Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away (Will They Work?)

Squirrels can be pesky creatures, and not only can they wreak havoc on your yard, but also on your home’s foundation.

Preventing these critters from causing damage can be challenging, but did you ever try using your leftover coffee grounds to deter squirrels? 

Many sources say that using coffee grounds is an effective way to deter squirrels. So do coffee grounds keep squirrels away? Find out here in this complete guide.  

As it turns out, squirrels hate coffee grounds! More specifically, squirrels hate the smell, and for this reason, using coffee grounds (especially those with a strong odor) can be useful for deterring squirrels from your yard.[1]

However, coffee grounds alone may not be enough, and you may have to call for additional help from a local pest removal company. 

squirrel on ledge

So to answer "do coffee grounds keep squirrels away?" the answer is yes. Used coffee grounds can help to minimize a squirrel infestation, or help by keeping squirrels from the area altogether. 


Why Use Coffee Grounds As A Deterrence? 

Now that you know that coffee grounds keep squirrels away, the next question is, why use them? There are many different recommended methods for getting rid of squirrels (more on that later), so why use coffee grounds as your go-to method for keeping squirrels away? Here are a few reasons:  

  • Inexpensive
    There’s a very good chance that your household drinks coffee and you already have leftover grounds at home, and you most likely discard the used coffee ground waste after your morning brew each day. If you simply use your coffee ground leftovers after they have been brewed, there will be no extra cost for your squirrel deterrent. Even if you do not currently drink coffee, you can purchase grounds from a store or local coffee shop for next to nothing.
  • Good Compost
    Fresh coffee grounds are an amazing addition to your garden as well as your compost pile. According to a post on composting from Oregon State University, “coffee grounds are about 2% nitrogen by volume. Grounds are not acidic; the acid in coffee is water-soluble so the acid is mostly in the coffee.[2] Coffee grounds are close to pH neutral (between 6.5 to 6.8 pH).” All of these are beneficial attributes for keeping your soil healthy.
  • Good Smell
    Most of us can agree that coffee grounds smell pleasant, and there’s no denying that coffee odors are a lot better than many other common squirrel deterrents. Most people won’t be complaining about the faint smell of coffee around the bird feeders in their gardens!
  • Deterrent For Other Animals
    Coffee grounds not only repel squirrels but other pesky critters as well. So whether you're trying to minimize the number of small chipmunks or large deer (read our article about deer and coffee grounds) in your yard, there's a chance that coffee grounds can help. 

How To Use Coffee Grounds To Deter Squirrels 

Before dumping a whole tin of coffee grounds around the bird feeders in your yard, there are a few things you should know about how to properly use them as a squirrel deterrent. 

You can use either fresh or used coffee grounds, and it doesn’t matter if it’s regular or decaf, light or dark roasted, etc. You can use your own or ask local coffee shops in case who might give you some used coffee grounds.

Since coffee grounds degrade and are only a temporary solution to keep squirrels away, it’s best to use them frequently if you’re dealing with a constant squirrel problem. 

As well as repelling squirrels, they work as a natural pesticide for both insects and animals, but only if you use them regularly and in the right way. 

When scattering the grounds in your yard, the main thing to remember is that squirrels will avoid the areas that smell of coffee. But that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with the amount of coffee you use to keep squirrels away.

It’s best to layer the ground or potted plants with ½” to 1” of coffee to keep squirrels away; anything more than this can attract too much water and lead to a mold problem, which can be harmful to plants and animals. 

Focus on areas that squirrels like to spend the most time in, like around a bird feeder or trees that produce nuts. Start out by spreading coffee in your yard 1x per week, and increase it to once every few days if you notice the problem persisting.  

old coffee grounds on wood

Disadvantages Of Using Coffee Grounds 

As is the case with any pest control method, there are a few minor drawbacks to using coffee grounds to keep squirrels away. 

First off, this is only a temporary solution. You can’t expect to scatter coffee grounds in your garden once and have squirrels gone forever.

If this is the method you opt for, then it’s best to keep up with it by regularly incorporating coffee into your yard or garden. Luckily, there’s not that much work involved, especially when you compare it to other squirrel repellent options.  

Another thing to be mindful of is that a large volume of coffee grounds can pose a danger to pets.

Coffee in large doses can cause caffeine toxicity in pets, and VCA says that “caffeine raises blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias, which can be dangerous. Pets may also lose muscle control and have tremors or seizures.”[3] 

If your pet roams around the yard, you may want to skip this deterrent method. If you do choose to use coffee, just make sure to layer the grounds in layers thinner than 1”, and keep an eye on your pets. 

coffee beans on pile of grains

Other Ways To Keep A Squirrel At Bay

There are several natural as well as chemical-based squirrel deterrents to choose from. While coffee is one of the easiest to use and most natural options, you may want to consider these methods as well:  

1. Sprays

There are several different sprays on the market that are designed to mimic the scent of squirrels’ natural predators.

Most of them are effective after you’ve sprayed the perimeter of your yard or squirrel-infested area, but similar to coffee, these can be toxic to animals and pets in large doses. 

2. Decoy Predators

Using a decoy predator, such as a statue of an owl or a hawk, can be a great defense against squirrels. If a squirrel sees an owl (even if it's a fake one), it probably won't stick around for very long. 

3. Ultrasonic Animal Repellent

Ultrasonic devices are non-toxic pest deterrents. Although they can be pricey, they work by emitting certain frequencies that squirrels and other animals aren’t fond of. Most of them even come with the option to adjust the frequency based on the pests you’re trying to target. 

4. Red Pepper Flakes

If you’re looking for another all-natural pesticide that works similarly to coffee grounds, you might consider using red pepper flakes.

Just like coffee, squirrels don’t like the smell of red pepper, mainly because of the capsaicin that it contains. Capsaicin serves as an irritant to squirrels, so they generally try to avoid it. 

5. Plants That Can Repel Squirrels

There are certain plants that squirrels dislike, such as Geraniums, Lily of the Valley, Daffodils, and Hyacinth. Adding garlic or onion plants to your garden can also be effective, but keep in mind that the squirrels will only avoid areas that are directly surrounding these plants.


Are Coffee Grounds Bad For Plants?

Coffee grounds work for deterring squirrels and other annoying animals, but does spreading coffee grounds in your garden harm the plant life? 

The general answer is no. Coffee grounds in your vegetable garden can actually help plants to grow because they're packed with rich nutrients and minerals that help your garden thrive.

Plus, when you spread coffee grounds over the soil surrounding plants you attract worms. This is good for the health of your soil, but also can attract birds to the area creating a healthier environment all round. 

However, there are a few plants with different garden soil preferences and can be negatively impacted by the acidity from the used grounds. These include:

  • Lavender
  • Orchids
  • Cacti
  • Geranium
  • Asparagus ferm
  • Italian Ryegrass

It's also important you don't spread coffee grounds too densely in vegetable gardens either. This can make the coffee grounds bad for the soil because water can't travel as easily, which doesn't let your plants thrive.


Common Questions About Squirrels & Coffee Grounds

What other animals can be deterred by coffee grounds? 

Hunker says that using coffee as a repellent can be effective for getting rid of many unwanted animals and insects, and that 

“the smell of the coffee repels snails, slugs and ants. You may also have success using coffee grounds to repel mammals, including cats, rabbits and deer.” 

When is the best time of day to put out coffee grounds? 

You can add coffee grounds to your yard or garden at any time of day or night, but it’s best to keep tabs on the weather forecast. Avoid putting them out before a big rainfall or windy weather; rain and wind can scatter them and render them useless. 

Do coffee grounds act as a natural pesticide? 

Yes. The NY Times says that caffeine is a naturally occurring insecticide.[4 

According to this source,

“caffeine and related compounds are potent, natural insecticides that help plants ward off damaging pests.” One researcher even says that “plants have developed certain defenses to protect themselves against insects, and we suspected that caffeine might have been present for that purpose - as a natural insecticide…”

Will coffee grounds hurt squirrels? 

As long as you use coffee grounds properly as a natural repellent, they should not cause any harm to squirrels. Squirrels simply don’t like the smell of coffee, so the most likely scenario when using them is that squirrels and other pests will stay away from the area.  

Can putting coffee grounds in window sills deter squirrels? 

Yes. Many people have potted plants in their window sills, so to keep squirrels away, try layering about ½” of grounds in the potting soil. Avoid thick layers, though; this can create mold that is harmful to plants. 


Conclusion

So to answer the question, do used coffee grounds deter squirrels? The answer is yes, coffee grounds keep squirrels away from your garden.

If you choose to use coffee grounds to keep squirrels away, just make sure to follow our tips on how to do so safely.  

References:

1. https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/grey-squirrel-deterrents/

2. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/soil-compost/coffee-grounds-composting

3. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/caffeine-toxicity-in-pets

4. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/07/us/caffeine-is-natural-insecticide-scientist-says.html