around the base of a nut tree will dissuade squirrels. Make sure to weigh down or partially bury the hair so that it doesn’t blow away.
4. Isolate Your Nut Trees
Trimming nearby trees or removing any fences or posts that can be used to access the branches can isolate each nut tree so that squirrels can only access them by climbing the trunk.
That makes it much easier to deter them, by making the trunk difficult or unpleasant to climb.
If you choose to isolate your nut trees from each other to guard against squirrels, make sure to leave lots of clearance. Squirrels can jump anywhere between 5 and 20 feet.
5. Use a Metal Trunk Collar
If the tree is isolated and the only way to get to the nuts in the canopy is to climb the trunk, you can reduce it to a smooth and unclimbable surface with a sheet metal collar.
Squirrels have very effective little claws, but on a perfectly smooth surface, they can’t get any traction.
The problem with most metal trunk collars is that they are not built high enough.
Squirrels can jump vertically 5 feet or more, so it’s important to wrap the tree in sheet metal for 6 feet or more above the ground so that they can’t just jump over the collar.
6. Leave an Offering
If you want the squirrels to leave your nut trees alone, you can always leave out some nuts or fruit for them to enjoy instead.
These decoy offerings are sometimes enough to keep the squirrels satisfied and away from your nut trees.
You can also selectively apply deterrents to show squirrels that some trees are off-limits while others are fine for them to use.
For example, if you use metal trunk collars on 4 out of 5 of your nut trees, the squirrels will eat from the unprotected tree and be less inclined to try to outsmart the deterrents to reach others.
7. Use an Electronic Owl
Squirrels are terrified of owls.
You can keep squirrels away from your nut trees by stationing an electronic owl to guard them, either on a post nearby or perched on a branch.
The owl will swivel its head to face in the direction of any nearby movement that is detected.
This is effective in scaring squirrels, at least for a while. In some cases, the squirrels are clever enough in figuring out the trick you placed.
8. Plant Flowers
Squirrels don’t like certain plants and will avoid them.
Planting these around your nut trees will discourage squirrels by creating a barrier of plants that squirrels don’t like.
9. Spray with Peppermint Oil
Squirrels hate peppermint and will avoid it. You can spray the trunk of your nut trees with a solution of peppermint oil in water to deter squirrels.
It won’t work every time, and squirrels are good at jumping to avoid the sprayed areas, but it has been effective for some people.
10. Trap Squirrels Humanely
The final recourse is to trap the squirrels that are eating the nuts out of your trees so that you can release them elsewhere: hopefully somewhere where they won’t find their way back.
You can use the Havahart traps or any other humane trap for squirrels.
This is effective, especially when other methods have worked and the squirrels in your area have learned to avoid or endure the other deterrents you have in place.
However, you might find yourself transporting a lot of squirrels. Once you remove a squirrel, another takes its place.
Eventually, you would need to remove the entire local squirrel population.
How to Protect Your Nut Trees From Squirrels
You’ll need to stay vigilant and switch up your methods regularly if you want to outsmart the squirrels and protect your nut trees.
However, it can be done.
You just need to find the right solution — or a combination of solutions — for your situation.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.