Do Squirrels Eat Leaves? (On Trees or Off Lawns)


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Although squirrels can be incredibly adorable, they can sometimes leave a bit of a mess in your backyard.

It may not be surprising to see them getting into fruits or vegetables, but if you begin to see bite marks on leaves, it may get you thinking, do squirrels really eat leaves?

Squirrels eating leaves and tree bark
Squirrels eat leaves

Squirrels are omnivores, so they eat leaves, grass, fruits, seedlings, and small animals. They may also collect leaves to use for constructing their nests since leaves can act as good insulation. When they forage for food, squirrels will also eat other tree materials such as tender bark and branches.

Being able to eat leaves means that squirrels may damage some of your precious plants, especially during spring or the months leading up to winter.

To help you understand and minimize the impact of squirrels in your yard, let’s take a closer look at squirrel behavior and solutions to repel them.

Do squirrels eat leaves? (On trees or off lawns)

Squirrels are mammals, and there are 200+ species of squirrel worldwide.

They have strong front teeth, and you often see squirrels jumping and moving gracefully between trees.

In this section, let’s look at squirrels in detail and how you can spot signs of them on your property.

Introduction to Squirrels

Being omnivores, squirrels can consume both animals and plants as part of their regular diets.

Squirrels omnivores
Squirrels are omnivores

Like humans, they also have preferences regarding the plants they eat.

For example, squirrels enjoy consuming:

  • sunflower seeds in sunflower plants
  • hosta plants
  • hydrangeas
  • hibiscus plants

Squirrels tend to prefer younger plants and stalks in comparison to those that are mature.

More immature plants are tender, and while squirrel teeth can be strong, softer plants seem to be easier and more enjoyable to eat.

Don’t Forget – If you have trees in your yard, it can also attract squirrels. Squirrels love eating bark, and specific trees are more attractive due to certain properties.

One tree type that squirrels flock to is the oak tree since oaks have a higher caloric value that squirrels enjoy.

Other types include sycamore, pine, and sweet chestnut trees.

Signs of Squirrels in Your Yard

squirrelsand dog

As we know, when squirrels collect food, they can destroy parts of your garden that you work so hard to upkeep.

Luckily For You – It’s not too difficult to tell if you have a squirrel infestation. You can look for telltale signs if you suspect a squirrel has been wreaking some havoc in your yard. One is the presence of small yet noticeable holes in planting areas.

Squirrels can dig up small holes in the ground to plant their food store, ruining the ground. 

Another sign of squirrels in your garden is the lack of bark on trees.

Since squirrels eat bark, they may strip the bark off of their favorite trees, making your trees look patchy.

Squirrels can also knock over bird feeders and damage some other garden items.

When Are Squirrels More Active?

Some studies suggest that squirrels tend to become more of a bother to people during spring and autumn.

Grey squirrels do not hibernate, meaning that you may be able to spot them during any month.

However, they also tend to be less active during the winter months since the cold can encourage them to sleep for longer periods.

Keeping Squirrels Out of Your Lawn

Squirrel eat Gladiolus Bulbs
Hungry squirrel

Although squirrels can be charming creatures, it isn’t so much fun if they begin biting and chewing away leaves from your yard.

Fortunately, there are several ways to deter squirrels from picking at the leaves and plants

Plant Covers

One popular method of preventing wild squirrels from getting into plants is to shield up the plants using a breathable cover.

Depending on the size of the plant or the area you want to protect, you may be able to use a cage of some sort.

If you use a cage, make sure that it is small enough for the squirrel not to be able to get through.

Common types of cages to protect plants from wildlife include hardware cloth and chicken wire.

However, if you choose this method, it can have a (potentially negative) impact on how your garden looks. 

Remove Things That Attract Squirrels

squirrel will take food

One of the first steps you could take to remove squirrels from your yard is to remove as many things as possible that can attract them.

Clean up your yard and remove any fallen nuts, berries, and other things that may draw in squirrels.

Additionally – Make sure to close your bins tightly to prevent them from tearing through the plastic bags.

Distraction Tactics

One way to prevent squirrels from destroying certain plants and areas in your yard is to set up a ‘food station’ in an isolated section.

Add items that squirrels enjoy eating, including sunflower seeds and acorns to only that area.

You may also want to consider adding a small bowl of water, which may distract them from eating your other plants.

Bear in mind that setting up a food station can attract other small creatures such as birds.

You should also be aware that someone needs to refill the station periodically to continue preventing animals from wanting to get near your other plants.


You can concoct a natural repellant to deter squirrels from even entering your garden in the first place.

Peppermint oil is great bird deterrent
Peppermint oil

There are certain liquids or mixtures that many people state works to get rid of squirrels.

Two common repellants are vinegar and peppermint oil.

Steps to Making the Repellant:

  • Step 1: Mix together an equal amount of vinegar and peppermint oil into a bowl. Continue mixing for 30 seconds.
  • Step 2: Transfer the mixture into a medium-sized spray bottle and shake well before you use it.
  • Step 3: Spray the mixture across your lawn. Do not spray it onto actual produce, plants, or flowers. Make sure also to be aware of where you are spraying as it can potentially get into your eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

squirrels protecting its home

Why and How Do Squirrels Damage My Lawn?

Squirrels can cause some damage to your lawn while they are searching for food or materials for their nests.

Though it may not be too noticeable at the beginning, they can poke holes into specific areas and even damage insulation materials, which can be expensive to fix.

How to Prevent Squirrels From Eating Grass on Your Lawn?

There are several ways to prevent squirrels from eating glass, such as making or buying a squirrel repellent.

Squirrel eating in a garden
Garden Squirrel

An example of a natural repellant is a combination of garlic pepper and cayenne pepper.

You can also try to remove sources of squirrel food that you can by cleaning up your garden and removing nuts, berries, and more from the ground.

Motion-activated water sprayers can also help. Read more here!

What Are the Benefits of Squirrels?

Though squirrels can damage your yard, certain benefits come from having them around.

One such benefit is that squirrels play an essential role in the local ecosystem, dispersing seeds and nuts that grow and become new and tender plants or trees. 


Since we know now that the answer to “Do squirrels eat leaves? ( On trees or off lawns )” is yes, it may be prudent for you to start protecting the plants in your garden from squirrels.

Use the different types of deterrents above to keep squirrels away from your garden and ensure that the terrain appears as beautiful as you intend it to look.

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