How to Keep Chipmunks Out of Garden: 10 Effective Tricks

It is inevitable that at some point, nature makes its home in your garden more than you would want. 

Butterflies, bees, birds, and beneficial insects you want to welcome as much as possible, but one thing you want to deter from your garden is the chipmunk, or you will find chaos everywhere.

These cute and mischievous animals can be a little bothersome, or they can be the worst pest ever. 

They might feast on your hard-earned veggies or fruits, decimate your precious seedlings, and leave evidence of their presence everywhere.

If you do have chipmunks in your garden, and they are becoming more nuisance than a novelty, it’s time to look at ways to deter them. Here are ten tricks that will help you do this.

What Brings Chipmunks Into A Garden?

In order to understand how to get rid of chipmunks, it’s important to consider what makes a garden attractive to them in the first place. 

While gardens are great places to invite nature, there is a point where this becomes too much, and you want to figuratively close the door on some uninvited guests.

Food

One of the biggest reasons a chipmunk will visit your garden is because they’ve discovered it’s a good place to find food. They absolutely adore plants that produce fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Think about the plants you already have that might attract chipmunks, and how you can limit your access to them.

Shelter

Chipmunks may come to visit your garden because they have found somewhere predators can’t reach, or that screens them from view. This could be anything from evergreen trees, large hedges, or tall grasses.

Water

Another reason you might see chipmunks in your garden is when their usual sources of water dry up, or your garden becomes an important and safe area to drink.

This could be anything from a fountain, pond, pool, or even a puddle that appears regularly.

If you have more than one of these attractive aspects in your garden, it’s worth taking a look at ways you can make your garden a little less welcome to chipmunks.

How To Stop Chipmunks Making Themselves At Home In Your Garden

One thing to note, before we get started, is that no method of pest deterrents is 100% effective. It’s usually a combination of a few methods that will do the trick, so try a few at once and see how you go.

It’s also worth asking your neighbors especially if they have the same problem. They may have already found something that has worked for them, and in all likelihood, it will work for you too.

Make Sure You Have A Good Barrier Or Fence

Having chicken wire around your boundaries is a good rule of thumb for any garden, especially if you have pets. While it’s helpful to leave a small hole or tunnel for hedgehogs to move through different gardens safely, one thing you don’t want to attract is chipmunks. 

Use chicken wire to create a barrier, but you will need to bury it about 6 inches below the soil to stop them from digging their way under the soil. This will help keep rabbits out, too.

Just make sure that the holes in the wire aren’t big enough for chipmunks to squeeze through, so they need to be smaller than a quarter of an inch.

Choose The Right Plants To Repel Them

Another thing that you can do is to choose the right plants to do some of the work for you. 

Chipmunks don’t like plants that are quite fragrant, such as lavender, garlic, and most herbs including mint (keep this in a pot, or it will take over your garden), peppermint, sage, alliums, and cilantro. 

You might also plant lupines, asters, coneflowers, and daffodils, which have been known to repel chipmunks. 

French marigolds and grape hyacinths are also known to repel chipmunks, and it helps that marigolds are a great companion plant to crops (see also What Flowers Work Well Together?), so you’re doing two jobs in one!

Another type of plant that chipmunks might avoid is those that are thorny, which is worth a try. Just make sure you don’t plant them somewhere where they will cause you some trouble!

Protect Plants They Are Attracted To

Put chicken wire around fruit and vegetable plants, and this will go a lot further in protecting them than you might think. Make sure you do this for anything the chipmunks are making a beeline for.

It’s also worth pointing out that this will protect your plants from the likes of rabbits, other furry visitors, and birds too (see also Protecting Your Garden From Birds).

It’s worth wrapping the trunks of trees, especially those that are smaller or younger, and therefore more vulnerable to disease after being damaged. Chipmunks have a tendency to scratch tree bark.

Wrap them with plastic or aluminum foil, which should largely stop the chipmunks from scaling the trees in the first place.

Invest In Chipmunk Repellents

Another step to take is to invest in some chipmunk-specific repellents, and it helps that you probably already have these in your cupboards if you don’t want to buy some. 

Chipmunks don’t like strong odors, so go for apple cider vinegar, coffee grounds, peppermint, chili powder, cayenne pepper, chili oil, and citrus essential oils.

Use Fake Predators

It sounds odd, doesn’t it? But investing in some lifelike plastic predators can play on the chipmunks’ prey instincts, and cause them to consider it an area where they might get eaten.

Plastic birds of prey and snakes will help fool the chipmunks that there is a real danger that they will become a snack, rather than snacking on your garden.

However, this method only works if you occasionally change the location of the predators. Otherwise, they will realize it’s nothing to be frightened of as it never moves!

Use Real Predators (Your Pets)

One of the easiest ways to keep nuisance prey animals out of your garden is to let your pets enjoy the green space, instead. 

Chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits will avoid areas that smell like cats and dogs, so let your pets do their business in your garden, and also leave any stray hair from their brushes where you don’t want the pests to go.

If you don’t have pets, ask someone who does to walk them around your garden, or, failing that, ask a local groomer if they will give you some of the cut fur, so you can deter the chipmunks with the smell.

Put In Motion-Activated Deterrents

Even those of us who love to spend as much time in the garden as possible cannot be there every minute of the day to chase off pests. One thing you can do to leave your garden relatively guarded is to buy some motion-activated deterrents.

This might be something that plays a loud and obnoxious noise (but this will get grating quickly), or use motion-activated sprinklers or water guns, and this will send those chipmunks running for cover.

Scare Them Off With Ultrasonic Deterrents

Ultrasonic devices are popular for deterring many kinds of pests, including mice, rats, chipmunks, and pigeons, but make sure that the device you use is suitable for deterring chipmunks.

However, it’s worth mentioning that some people can sense some sort of noise when they are on, and it can give people with sensitive hearing headaches. 

If you do have pets, check with the manufacturer that an ultrasonic deterrent won’t harm them.

It’s worth turning off an ultrasonic deterrent occasionally, as this will stop animals from getting too used to the noise and rendering it ineffective. 

Make Sure They Can’t Get In Your Trash

While chipmunks are well-known for targeting fruit, nuts, vegetables and seeds, they will get into the trash if they can, alongside other critters like raccoons or possums. 

So it’s worth making sure that any trash cans you do have are locked up tight, and making sure any bags of trash are somewhere that wildlife can’t break into.

If nature has found a way into your trash, up the difficulty by using bungee cords or metal bins. 

Consult The Professionals

If all else fails, it’s time to call in the professionals. Or, maybe you’re just tired of things not working, in which case it’s a good idea to call in a pest expert. 

Trained professionals will use methods that the average gardener should stay away from, such as trapping animals. 

Not only is it dangerous when you don’t know what you’re doing, but it could injure the animals, or capture and injure something other than a chipmunk. You may also get in trouble with the law, too.

Another reason to turn to the professionals is that their methods work – and usually, they are humane and chipmunks are released responsibly elsewhere. It also takes a problem off your mind, too.

Making The Most Out Of Natural Chipmunk Deterrents

When it comes to natural deterrents, there are a few to choose from. It also helps that these don’t actually harm the chipmunks, but deter them from spending any more time in your garden.

Many of the above methods are classified as natural deterrents, and using more than just one or two is bound to make your garden a little bit more unwelcoming to these creatures.

If you are using repellents, you will need to reapply them after watering or the rain, as it will wash them away.

Make sure to move any plastic predators around your garden to fool the chipmunks into thinking that if they stay, they will be food.

Let your pets do some of the work, and allow them to spend time and explore the garden as much as possible. This makes their scent stronger.

How To Keep Your Vegetable Garden Safe From Chipmunks

While it’s nice to enjoy nature’s visitors in your garden, there is the potential that chipmunks will destroy your hard work, especially in a vegetable garden. 

When they eat the ‘fruits’ of your labor that should be yours, it can be really disheartening, so let’s look at how to prevent it.

The most obvious one – and the most difficult – is to make sure they cannot reach vegetable and fruit plants. 

You might keep them in a raised bed with a homemade chicken wire cage on the top that you can take off as needed, or create a walk-in protective cage to stop them entirely, and wrap chicken wire around existing plants in borders.

Limit the shelter and water they can access, by netting ponds, fountains, and covering trunks of trees, so they cannot climb them.

The tips above should help, too.

Keeping Chipmunks Away From Your Tomato Plants

Chipmunks love tomatoes, so these tasty crops can be a magnet for these animals. The easiest way to deter them is to grow them in a greenhouse. This doesn’t have to be a fancy one, even a tall pop-up plastic one can be enough.

There are some chipmunk repellents that have been designed to be safe to spray onto crops, so make use of this too. Just ensure that the spray you’re using is definitely safe for edible plants.

If you prefer to grow your tomatoes outside, plant them in containers, grow bags, or raised beds, and help protect them further by using chicken wire to create a barrier.

Other Things To Consider When Trying To Rid Your Garden Of Chipmunks

Capitalize On Their Strong Sense Of Smell

Use their own senses against them. They can’t stand citrus, lavender, and herbs, so plant with abandon!

Use Vinegar To Deter Chipmunks

You can also use a mixture of vinegar and water to spray around your plants, but be careful not to get it directly on the leaves, and only use a little.

Or, you can use spare rags and soak them in vinegar, and then pop them into areas you want the chipmunks to steer clear of.

Can You Use Irish Spring Soap To Get Rid Of Chipmunks?

There is a theory that chipmunks don’t like Irish spring soap, as they don’t like strong smells in general. 

It’s worth a go, so the best way of doing this is to grate the soap bar into some socks or pantyhose (where they cannot be eaten by wildlife), and put these little bags around the garden.

Can You Use Coffee Grounds To Repel Chipmunks?

Coffee grounds don’t just deter snails and slugs, but it can also stop chipmunks, too. Sprinkle them around the plants that are vulnerable, but it is worth noting that if you’re applying lots and lots, this can affect the pH of the soil eventually.

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