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If you have found an animal digging holes in your garden, you might be surprised to discover it is a skunk. Skunks can cause a lot of damage to your lawn so in this article we will tell you the best ways to stop them.

Skunks dig lawns to feed on the grubs in your lawn. The most effective method to stop skunks 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 skunks feed on.

How to stop skunks from digging infographic

How To Keep Skunks Out Of Your Yard

Skunks 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 skunks from damaging your lawn is to remove the underlying cause. 

Skunks 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 skunks 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 skunks. 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 skunks from returning.

Are crows digging up your lawn? Find out why and what to do about it here

10 Tips To Keep Skunks Out Of Your Yard

1. Remove Grubs From Your Lawn

Skunks 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 skunks 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 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 skunks away for the last few years.

Scotts GrubEx1 Season Long Grub Killer, Protects Lawns Up to 4 Months, 10,000 sq. ft., 28.7 lbs
  • 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.
Skunk in garden

2. Secure Garbage

Skunks are scavengers and are attracted to food sources. Use animal-proof trash cans or secure your garbage cans with bungee cords or other locking mechanisms. Ensure all outdoor garbage is tightly sealed.

3. Motion-Activated Lights And Sprinklers

Install motion-activated lights in your yard. Skunks 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. Skunks 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 skunks get used to them, skunks will quickly move on to an easier target if you are in an urban area. You can find it on Amazon here.

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler with Day & Night Detection Modes,Black
  • HUMANELY DETERS ANIMALS: Keeps animals out of plants, yards and gardens using a harmless spray of water
  • UNIQUE DAY AND NIGHT DETECTION: The only deterrent sprinkler on the market with options for day only, night only, or 24 hour protection, giving you the flexibility to ensure the Yard Enforcer only activates when you need it
  • STABLE DESIGN: Simply press spike into soil or turf to firmly hold the Yard Enforcer in place.
  • SAVE WATER AND BATTERY LIFE: Includes sensing technology for optimum water and battery conservation; get over 7,500 activation cycles on just 4 AA alkaline batteries and as little as 2 cups of water per activation.
  • INTELLIGENT SENSING TECHNOLOGY: Sensing technology learns the difference between trees and animals, so your water will not activate every time the wind blows.

4. Use Repellents

Consider using natural or commercial repellents, such as ammonia-soaked rags or commercially available skunk repellent sprays. Apply these in areas where skunks 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.

Phosooy Ultrasonic Animal Repeller, 2 Packs Waterproof Solar Animal Deterrent Device Motion Activated to Repel Cats, Dogs, Squirrel, Rats, Skunks, Raccoons & Deer
  • 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.

5. Fencing

Installing a fence around your lawn can be effective. Ensure the fence is buried a few inches underground to prevent digging.

Skunks do not like electric fences, so if you have a problem with skunks

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 skunks from digging holes in your yard.

6. 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 skunks.

7. Remove Water Sources

Skunks need water to live. Remove or secure any water sources in your yard, like bird baths or pet water dishes.

8. Live Traps

If the problem persists, consider using live traps. Consult with your local wildlife authorities or animal control for guidance on trapping and relocating skunks. Be sure to check local laws and regulations regarding this.

9. Coyote or Wolf Urine

Coyote or wolf urine is excellent at keeping skunks away. As natural predators, skunks will keep far away from the smell of a coyote or wolf. However, this only works in areas where coyotes prey on skunks. If skunks 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.

PredatorPee Original Fox Urine -Territorial Marking Scent-16oz Spray Bottle Combo with ScentTags
  • Harness the power of natures communication system from the original brand in the pee business, PredatorPee - Est. 1986.
  • PredatorPee Fox Urine creates the illusion that a fox is nearby.
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS: Package contains (1) 16oz PredatorPee Fox Urine - Territorial Marking Scent and 10 ScentTags to create a 120 pee-rimeter. Reapply urine about once a week or after a rain.

10. Netting or Chicken Wire

Skunks 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.

Wondering why skunks spray? Find out here

Skunk in garden

How To Make A Homemade Skunk Repellent

Creating a homemade skunk repellent can help deter these creatures from your garden. Here’s a simple recipe for a homemade skunk repellent:


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (or any hot pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dish soap
  • 1 gallon of water


  1. Chop the onion and jalapeño pepper finely.
  2. In a large pot, combine the chopped onion, jalapeño pepper, cayenne pepper, and a gallon of water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and let it cool.
  5. Strain the mixture into a spray bottle, removing any solid particles.
  6. Add one teaspoon of dish soap to the liquid and mix well. The soap helps the mixture adhere to surfaces.
  7. Spray this homemade skunk repellent around your garden, especially in areas where skunks are known to visit.

The strong smell and heat from the peppers should deter skunks. Reapply the spray after rain or as needed. Be cautious when using this mixture, as it can be quite spicy and may irritate your skin and eyes. Wear gloves and avoid touching your face while preparing and applying it.

How To Stop Skunks From Digging Your Lawn?

Skunks can cause some severe damage to your lawn as they search for food. If you are sure skunks are causing the damage, it is best to stop them. One of the best and most effective ways of keeping skunks from damaging your lawn is to take away the underlying cause.

By realizing they are after food growing inside the lawn and the soil, you can remove the cause. Reduce the number of grubs using beneficial nematodes such as Lawnbox grubout. Once the grubs have been removed, you also need to take other actions to ensure skunks will not return. 

Removing other food sources such as pet food left outside will stop skunks from returning, and purchasing a skunk-proof feeder may also help.

Why Do Skunks Dig Up My Lawn?

Skunks 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.

Skunks 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.

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 skunks, 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 skunks from coming around your home.

Most animals that dig up your grass, including skunks, 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.

Do you want to know if raccoons are dangerous? Find out here

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 skunks 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. 

The characteristic smell of the skunk is often the best way to know if skunks have been in your yard.

If you want to know which mustelids live in North America click here for an article I wrote

References And Further Reading

Skunk: The All-Animal of the Animal by Patricia Curtis

This book provides insights into skunk behavior and how to effectively deter them from your garden.

Natural Skunk Deterrents: A Guide to Keeping Skunks Away Without Using Harmful Chemicals by Henry Williams

Offers natural and environmentally friendly methods to prevent skunks from entering your garden.