If you have found an animal digging holes in your garden, you might be surprised to discover it is a raccoon. Raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your lawn so in this article we will tell you the best ways to stop them.
Raccoons dig lawns to feed on the grubs in your lawn. The most effective method to stop raccoons from digging is to reduce the number of grubs in the soil. Beneficial nematodes will kill the larvae of cockchafer beetles, ants, fleas, moths, beetles, flies, weevils, and other pests that raccoons feed on.
My friend contacted me as their garden had recently been dug up by raccoons so I told him how to get rid of them.
How To Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Yard
Raccoons are nocturnal and can cause severe damage to your lawn at night as they search for food. One of the best and most effective ways of keeping raccoons from damaging your lawn is to remove the underlying cause.
Raccoons dig lawns to get to the larvae of cockchafer beetles, ants, fleas, and moths inside the lawn and soil. Reduce the number of grubs using beneficial nematodes such as Scotts GrubEx1. Once the grubs and insects have been removed, you need to take further action to ensure raccoons will not return.
I also use an ultrasonic animal repeller in my garden. I have had great success in keeping other animals away from my garden using these as well. Because I live in a rural area, I often see raccoons. Coyote urine can be a good deterrent in rural areas, although many people have said this doesn’t work as well in urban areas.
Removing food sources, such as pet food left outside, will stop raccoons from returning, as will purchasing a raccoon-proof bird feeder.
How To Get Rid Of Raccoons
Remove Grubs From Your Lawn
Raccoons are digging up your turf for food. Grubs are an easy food source and you must limit how many are on your property. The only way to reduce raccoons digging up your property is to buy a grub killer. I have started using Scotts GrubEx1. It lasts all season with one application and is 100% organic to give you a healthy lawn.
Use the grub killer in the warmer summer and fall months for the best coverage. Grub killer only works on young larvae, so you must use it after the new eggs have hatched. I don’t know of any nematodes that can kill larvae in colder temperatures, even in Spring.
I usually treat my grass in August or September and have had great success keeping raccoons away for the last few years.
- Scotts GrubEx1 Season Long Grub Killer can help prevent turf damage by killing grubs when they are young
- One application of this lawn care treatment kills and prevents grubs for up to 4 months
- This grub killer also controls caterpillars (armyworm), chinchbugs, May/June beetles, and more (as listed), and can help control Japanese beetle infestations when applied annually
- Apply this granular insecticide to a dry lawn in the spring or early summer to kill grubs as they develop before they cause damage to your lawn
- One 28.7 lb. bag of Scotts GrubEx1 Season Long Grub Killer covers 10,000 sq. ft.
Raccoons are scavengers and are attracted to food sources. Use raccoon-proof trash cans or secure your garbage cans with bungee cords or other locking mechanisms. Ensure all outdoor garbage is tightly sealed.
Motion-Activated Lights And Sprinklers
Install motion-activated lights in your yard. Raccoons are nocturnal and are often discouraged by bright lights.
You can consider using a motion-activated water sprinkler to act as a deterrent to scare them away. Raccoons and other animals are afraid of the sudden movement and spray of the water. I haven’t used one, but my friend loves it. While some people say they don’t work once the raccoons get used to them, raccoons will quickly move on to an easier target if you are in an urban area. You can find it on Amazon here.
- HUMANELY DETERS ANIMALS: Keeps animals out of plants, yards and gardens using a harmless spray of water
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Consider using natural or commercial repellents, such as ammonia-soaked rags or commercially available raccoon repellent sprays. Apply these in areas where raccoons frequent.
I use a solar-powered flashing light and ultrasonic animal repeller in my garden. They are humane, use no chemicals, and the one I use is waterproof with a range of up to 20 feet. I recommend this solar animal repeller, but they are all quite similar.
- ADJUSTABLE SENSITIVITY & MODE: There are two knots for you to adjust the mode and sensitivity to a right condition you need.
- 2 WAYS FOR POWER SUPPLY: Phosooy ultrasonic animal repeller is equipped with solar panel for power supply, and it also supports being charged with USB cable. When device is in charging, the red indicator will light up, and then turns to green after fully charged. Please place the device where the solar panel can get maximum exposure to sunlight.
- HARMLESS & EFFECIENT: The effective working distance is 26-33ft with 110 degree effective range.
- PERFECT FOR OUTDOOR USE: The device works well on rainy days with fine drizzling rain owing to its IP44 waterproof grade, and is great ideal to be mounted on the wall or inserted into ground with the spikes.
Installing a fence around your lawn can be effective. Ensure the fence is buried a few inches underground to prevent digging.
Raccoons do not like electric fences, so if you have a problem with raccoons flipping your lawn for an easy meal, then this may be the answer. A stretch of the electric fence above 10 inches should be enough to keep raccoons from digging holes in your yard.
Radio or Noise
Some people have found success by placing a radio or noise-making device near their garden or lawn. The constant noise can deter raccoons.
Remove Water Sources
Raccoons need water as well. Remove or secure any water sources in your yard, like bird baths or pet water dishes.
If the problem persists, consider using live traps. Consult with your local wildlife authorities or animal control for guidance on trapping and relocating raccoons. Be sure to check local laws and regulations regarding this.
Coyote or Wolf Urine
Coyote or wolf urine is excellent at keeping raccoons away. As natural predators, raccoons will keep far away from the smell of a coyote or wolf. However, this only works in areas where coyotes prey on raccoons. If raccoons don’t know the usual scent of a coyote or wolf, they won’t recognize their smell, and it won’t keep them away.
If you are used to seeing coyotes around your property, then coyote urine is a great deterrent.
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Netting or Chicken Wire
Raccoons want an easy meal, and putting bird netting or chicken wire over the lawn can make them move onto a more leisurely meal in the neighborhood. If you use bird netting, you can leave it on the property, but if you use chicken wire, it is best to move it every few days so it doesn’t grow into the property.
Why Do Raccoons Dig Up My Lawn?
Raccoons can destroy plants in your garden and dig up your turf. The main reason why they invade your yard is in search of food.
They will dig up your lawn, looking for insects and larvae to eat. They usually target cockchafer larvae so you may notice small individual holes in your yard.
Raccoons are nocturnal and will only dig at night. This may mean that it can be a little difficult for you to spot them digging holes in your lawn.
Other animals that may dig holes in your lawn include skunks and squirrels. Skunks will drill holes in your yard, and squirrels will dig up your yard to bury food.
How To Tell You Have A Grub Problem
Some of the most common symptoms of grubs in your lawn will be drying grass, especially two to three inches in diameter, and the appearance of brown spots in the yard.
The grubs have brown heads and white or grey bodies. They are always an attraction to raccoons, which can end up causing a lot of damage to your lawn.
They are likely to destroy grass around these areas, which means you have to do something to stop the raccoons from coming around your home.
Most animals that dig up your grass, including raccoons, will look for worms, insects, and grubs. If animals are digging up your property, you most likely have a grub problem.
A healthy lawn always has a certain number of grubs. A property can host up to 5 grubs in every square foot. For example, a property of 5,000 square feet can be home to up to 25,000 grubs.
Grubs are good for the garden as long as there aren’t too many. However, you can take some measures that will minimize the numbers significantly. Experts advise that killing all the grubs is very difficult, even if you use harsh chemicals.
The best action to minimize larvae in the lawn is to use beneficial nematodes such as Scotts GrubEx1.
Which Animal Is Digging?
The first way to determine the animals is to observe the type of holes. Moles will create tunnels and mounds, but raccoons will flip over whole sections of turf. Raccoons are looking for food, while moles are looking for food and shelter. Skunks will dig neat shallow holes.
Many animals can cause the same problem. However, if you suspect raccoons are responsible, you must do something about it. Many gardeners will have an issue with these animals unless something is done to reduce the number of grubs.
What Scents Will Keep Raccoons Away?
Raccoons have an excellent sense of smell to find food. While certain smells will attract raccoons to your garden, it also means that there are scents around they don’t like.
Raccoons don’t like strong smells such as peppermint, onions, garlic, chilis, and even natural predator scents such as coyote or wolf urine. However, these natural scents seem to work better in rural areas.
Another strong smell that raccoons don’t like is coffee. Once you have finished your coffee for the day, throwing the coffee grounds in your garden may keep raccoons away.
How To Make Homemade Raccoon Repellent
There are several different homemade raccoon repellents you can make yourself. If you don’t like the smell of hot sauce or ammonia, you can try vinegar or Epsom salts. If you have pets, do not use these.
- Mix a gallon of water with a bottle of hot sauce or cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of dishwashing soap.
- Spray the mixture around garbage bins, the perimeter of your property, and any entry points.
- Ammonia can be placed in small open jars around the perimeter of your property and around the garbage.
- Rags can be dipped into ammonia and placed around the property.
- Apple cider vinegar can be placed around the perimeter, and the garbage in small jars.
- Dip rags into apple cider vinegar and place them around the entry points.
- Epsom salts can be spread around your garden to deter raccoons.
- Epsom salts also make excellent fertilizer for your yard.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.