Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away? [Answered]

A squirrel being kept away by coffee grounds

Many homeowners consider using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away, but they’re not sure if it’s effective or not!

Below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about repelling squirrels with coffee grounds (and how to increase your chance of success).

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away?

Squirrels can be adorable and fun to observe from afar. But ask anyone dealing with a squirrel problem, and they’ll tell you that these critters can cause significant damage. They’re notorious for ruining gardens, digging up perfectly manicured lawns, and ruining bird feeders.

There are a variety of different methods you can try, but do coffee grounds keep squirrels away?

You’ll be happy to know that coffee grounds do a decent job of repelling squirrels.

Coffee is a readily available pantry staple that many people go through daily. Because it’s so cheap and easy to procure, it’s become the go-to for dealing with a wide range of pests.

For squirrels, the most offensive thing about coffee grounds is the smell. That aromatic java is the perfect way to start the day for humans. But for a squirrel with sensitive olfactory glands, it’s a nightmare.

For many small animals, coffee produces a bitter smell that overwhelms the senses. It’s too much for squirrels to handle, so they try to stay as far away from it as possible.

The Benefits Of Using Coffee Grounds To Repel Squirrels

There are a handful of reasons you might want to use coffee grounds to keep squirrels away.

The first is price and accessibility. Coffee is super easy to get your hands on. If you’re a coffee-lover, you probably go through tons of it. Chances are, you toss most of your grounds out after every brew.

Instead of doing that, you can collect it to deter squirrels. All you have to do is dump the used grounds in an airtight container. By the end of the week, you’ll have a decent supply ready for use. Best of all, your coffee-drinking habits will ensure you always have some grounds on hand.

Coffee grounds being used to repel squirrels

Another perk is its natural quality. Commercial repellents might utilize chemicals to keep squirrels away. That might not seem like a huge deal at first, but those chemicals can do a lot of damage to your property.

Not only can toxins kill plants and ruin your soil, but they can make your outdoor space uninhabitable thanks to fumes and foul odors. What’s the point of keeping squirrels out when you, your family, and your pets can’t use your backyard at all?

Coffee grounds are natural and safe to use to keep squirrels away. They smell far better than the chemical stuff, and you don’t have to worry about any ill effects.

In fact, coffee grounds can provide you with more benefits than you initially planned to gain. A big reason why so many people use coffee grounds is that it can keep other pests out and improve soil quality.

It’s not just squirrels who hate the smell of coffee. Deer, chipmunks, slugs, and many insects (like ants) will steer clear of it, too. So, you’re keeping many pests out with one method.

Expert Tip: As for your plants, coffee grounds are a typical fertilizer. Many gardeners will use it to lower the pH balance of the soil. It’s perfect for plants that like an acidic growing environment.

Coffee grounds contain many vital nutrients and minerals like nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and more. While not all plants will love the addition, it can do wonders to help some plants thrive!

How To Use Them

Using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away is pretty straightforward. The pungent smell will waft through the air and create a scent barrier squirrels will likely avoid.

To help you get the most out of this pest control method, stick to the following tips.

1. Collect Spent Coffee Grounds

Your first step is to collect the coffee grounds you can use to repel squirrels. The best course of action is to save the grounds after you brew coffee. Please keep them in an airtight container to prevent unaffected bugs from taking advantage. Opening the container daily to add more grounds should help inhibit mold growth.

After a few days of collection, you should have enough to start. 

2. Find The Perfect Placement

If you want to effectively use coffee grounds to keep squirrels away, you have to place them strategically. 

The goal is to create a scent barrier. A few coffee grounds sprinkled randomly throughout your yard isn’t going to cut it. The grounds need to be dense to produce a potent smell.

Focus on the areas where squirrels are most active. Maybe they like to hang out on a specific tree or dig in one location in your yard. In those cases, apply a thick layer of coffee grounds to the soil.

The layer should be about half an inch to an inch thick. That’s more than enough to get the smell going.

If the squirrels are causing issues around a particular object, you can apply grounds directly to it or near its base. For example, these rodents are notorious for trying to climb up bird feeder poles and other yard accessories.

Put a decent layer of coffee on the soil around the object. Make sure to go around the entire perimeter to ensure squirrels don’t have an opening to utilize. For good measure, plop a bit of coffee on top of the feeder (birds typically don’t mind).

But what about the garden?

Before applying the coffee grounds to your plants, ensure they can tolerate acidic soil. Coffee isn’t going to cause an extreme change. Adjusting soil pH takes a long time, so most plants will not suffer.

However, it’s better to be on the safe side if you plan to use coffee grounds to keep squirrels away for an extended period of time.

If you’re good to go, apply the same thick layer of coffee grounds to the soil. You want to go around the entire plant. At the very least, the grounds should extend several inches beyond the most accessible part of its perimeter.

Be extra careful with bushes or tall plants. Squirrels can sometimes avoid the coffee if there are low-hanging branches. To prevent that, expand the coffee ground layer to repel and deter nearby squirrels.

Don’t be afraid to add coffee grounds to potted plants as well. You can apply it to the plant’s base and around the pot’s perimeter for extra safety.

3. Mist Daily

The most important thing to remember is that dry coffee grounds aren’t as effective when it comes to keeping squirrels away. There’s a smell, but dried coffee isn’t as odorous as wet coffee.

Plus, dry coffee can blow away with the wind. For these reasons, you need to keep the coffee moist. Sprinkle it daily if you live in a hot climate. You might be able to get away with misting every other day if the humidity is high where you live. 

Check the moisture content frequently and adjust your misting schedule accordingly.

4. Replenish Frequently

Even with daily misting, frequent replenishing is a must. That’s the main downside of using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away. It doesn’t last long, and you must keep up with the coffee to maintain efficiency.

The good news is that you’ll have no problem procuring the coffee if you drink it daily. Simply keep a container of it, and you can easily add more to those key placement spots every few days.

Expert Tip: Coffee grounds should last a few days up to a week, depending on the weather. You’ll need to replenish more frequently if it rains a lot to make up for the coffee washed away.

The Best Coffee Grounds To Use

It doesn’t matter what type of coffee you use. Whether you drink regular, bold, or decaf, it all works!

Drip-style coffee in filters is the easiest to collect. However, even single-cup coffee pods will do. To get the used coffee, you must cut into the foil, scoop out the grounds, and discard the rest.

The only requirement for using coffee grounds as a squirrel deterrent is to make sure it’s used. As mentioned earlier, dry coffee isn’t super effective. So driving to the store and buying a cheap coffee bag won’t work either. You have to brew it first!

If you’re a coffee drinker, that should be no problem. But what if you’re not? In that case, try visiting a local coffee shop. Many will give it to you for free. It always ends up in the dumpster anyways, so many are more than willing to give it away to composters, gardeners, and homeowners like you.

A Few Alternatives To Coffee Grounds

Not sure if using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away is the right method for you? While effective, it’s not the only option to repel squirrels. Here are a few suitable alternatives to consider.

Aromatic Plants

If you’re not a fan of coffee grounds, one of the best ways to keep squirrels out of your garden is to plant aromatic cultivars. Anything with a strong odor will work. The best choices are garlic, onion, geraniums, Daffodils, and many aromatic herbs.

Consider planting those aromatic plants in pots so that you can move them around strategically and stay one step ahead of the squirrels.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is another fantastic option. Sprinkle powdered pepper seasoning or flakes on the soil. You can even put it on plant leaves without worrying about ill effects.

Repellent Spray

Commercial repellents are available. As mentioned earlier, many will have chemicals. However, plenty of natural products with aromatic essential oils are available as well. Use those, and you should be able to keep squirrels out without the chemical mess.

Deterrent Devices

If you want to go high-tech, you can use deterring gadgets. There are plenty of ultrasonic systems and motion-activated sprinklers available. When the sensors detect a squirrel, they’ll make noise or spray water to scare the critters off.

Predator Urine Or Decoys

Finally, you can use fake predators. Some homeowners see success with decoy models of owls and other common predator animals. Alternatively, you can create a spray using fox urine to make the squirrels think your yard is unsafe.


Using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away is a perfectly suitable option (as long as you do it right). For anyone who prefers natural and safe forms of pest control, this is a great place to start!

If you have any questions about deterring squirrels with coffee grounds, send us a message. We’ll help you out!

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