4 Ways to Prevent Squirrels (and Other Animals) From Eating Pumpkins, Gourds, and More Fall Décor

Keep animals away from the edible decorations in your autumnal display once and for all.

As summer fades to autumn, many of us eagerly await the opportunity to deck out our landscapes with fall décor. This typically makes for a beautiful setup of pumpkins, corn stalks, gourds, and more on-theme decorations. The only downside to these edible baubles? They often attract unwanted critters, like squirrels and chipmunks, to your yard. However, there are a few ways you can deter animals from snacking on your fall display, ensuring your house remains the most festive one on the block.

Perishable Fall Decor on Porch


Spray Repelling Scents

Spraying your pumpkins, gourds, corn, and other edible decorations with repelling scents may keep curious animals, including squirrels, at bay.

  • Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper is used by some gardeners to discourage animals that find the seasoning's scent and spice distasteful after taking their first bite. "Sprinkling it on the outside of the pumpkin may help," says Melinda Myers, gardening expert and host of the Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series.
  • Peppermint and eucalyptus oil: Some essential oils, like peppermint and eucalyptus, may deter pests from eating your display. "You can dilute the oil in water and spray it on or around the décor," says Rich Christakes, founder of Ship My Plants. "The strong smell will help to deter rodents."
  • Vinegar: Spray your edible fall decorations with vinegar, as the strong scent is believed to be a deterrent for squirrels and other critters. But keep in mind that this may make your front porch smell unpleasant, too.
  • Pet hair: Sprinkle pet hair on and around your pumpkins. If mice and moles burr up from the ground, placing pet hair underneath the pumpkins may make them think a predator is nearby.
  • Plantskydd: This is an organic rain- and snow-resistant animal repellent. "It uses predator odor to repel plant eating animals including squirrels before they take a bite out of the plant, or in this case, pumpkin," says Myers. "The granules can be sprinkled on the soil around the display or porch to discourage squirrels."

Hang Squirrel Feeders

Try placing squirrel feeders far away from your fall display to encourage them to snack on nuts and seeds elsewhere. "The idea is that they will have their fill of the good stuff and not care about those pumpkins and gourds," says Erin Schanen, Troy-Bilt's brand gardening expert and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog and YouTube channel. "This approach probably works better in areas with a small squirrel population."

Display Decoys

Setting up decoys that mimic the appearance of predators like owls, hawks, and snakes can help to ward off squirrels and other rodents. "Motion censored decoys can provide an extra layer of safety in outsmarting the squirrels," says Christakes. Additionally, some people find that reflective pinwheels and wildlife tape are effective. "These need to be moved regularly or the squirrels get used to them—and start dining on the pumpkins," says Myers.

Set Up Motion Activated Lights

When used alongside other decoys, motion activated lights can be used to startle the rodents because it gives the impression of human activity, says Christakes. But keep in mind that many squirrels are used to human activities, so it's ideal to monitor your setup to ensure your method is working, says Myers.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles