How to Keep Chipmunks Out of the Garden

Learn how to stop these critters from wrecking your garden.
Chipmunk On Tree

Chipmunk On Tree

Adorable, yes. That is until a chipmunk makes your garden its main course.

Adorable, yes. That is until a chipmunk makes your garden its main course.

They're little. They're cute. And they can be incredibly destructive.

At first glance chipmunks might not seem like a garden's worst nightmare. But just wait until they've chewed up your freshly-planted tomato seeds, dug holes all over your garden, or eaten up your tulip roots.

Because they're small and nimble, chipmunks can get into tight places that larger pests can't, and they're great diggers, too, so even seeds beneath the soil and plant roots aren't safe. 

Chipmunks can be persistent and creative to get what they want, but with some trial and error, you can make sure they stop destroying your garden! 

Here are four humane ideas for keeping them away:

  • Fence them out: Since chipmunks are small, good climbers, and even better diggers, fences aren't always a very effective method of keeping them out. A fence with small holes that's buried at least 6 inches underground and tall enough that it won't be easy to climb may deter the critters, particularly when combined with other methods. Netting over the top and sides of the fence will provide additional obstacles for critters. 
  • Add some spice: Sprinkling cayenne, chili powder or other hot, intense spices around your garden is a non-toxic way to discourage chipmunks from hanging around. Gardeners also report success deterring chipmunks with a generous sprinkling of medicated powder. 
  • Trap them: If you're only dealing with a few critters, using a live trap specially made for chipmunks and then releasing the rodents far from your house can be an effective way to get them out of your garden and moving on to friendlier pastures. But if you're worried about humane elimination, keep in mind that a grown-up chipmunk may have helpless babies close by.
  • Bring in a "predator": A decoy predator, like a motion-activated owl, can scare chipmunks away from your yard. You can also buy a spray product made from the urine of predator animals like red foxes and cats. The smell will convince chipmunks that they're in danger - and they'll stay away.
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