How to Prevent Squirrels from Eating Tomatoes

Home and Garden

Tomatoes are a popular and nutritious fruit that many gardeners enjoy growing in their backyard. However, squirrels can often be a nuisance as they have a tendency to eat the tomatoes before they are ripe. In this article, we will discuss various strategies and methods to prevent squirrels from eating your precious tomatoes.

1. Understanding the Behavior of Squirrels

Before we dive into the methods of keeping squirrels away from tomatoes, it’s important to understand their behavior. Squirrels are agile climbers and excellent jumpers. They are attracted to the smell and taste of ripe tomatoes, which makes them a common target for these critters.

1.1 Squirrel Habits

Squirrels are diurnal creatures, which means they are most active during the day. They have sharp teeth and claws that allow them to easily access and consume various types of food. Squirrels are known to be persistent and will continue to come back to a food source if they find it rewarding.

2. Physical Barriers

One effective way to prevent squirrels from eating your tomatoes is by using physical barriers. These barriers create a physical obstacle that makes it difficult for squirrels to access the plants. Here are some common physical barriers:

2.1 Netting

Netting is a popular method used by gardeners to protect their crops from squirrels. It involves covering the tomato plants with a mesh netting that allows sunlight and air to reach the plants while keeping squirrels out. Make sure the netting is securely fastened to prevent squirrels from sneaking in.

2.2 Fencing

Another effective method is to install a sturdy fence around your garden. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and buried at least 6 inches into the ground to prevent squirrels from digging underneath it. Additionally, the gaps in the fence should be small enough to prevent squirrels from squeezing through.

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3. Repellents

If physical barriers are not feasible or desirable, you can try using repellents to deter squirrels from your tomato plants. These repellents work by emitting odors or tastes that squirrels find unpleasant. Here are some common types of repellents:

3.1 Homemade Repellents

You can make your own homemade squirrel repellents using ingredients that are readily available in your kitchen. Some popular options include chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and peppermint oil. Mix these ingredients with water and spray the solution on and around the tomato plants.

3.2 Commercial Repellents

Commercially available squirrel repellents can also be effective in keeping squirrels away from your tomatoes. These repellents often contain natural ingredients such as predator urine or hot pepper extracts. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

4. Planting Strategies

Strategic planting can also help deter squirrels from your tomato plants. Here are a few planting strategies you can try:

4.1 Companion Planting

Companion planting involves growing plants that naturally repel squirrels next to your tomato plants. Some examples of companion plants that deter squirrels include marigolds, garlic, and onions. The strong scent of these plants can help mask the smell of the tomatoes, making them less appealing to squirrels.

4.2 Elevated Planters

Consider growing your tomatoes in elevated planters or hanging baskets. This makes it harder for squirrels to access the plants and reduces the risk of them being eaten.

5. Harvesting Techniques

Harvesting your tomatoes at the right time can also help prevent squirrels from eating them. Here’s what you can do:

5.1 Early Harvesting

Harvest tomatoes as soon as they start to show signs of ripening. This prevents the squirrels from getting a chance to eat them before you do. Even if they are not fully ripe, you can allow them to ripen indoors.

6. Scare Tactics

Squirrels are wary of potential dangers, so using scare tactics can be an effective way to keep them away from your tomatoes. Here are some scare tactics you can try:

6.1 Visual Deterrents

Place shiny objects or wind chimes near your tomato plants to create movement and noise. Squirrels are startled by sudden movements and loud noises, so this can deter them from approaching.

6.2 Predator Decoys

Placing fake predators, such as a plastic owl or snake, near your tomato plants can create the illusion of a threat. Squirrels are less likely to approach if they think there is a predator nearby.

7. Maintaining a Clean Garden

Keeping your garden clean and free of fallen fruits and debris can discourage squirrels from being attracted to your tomatoes. Here are a few tips:

7.1 Regular Cleanup

Remove fallen tomatoes and other debris from the ground regularly. This eliminates potential food sources for squirrels and reduces their interest in your garden.

7.2 Bird Feeders

Avoid placing bird feeders near your tomato plants as they can attract squirrels. Squirrels are notorious for raiding bird feeders, so keeping them away from your garden can help prevent tomato damage.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQ 1: Do squirrels eat green tomatoes?

Yes, squirrels are known to eat both green and ripe tomatoes. They are attracted to the smell and taste of the fruit, regardless of its ripeness.

FAQ 2: Can I use mothballs to deter squirrels?

While mothballs have a strong smell that may repel squirrels, they are not recommended for use in the garden. Mothballs contain toxic chemicals that can harm plants and wildlife.

FAQ 3: How often should I apply homemade repellents?

Homemade repellents should be reapplied every few days or after rain to maintain their effectiveness. The scent and taste wear off over time, so regular application is necessary.

FAQ 4: Will a dog or cat keep squirrels away?

Dogs and cats can help deter squirrels from your garden, especially if they have a strong prey drive. The presence of a predator can make squirrels think twice before approaching your tomato plants.

FAQ 5: Are there any plants that squirrels dislike?

Yes, squirrels have a dislike for certain plants due to their strong smell or taste. Some examples include daffodils, hyacinths, and geraniums. Planting these flowers near your tomatoes may help repel squirrels.

FAQ 6: Can I use chemical repellents?

Chemical repellents specifically designed to deter squirrels are available in the market. However, it is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consider the potential impact on the environment.

FAQ 7: Are there any natural predators of squirrels?

Natural predators of squirrels include hawks, owls, and snakes. Encouraging the presence of these predators in your area can help keep the squirrel population in check.


Preventing squirrels from eating your tomatoes requires a combination of strategies. Using physical barriers, repellents, strategic planting, and scare tactics can all contribute to keeping these furry creatures away from your precious crop. Regular maintenance and cleanliness in your garden also play a crucial role in deterring squirrels. By implementing these methods and being persistent, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor without having to share them with the squirrels.

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