Does Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away

squirrel eating tomatoes

By Erin Marissa Russell

Want to find out whether coffee grounds will keep squirrels away? The simple answer is yes—when used properly, coffee grounds can keep squirrels at bay. Find out how best to use them here.

Squirrels are fun to watch in the yard, but they can really wreak havoc in the garden. That’s why many people are in search of a way to keep squirrels out of the garden. Coffee grounds are a simple solution to this problem because squirrels are naturally repelled by their scent.

Tips for Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

  • You can use regular or decaf coffee grounds to keep squirrels at bay in the garden. Either formulation will work just fine.
  • You may hear that you don’t need the freshest coffee grounds to use in your garden if you want to keep squirrels away. It’s true that you can use the grounds left over after you brew your morning cup, but you won’t want to use seriously old coffee grounds in the garden. For one thing, they’ll be lacking in the scent arena, and the smell is what makes coffee repellent to squirrels. For another thing, however, old coffee grounds can be breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and other substances you want to keep to a minimum in your garden.
  • Focus your coffee ground application on the areas where squirrels are causing the most trouble. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’ll get the most mileage out of coffee grounds you install in the highest traffic areas of your garden where squirrels have been causing damage.
  • You can either use fresh coffee grounds or use ones that have already been brewed. Differences in variety, as in light or dark, flavored or unflavored, will not make a difference in how effective the coffee is in repelling squirrels.
  • Use a one-inch layer of coffee grounds around potted plants and on the ground around your plants growing directly in the soil. Be careful not to let the coffee grounds touch the plant. Just like when applying mulch, you’ll need to leave a margin of a few inches of empty space between the coffee grounds and the plants themselves. This is because if the coffee grounds touch the plants, they can help spread disease throughout your garden.
  • Using more than an inch of coffee grounds is another way to breed mold in the garden, which you don’t want. Limit your coffee ground use to a one-inch layer around plants that squirrels are targeting, or those you want to protect. This is one time when more is not always better.
  • You don’t have to generate your own coffee grounds to put them to use in the garden. Consider asking a local coffee shop for some grounds. They’re sure to have plenty to share.
  • In addition to protecting your plants with coffee grounds, you can also use them to keep the squirrels out of your bird feeders. Just spread a one-inch layer around the bird feeder to keep squirrels backed off.
  • You may have heard success stories from some gardeners who used coffee grounds in their compost. However, this isn’t recommended because it’s easy for coffee grounds to change the pH balance of your compost and make it detrimental to plants.
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Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

  • Certain plants thrive in acidity, and these plants will be super happy that you’re using coffee grounds in the garden. However, you may want to read up on the pH level that different plants prefer for their soil so you don’t make the soil too acidic around plants that prefer alkalinity. Most of the acidity comes from liquid associated with the grounds and not the grounds themselves. The coffee grounds themselves are near neutral in pH.
  • Alkalinity and acidity aside, coffee grounds contain some minerals that plants need to grow healthy and strong.
  • In addition to keeping squirrels out of the garden, if you use coffee grounds as a repellent, you’re improving the texture of your soil at the same time.
  • Caffeine is a natural defense system for plants because it repels insects. So when you use coffee grounds to keep squirrels out of the garden, you’re putting down a natural insecticide, too.
  • Coffee is simple to install and doesn’t require a ton of maintenance or upkeep.
  • Coffee grounds are a budget-friendly way to keep squirrels out of the garden. If your household drinks coffee, you’ve likely got all the grounds you’ll ever need covered for the rest of time. But even if no one in your house likes to drink coffee, you should be able to get used grounds for free from a local coffee shop for private use.
  • Compared to a lot of the alternative options out there for repelling wildlife, the smell of coffee grounds is downright delicious.
  • Squirrels aren’t the only wildlife that are likely to be repelled by coffee grounds. You can also count on coffee grounds to keep deer, chipmunks, and snails or slugs at bay.
  • While coffee grounds repel undesirable wildlife, they actually attract wildlife that’s good for the garden. Specifically, worms love coffee grounds and will be attracted to garden plots that use them. In addition to directly benefiting the soil with their aeration and nutritional boost, worms also attract other pollinators to your garden (like birds), making the garden overall a healthier place.
  • There’s no certain time of day that’s better for putting out coffee grounds than any other. However, there are times when you should make adjustments due to the weather. Do not set out coffee grounds when rain or wind is forecasted; you don’t want your treatment to be washed or blown away.
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Drawbacks of Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Squirrels Out of the Garden

  • As we’ve mentioned, some plants like the boost of acidity they can get from coffee, while other plants like more alkaline environments. Be conscious of which plants in your garden are which so you know where to use a lighter hand or skip the coffee altogether. For example, cacti, lavender, and orchids are all sensitive to acidity and can die if you use coffee near them.
  • You will need to refresh your application of coffee grounds once they’ve been in action for a while, so this isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. You’ll need to perform some occasional maintenance in your garden to make sure the coffee grounds stay actively repellent to squirrels. Start out spreading coffee grounds about once a week. If this timetable isn’t keeping the squirrels at bay, increase to every few days instead.
  • Using coffee grounds is cheap, simple, and environmentally friendly, but it’s not the most effective option out there. It is a gentle and sustainable way to keep squirrels out of the garden, however.
  • Do not spread coffee grounds where pets will play unsupervised. In high enough quantities, ingestion of coffee grounds can be harmful to pets.
keeping squirrels out of the garden

Other Ways to Keep Squirrels at Bay

If, for whatever reason, you decide that coffee grounds aren’t the right solution for you, you do have some other squirrel repellent options to fall back on.

  • Decoy Predators: You’ve probably seen these statues of the predators of squirrels in other gardens. Common predators used as decoys include owls and hawks. Squirrels aren’t likely to hang around for long in areas where they see the silhouette of a predator.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: As with coffee grounds, red pepper flakes are an ingredient that’s naturally repellent to squirrels and doesn’t come along with too many drawbacks. The capsaicin in red pepper flakes is an irritant for squirrels, so they’ll go out of their way to avoid areas where there are a lot of red pepper flakes.
  • Repellent Plants: There are several different plants you can grow that are repellent to squirrels, such as daffodils, geraniums, hyacinth, or lily of the valley. However, as with coffee grounds, repellent plants will only keep squirrels away from the immediate area where they’re positioned. However, if you’re experiencing serious squirrel problems in one particular area of your garden, this may be the solution that works for you.
  • Sprays: There are sprays available on the market that are artificial versions of the scent of a squirrel’s natural predators. Most require you to spray around your yard, especially in areas where squirrels are commonly spotted. While coffee grounds can cause caffeine toxicity, some of these sprays can also be toxic to pets because of the ingredients they contain, so check carefully if you plan to use a spray in areas where pets play.
  • Ultrasonic Repellent: Ultrasonic repellent can be a pricey option, but the way they work is by putting out a frequency that’s repellent to squirrels or other pest animals. Many ultrasonic repellents allow you to adjust the output to target a particular animal.
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Now you’ve learned all about how coffee grounds work to keep squirrels out of the garden. You know exactly how to use them to get the best results as well as what the drawbacks are of using this method. We’ve even covered a few of the alternatives to coffee grounds when it comes to keeping squirrels at bay. Now all you need to do is start collecting your spent coffee grounds (or use fresh ones!) so that you can put the grounds to use in your garden.

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squirrel eating tomatoes with text overlay gardening tips using coffee grounds to keep squirrels out of garden