Peppermint oil: A rather useless squirrel deterrent

Damn squirrels have dug up the coleus plants in the three bottom pots repeatedly!

I curse caterpillars aloud. I’ve been known to chase turkeys off the lawn while flailing wildly and I have no compunction against yelling at grub-hunting birds (with appropriate “GO AWAY” hand motions, of course).

I’m a very passionate gardener mostly because I’m not that good at it and having critters destroy my green thumb efforts is infuriating! But squirrels. I had no idea what havoc those rats with fluffy tails could wreak on a garden.

Having not had a finished backyard until this last year, I never paid attention to the squirrels. They were just the innocuous grey things running up and down the oak trees every 10 minutes. Now I know them as the bird feeder dumping, hole digging, plant murderers that they are. And in the height of their prepare-for-winter digging/burying, I set out to destroy them. (Okay, really, just keep them out of my plants.)

There used to be a coleus plant in here.

After some discouraging sleuthing–no magic bullets in squirrel maintenance unless you’re willing to shoot or poison, which I’m not!–I read the little buggers don’t enjoy the smell of peppermint. So following an online recipe, I mixed together some peppermint oil, soaked barked and wood pieces in it, and put peppermint bark (no not that kind) all around.

Turns out it did not one bit of good. Maybe they held their noses. Maybe my extract wasn’t strong enough. I don’t know. But I wanted to warn others attempting squirrel irritation- This trick doesn’t work.

I’m going to try a cayenne mixture next and I will report back!


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