How to Stop Raccoons From Digging Up Lawn (A Step-By-Step Guide 2021)

A common issue that many people face are the raccoons and skunks ravaging through their gardens.

I think we can all agree that this issue can be really discouraging when you’re putting in so much effort to maintain a beautiful garden.

But don’t fret, there is a solution to this problem!

Raccoons and skunks are attracted as the soils become warmer and the spring weather starts to creep up. Whilst we can’t physically stop the raccoons from coming, we can apply measures that can prevent the damage that they create.

Read on to follow a step-by-step guide on all the methods you can use to prevent raccoons and other unwanted pests from ruining your garden.

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So, Why Do Raccoons Dig Up Grass?

Raccoons have given themselves a notorious reputation as the main culprits of torn-up lawn, they forage for food and will stop at nothing to find it; they basically will eat anything from trash to pet food!

These nocturnal pests love to dig in your garden, looking for insects and plants to eat. Their main source of nutrition that they search for are larvae and grubs that live around one inch below ground level.

They use their paws to pull chunks of grass out, which is why you see lots of small holes scattered across your once beautiful lawn. Their search for grubs will sometimes leave small individual holes in your grass too.

raccoon in tree behind leaves

How to Stop The Raccoons

So, you’re at your wit’s end, one more raccoon away from paving your garden… but wait, there is a solution to this problem!

There are many ways in which you can try and stop animals from digging up your grass and whilst we can’t actually stop them from invading your garden, there are many ways in which we can prevent them!

Below is a list of tactics you can use to try and solve this raccoon problem.

1.Create an obstacle! Raccoons are lazy, they want easy access to their food and won’t try hard to get it! By creating an obstacle across your lawn such as netting, the raccoons will be discouraged to continue once they realize their efforts are for nothing!

Watch this video about the proper way you can lay a net across your lawn to effectively block the raccoons from gaining access to your grass, the best thing about this is that it can also prevent moles and skunks as well from potentially damaging your lawn!

2.Grubs are the issue, they’re the main source of food that the raccoons are after! One way to get rid of these grubs is by using Beneficial Nematodes.

This is a non-chemical method that is very effective in ridding grubs. These microscopic roundworms hunt for the ground-dwelling grubs and kill them, leaving none for the raccoons!

Worth noting, however, is that Nematodes only work on young larvae that hatch around late summer/ early fall. By springtime, the larvae are matured into grubs and by then it is too late as Nematodes don’t work on matured larvae.

As well as killing the grubs, Nematodes are also great in allowing your grass to develop healthy roots and a strong rooting system, making it harder for the raccoons to dig up!

Talk about a win-win!

3.If the grass has been dug up, as soon as you can, re-lay that patch of grass, water it and apply root-building fertilizer. The last thing you want on top of a raccoon problem is dead grass!

4.“Marking your territory” will also prevent raccoons from overrunning your garden.

Raccoons and other animals have a very sensitive sense of smell and can easily be turned away when they get a sense of something they don’t like.

You can mark your territory by either applying cayenne pepper or coyote urine to your grass, this will deter the raccoons from even attempting to dig your lawn.

Other smells that deter raccoons include onion, peppermint, garlic juice, cinnamon, and black pepper.

Be aware though, that this territory marking technique is not 100% effective and raccoons are very intelligent mammals and have learned to adapt very well to their surroundings!

5.Another obstacle-type deterrent is placing a sprinkler on your grass that is motion-activated. This will spray the raccoons and essentially frighten them away when they walk into the detected area.

This method, along with other obstacle type preventatives, is a great way to safely deter raccoons and other animals, it is humane and less invasive to your garden as well!

6.A long-term strategy that is probably the best method is by prepping your garden beforehand so to avoid the level of damage that the raccoons incur.

You want your lawn to be hard to pull up, so by looking after your lawn and by creating a deep and sturdy rooting system, you’re essentially deterring the raccoons because they are very lazy pests.

Aeration, proper maintenance, over-seeding, and proper watering techniques are all things you can do as long-term strategies to prevent the raccoons from pulling up your precious grass.

For great tips and tricks on how to keep your lawn in the best possible condition, read this article!

7.Other than smells, animals are very sensitive to noises too! There are many sound deterrents that you can use in your garden that are motion-activated too which will scare them away.

8.Raccoons and skunks are nocturnal animals, they do most of their damage at night. By getting motion-triggered strobe lights, these annoying little pests will be scared away by the bright lights!

raccoon in the garden

Products That You Can Use to Prevent Raccoons (and Other Pests)

There are many products on the market that advertise solutions to the raccoon problem, however, which ones ACTUALLY do what they say they do?

Well, don’t worry, read on to find a list of the best products that you can try today in your garden to stop our little furry friends from ruining your yard!

Motion-Triggered Strobe Lights

This clever device is a more humane way to deal with the issue of unwanted animals entering your garden.

Triggered by motion, this tool will set off strobe lights that essentially frighten away the animals. The great thing about this particular one is that it can flash the lights all night to deter night hunting from animals such as foxes, skunks, rabbits, and best of all raccoons!

This device is solar-powered and waterproof – a double whammy – and can be placed on a post at different heights based on the type of pest you’re suffering from.

All-Purpose Animal Repellent

All-Purpose Animal Repellent

As I said above, animals are SUPER sensitive to smells.

This all-purpose repellent will help to prevent raccoons and other animals from digging up your grass as it is essentially “marking your territory”.

When used and stored as directed, this repellent is safe on all plant types – even edible ones – and can last up to four weeks on the affected area!

Another added benefit is that whilst it deters the animals, it is safe for them as well as children, so you don’t have to worry about poisoning!

Many of the repellents that are used on one animal can also be used on others too, if you want a super in-depth guide on which repellent is best for your issue, find the article here!

Bird Netting on Your Grass

bird netting for garden

Creating obstacles that get in the way of the raccoon’s mission to dig is a great way to save your grass.

You can buy heavy-duty bird netting, like this one, from places like Walmart and Home Depot, that create a harmless barrier between your grass and the invaders.

This method is non-invasive to your plants and will protect them from a variety of animals, however, does require you to lay it out every night for it to be effective.

Beneficial Nematodes

Nematodes are great to solve the issue by getting to the root of the problem… GRUBS.

Beneficial Nematodes are really great when applied late summer / early fall as they target the new-born grubs before they mature and become a food source for raccoons!

This Nematode solution can be used indoor and outdoor and is not only good for preventing raccoons and skunks but also great for lawn and plant health!

Nematodes help in creating strong roots in your grass by ridding the grubs that chew your roots. This is an added bonus as the strong roots will also make it harder for the raccoons to dig up!

Rooting Hormone

Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone

Rooting hormones are great as a long-term strategy in preventing raccoons.

If you have freshly laid grass, applying rooting hormone will help to promote healthy and strong roots, making it hard for the raccoons to pull up. This can also be used on grass patches that have previously been pulled up by raccoons and have already damaged roots.

Tips and Tricks to Preserve your Lawn in the Face of Raccoons!

Aside from these preventative methods, there are also some great tips and tricks that you can use that will also reduce the attraction of raccoons to your garden.

raccoon on green grass

Secure the Trash Can!

Raccoons are stereotyped to LOVE trash; they basically love anything that they can eat – even your leftovers!

To try and stop raccoons, or stop attracting them as much, you should secure your trash cans. Using a heavy bin with a secure lid will prevent the raccoons from gaining access to the trash.

Bring in Any Pet Food or Bird-Seed

Just like I said above, raccoons will eat everything and anything!

If you bring in pet food and bird-seed, you may see a decrease in raccoons who visit your garden. This won’t stop them completely, but it will definitely prevent them from coming more frequently!

Yard Work

Any sites where raccoons may create dens or hiding spots need to be cleared as this will only attract them more! So, it is best advised that you clear any overgrown shrubs and woodpiles as well as chopping branches so that there is less access to your roof.

Summary

I’ve been there, you’ve been there, raccoons are a pain to deal with!

There are no guarantees with raccoons and other nocturnal pests, however with the proper methods put in place, as well as patience, you’ll be glad to hear that you can finally have peace of mind knowing your grass is safe!

What do you think? If you have any other tips and tricks that can be put in place to deter raccoons let me know in the comments!

About the Author: Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.