Keep Chipmunks Out of Your Garden

My Garden Life
June 21, 2021
Table of Contents
Oh, they’re cute alright – those chipmunks chattering and cavorting around your yard. But their antics can also cause damage, especially when they get their little teeth into your bulbs, seedlings or homegrown fruits.
Here are a few ideas for getting the tiny pests out of your plantings, without doing them any harm:

1. Get Rid of Chipmunks’ Habitat

chipmunk sitting on top of a brush pile

Chipmunks live in burrows in protected areas near the forest’s edge and their food sources. Keep wood and brush piles away from your garden or anywhere else you don’t want chipmunks. Watch out for low shrubs or rockpiles, anywhere a chipmunk might hide its underground home. And try to have some open space between wooded areas and your garden beds. Also, remember, wherever there are bird feeders, there are spilled seeds, and wherever there are spilled seeds, there are chipmunks.

2. Stop Chipmunks from Digging in the Garden

chipmunk digging up crocus bulbs in the garden

Use a 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth buried two feet below your flower beds. For bulbs, build a box of chicken wire about eight inches tall and dig a hole for it in your garden. Place the bulbs in the bottom of the hole, backfill with soil and compost, then apply a layer of mulch.

3. Trap Chipmunks and Take Them Away

chipmunk in a metal trap

Buy humane wild animal traps at garden centers and online cheaply. Bait the trap with nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds or raisins. Don’t arm the trap for several days, until you know the chipmunk is coming to feed regularly. After arming it, check the trap often and be prepared to catch other hungry critters. Transport the chipmunks to another part of your own property (the transport of wild animals off your property is illegal in many states). Always be careful when releasing any wild animal from the trap.

4. Deter Chipmunks with Non-toxic Repellants

spraying garden plants with a repellent to keep chipmunks away

Chipmunks do not like the smell of ammonia, soap, or castor oil. Spraying a liquid version of any of these in the area out of which you wish to keep the critters is one option. Or used crushed garlic, chopped hot peppers, or a combination steeped in a cup of hot, soapy water. Strain the mixture and spray it on the plants the chipmunks are damaging.
One more idea: If you design a dog-friendly garden, you’ll find the chipmunks moving out about the time your pets move in – a win-win!

black lab puppy relaxing in the grass


  1. Teri Arends

    I want to keep chipmunks from getting into the corn we put out for our turkeys and deer. Chipmunks collect the corn and store it in our cars.

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Teri,
      A large part of a chipmunk’s life is spent gathering and hoarding seeds, berries, and fungi to create a food stash to survive the winter. It’s difficult to imagine any way you can offer corn seed to large animals, like turkeys and deer, and still prevent smaller animals like chipmunks and mice from accessing it.

      You might want to consult someone who services vehicles to learn if there are options for keeping rodents out of your car.

      I experimented with making sachets filled with whole cloves, cinnamon powder, and peppermint oil to repel chipmunks and mice that store acorns in my detached garage. I placed a sachet in every spot I found acorn stashes and any openings large enough for a mouse or chipmunk to enter the garage. The powerful scents successfully repelled them this past winter. I’m going to make fresh sachets to replace the old ones in the fall and see if the mice and chipmunks get used to the scents and ignore them, or will it continue to deter them from creating their food stashes in my garage? Perhaps there is something similar you could try with your car, but I will caution that you don’t want to use any scented sprays, oils, or dried plant materials inside your car that have a fragrance that you can’t tolerate. I’m not a big fan of the smell of cloves and the scent is still quite strong in my garage. (Tip: I used refillable tea bags to contain the contents of the sachets but you could also use cheesecloth or lightweight fabric.)


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