If squirrels are getting into your garden, keep them away with a homemade pepper spray. Take a cup of your favorite hot sauce, add a spoonful of cayenne pepper and a capful of Murphy’s Oil Soap, and mix together. Spray the mixture in whatever areas you want the squirrels to steer clear of, like the borders of your garden. Squirrels don’t like the texture or the smell, and will stay away.
Keep Squirrels Away From Birdfeeders
Wondering how to keep a squirrel off a birdfeeder? If it’s held up by a pole or metal arm, grease it up with petroleum jelly. Squirrels can’t hold on with the slippery substance and won’t be able to reach the birdseed.
Related: How to Keep Birds Away From Your Patio, Pool, and Garden
Protect Your Grill
Make sure squirrels and other rodents don’t chew through the rubber pipeline that connects your propane tank with your grill—reinforce the entire thing with duct tape by applying duct tape in rings around it. This is a good idea for anything else in your yard made out of rubber, as this is a favorite chew toy of rodents!
Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden
Squirrels can be one of the trickiest garden pests to deal with. They chomp on flower bulbs and other leaves, dig up your favorite plants, and otherwise love to wreck your garden. Protect it by grating some Irish Spring soap around your plants. Squirrels can’t stand the smell of it and will stay away.
See also: How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard
Plant Mint to Repel Squirrels
Squirrels hate the aroma of mint, so plant mint (which grows easily) around gardens and trees that squirrels like to frequent. It smells great (at least, to you) and you can even pick it and use it in drinks like iced tea and mojitos.
Another Great Squirrel Repellent
If you’ve ever bitten into a shred of foil that had gotten stuck to a piece of candy, you know how unpleasant the sensation is. Rodents hate the feeling of foil between their teeth, too, so placing strips of foil in your garden mulch will help deter squirrels and some bugs. If squirrels are eating the bark of your tree, you can also wrap the trunk in foil.
For more ways to get rid of pests from all around the internet, check out our Bug and Pest Natural Remedies board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!
Whether it's improving your garden or making your patio BBQ-friendly, these clever tips will have you taking your space to the next level, all for practically nothing.
Beautiful Natural Spaces
1. Bring in the Birds Don’t throw out those net bags that onions and citrus fruits come in! In early spring, fill them with anything that might appeal to nest-building birds: pet hair, human hair, lint, plant clippings. Then tie off the bag and hang so birds can help themselves and nest nearby. You can use the same bags to serve suet to your feathered friends in the winter.
2. DIY Birdbath Want to try a birdbath but don’t want the expense and commitment of those heavy commercial types? Simply use a sturdy tomato cage as your base, topped with a round drainage tray for potted plants. It’s easy to move and very affordable! Place some colorful marbles or pebbles in the tray before adding water—the brighter the color, the better to attract birds.
3. Get Reddy for Hummingbirds These fast fliers are attracted to red. But if your garden color scheme is less fire engine and more pastel, you can fake it. Just wire some red silk flowers around the garden until they discover nectar-filled flowers you’ve offered in other colors.
4. Make Your Own Nectar Don’t spend money on hummingbird nectar when it’s so simple to make! Just dissolve 1 part sugar in 3 parts water, then add a few drops of orange extract or orange juice. Use it immediately, or keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
5. The Butterfly Water Cooler Butterflies like puddles to gather around and drink. Make a butterfly water station out of an old cookie sheet or big saucer lined with gravel. You can also “plant” an old mug up to its rim in the soil, and fill it with water when rainwater doesn’t keep it supplied.
6. Baby Your Garden Got some old baby gear in the basement or attic? Make your family wonder by getting it out! Then take it outside. Baby gates, spindle cribs, and even the metal springs from cribs make easy trellises you can train flowers or vegetable vines to climb.
7. Stones From a Tree Having a tree taken down? Put it to good use! Cut some “slices” (about 2 inches thick) to use as stepping-stones.
8. Mulch with Souvenirs Every beach vacation, we bring home more shells and stones than we can use for decoration around the house. So we now bring many into our outdoor spaces. They make perfect mulch and accents around plants, just like purchased pebbles from home centers (without the steep price)!
Outdoor Problems Solved!
9. A Sweet Concrete Cleaner Powdered lemonade mix can come to the rescue to help scrub away stains on your concrete! Simply add a few drops of water to the drink mix, just enough to form a paste. Apply the paste to a concrete stain and use a stiff scrub brush to scrub the area clean.
11. Create Your Own Luminarias Have empty tin cans you can repurpose? Fill them with water and freeze overnight. Once frozen solid, you can use a large nail and hammer to punch holes in a decorative design on the cans. Need a guide? Draw the design you want with a dry-erase marker that you can wipe off later. After the design is complete, simply let the water thaw, empty, and dry the can. Light a tea light inside for your own custom luminaria!
12. Color Swatch Your Lights White string lights can go from simple to sensational with a trip to the paint counter—or maybe even your junk drawer! Collect some paint swatch strips in fabulous, bright colors. Curl them into cylinders (with the color sides facing out) and secure with clear tape. Slip one sleeve over each bulb on your light string, and attach it to the wire with tape or a small binder clip. Magical mini lampshades for free!
13. Ladder Up Need more serving space while entertaining? Place plywood planks across the rungs of a stepladder. Runners can cover the plywood for a fancier look. Now you have a tiered serving station for food or drinks that tucks away again until the next time you need it!
14. Protect Those Drinks Keep bugs out of drinks by supplying cupcake liners. They easily slip over the tops of cans and glasses. And you can pop a straw through them if desired. Put a stack in a mason jar for a pretty display that you can label with the intended use.
15. Forget the Ice Replace the ice for your drink cooler, tub, or kiddie pool with frozen water balloons. To make them, fill the balloons two-thirds full and stick in the freezer. When the drinks are gone and the ice has melted at the end of the day, have fun!
16. Condiment Cleanup Repurpose inexpensive, clear soap dispenser pumps as condiment servers. You’ll upgrade your picnic table from plastic bottles, and make topping that burger or hotdog easier, with less mess.
17. S’more Solutions Is it feeling crowded around the fire, or are flames rising too high for kids to toast s’mores? Line terra-cotta pots with aluminum foil. Then add charcoal and light. These handy little cookers allow each person to have their own fire to toast marshmallows with ease. Sticking with one big fire but need to toast a lot of marshmallows for the hungry masses? Use a clean metal rake to fit them all over the fire at once.
Think two seasoned certified financial planners would have an easy time buying a house? Tony and Barbara Matheson would beg to differ.
In fall 2019, these empty nesters found themselves itching to downsize from their large rental in the ultraexpensive San Francisco Bay Area. Hoping to buy a reasonably priced house within walking distance of restaurants and other amenities, they set their sights on Sacramento, CA. Armed with a healthy income, solid credit history, and a deep knowledge of personal finances—plus they’d owned property before—they figured they would sail through the home-buying process.
Six months and three lost bidding wars later, they realized that Sacramento’s real estate market was far more cutthroat than they’d imagined.
In March, the Mathesons finally purchased a three-bedroom, one-bathroom 1926 Tudor on a tree-lined street. With the closing papers signed, they figured they were home-free—but COVID-19 was about to throw another curveball into the picture.
Here Tony shares their story, and his hard-won lessons for aspiring first-time home buyers and others who want to learn what buying real estate is really like today.
Location: Sacramento, CA House specs: 1,225 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms List price: $550,000 Price paid: $580,000
Why did you decide to move?
We’d been living in the Bay Area and were looking to downsize since both of our kids had moved out. We wanted to be near downtown Sacramento, close to restaurants, bars, museums, and coffee shops.
I’d think home buying would be a breeze for two finance pros. How did it go?
I was really surprised by how tough the market was. After five months touring homes, we made an offer on our first house. This house went into a bidding war; we had to raise our bid five times before tapping out.
Next, we fell in love with a second home. This time, we offered the sellers $30,000 over the asking price. The sellers had so many other bids, they never even bothered to counter our offer.
We found a third home, and once again bid over the asking price. But after five tries, we lost out again. It was heartbreaking.
How awful! Why do you think these homes sold to other buyers?
We came prepared with what most consider strong financials for making an offer on a single-family home: great credit scores, a significant down payment, pre-approval for a mortgage. We offered good earnest money and 15-day escrow, didn’t include an appraisal contingency, and probably had a few other bonuses to the seller that I’ve forgotten. So we were doing everything “right.”
What we were finding is that we were up against some other buyers who were making all-cash offers, sometimes $50,000 above the asking price. How does anyone compete with that?
So how did you finally get an offer accepted?
We were extremely fortunate that we had a great real estate agent who was able to find a home that hadn’t been listed yet. We could negotiate one on one with the seller without having to compete against multiple offers.
The sellers had planned to invest $30,000 to $40,000 on home improvements before putting it on the market. We offered to buy the house as is, without the improvements. After going back and forth a few times, the sellers took our offer.
What did you like about this house?
We knew within 5 seconds of walking into the house that this was the one. It was the perfect neighborhood. We were close to everything, within walking distance to plenty of bars and restaurants. The outdoor area is gorgeous. Beautiful trees surround our house, and the house is the perfect size for us.
So once your offer was accepted, what happened next?
The sellers weren’t prepared to move immediately. They needed time to prepare. So we rented the house back to the sellers for a month after closing. We closed on Valentine’s Day, but we didn’t move in until mid-March.
Little did we know what was about to happen.
March is when the coronavirus really hit. What was it like moving during that time?
It was difficult and terrifying in the beginning. We moved in ourselves without hiring movers. Then, after we moved in, it was quite an adjustment. Simple things like calling an electrician or completing other minor home projects were enormously difficult.
Did you make any renovations to your home?
We put $10,000 to $12,000 into the house so far. The major issue after moving in was electricity—it needed to be completely reconfigured. For example, the second bedroom, which became my office, only had two plugs. Between my monitors for work, computers, Peloton, cellphones, and other devices, I needed 12 plugs. We also wanted to put in a tankless water heater for more space, and install a security system.
How did quarantine affect these repairs?
It was horrible. We couldn’t get anyone to come out to do any work for at least three months. For the first month, no one was booking. Then, when we could finally get through, the businesses were overwhelmed with requests.
What was it like when you finally settled in?
It was exhilarating, exciting, and weird. Exhilarating because we got the house we wanted. Exciting because we were beginning a new phase in our lives. And weird because we moved in at the beginning of the pandemic. We wanted to have a housewarming party, but of course, we couldn’t.
What is your advice for aspiring home buyers?
Even if your finances are completely buttoned up, be prepared that buying a house may be a difficult and even painful process.
Emotionally it does get hard. As much as you try not to get attached to a house during the negotiation process, you can’t help it. And there is a competitive drive that kicks in when you are in a bidding war with others. It’s draining.
Still, in the end, knowing that you’ve overcome challenges along the way just makes you more appreciative of the reward at the end. We have a place to call home amidst all this craziness. It’s all worth it.