How to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Garden

Updated on August 29, 2017
Michael Kismet profile image

Michael is an author with a passion for the environment and he is trying to save the planet, one reader at a time!

raccoons destroying my garden
raccoons destroying my garden | Source

Signs of Raccoon Activity in Your Garden

They can be frustrating, but we should keep in mind if we leave food readily available--we can't blame them for taking advantage. But there are ways to figure out if it is indeed a raccoon digging up your plants. You can tell if a raccoon has been in your garden by:

  • Finding their paw tracks, they have very distinct five-toed paw tracks.
  • Fecal droppings that are commonly left behind while feeding.
  • Locating scratches on your fencing and trees.
  • Checking if your trash cans are being looted.

Raccoons aren't too finicky when it comes to food, which makes them very opportunistic omnivores. They are easily identifiable due to their black band masks across their faces. I think this is quite ideal considering they have a penchant for cleverly sneaking around and stealing food, usually undetected.

They're regarded as highly crafty and resourceful animals that will rarely give up on a mission. Especially if that mission involves raiding or ransacking an area for an easy meal. They have paws that mimic the human hand, which make them surprisingly agile and dexterous. They excel at running, jumping, swimming, and are able to climb with great precision and speed.

raccoon tracks
raccoon tracks | Source

Nocturnal habits keep the raccoon mostly out of sight. Conflicts with raccoons come in many shapes and sizes, but all can be resolved humanely.

— The Humane Society

How to Make Raccoons Leave

Dealing with mischievous raccoons in your yard and garden can be a maddening situation, but with a bit of knowledge and patience you can get rid of them and keep them away. Being nocturnal, they are obviously most active while you're in bed sleeping. It's difficult to safeguard your fruits and vegetables when this furry little pirate strikes at 3 a.m.

It is a misconception that they hibernate during the winter due to the fact that they will hide in makeshift dens during bad weather conditions. They usually prefer heavily wooded areas with a reliable source of water, but more and more are venturing into human populated areas with gardens for an easy buffet. Here are some tips on how to keep raccoons out of your home, yard, and garden.

how to keep raccoons away
how to keep raccoons away | Source

Removing Other Food Sources

As aforementioned, these small invaders will pretty much scarf down anything they can get their little paws on. Aside from the food growing in your garden, it is best to remove all other sources of food near and around your home.

  • Make sure your outside trash cans are secure with tight fitting, locked lids. If you have a trash can that doesn't have a locking mechanism, you can rig it with bungee cords to strap down the lid. They have a nasty reputation for rummaging through garbage cans for food.
  • Clean your external garbage cans regularly with bleach and water. This will keep the aroma of food to a minimum and will attract less unwanted attention from these nightly scavengers.
  • If you have dogs or cats and leave pet food outside, make sure it gets taken in before sunset. It is well documented that raccoons enjoy eating cat and dog food.
  • If you have bird feeders outside, be sure to hang it someplace inaccessible to them and other pests that might consume the bird seed. They might even try to shelter in the bird house itself, so better safe than sorry.

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Unless you’re a raccoon. Then it’s basically all one category.

— Frankerson Peterson

Make Your Yard and Garden Unappealing

Like fluffy little vampires, they do not like to conduct their business in the light of day and much prefer to move and act in the shadows. They also can't help themselves when we leave food out in the open and leave our yard and garden unprotected. Here are a few things you can do to repel raccoons from your home, yard, and garden.

  • Since they have a natural aversion to light, try putting out motion sensor flood lights to disrupt their night time raiding. Make sure to place them tactically so the light shines over your yard and garden.
  • They really dislike the stench of ammonia. Try soaking rags in ammonia and place them around areas where you suspect raccoon activity. Also, you can soak a rope in ammonia and set it down around your entire garden for 360 degrees of protection. (be cautious with this method if you have pets)
  • They do not feel completely comfortable around noises. Leave a small radio out in the middle of your backyard and garden. This will help keep them from getting to your garden's fruits and vegetables. (make sure not to have the radio on too loud. An annoyed neighbor is just as bad as a pillaging raccoon.)
  • I personally recommend a compact solar powered raccoon repellent to keep them and other pests from ruining your garden. I've used this device to safely keep them away from my yard. It uses motion detectors to activate a super sonic wave to humanely keep them at a distance.
  • Make your own pepper spray to keep them at bay! You can boil up water with hot sauce or any fresh hot peppers. Let the mixture cool and fill up some spray bottles. Spray the concoction near trees and around the perimeter of your yard.

how to get rid of raccoons in backyard
how to get rid of raccoons in backyard | Source

Who Likes Raccoons?

What is your opinion on raccoons and their shenanigans?

See results

Using a Live Trap With Bait

If all else fails, the last resort would be in capturing the raccoon in a live trap(I do not support or approve of killing any creature, unless there's an imminent threat involved.) Sometimes you will encounter an aggressive one that is stubborn and will not go away by conventional means.

Make sure you obtain a double-door design when looking for traps. Raccoons are renowned for their ability to think, adapt and overcome most traditional traps. Set the trap/traps in a shady area where they feel more at ease. Plus, if and when you do trap one, it'll be in a more comfortable spot out of direct sunlight.

Here is an effective list of raccoon bait to use:

  • Sweet corn
  • Almost anything coated in honey
  • Cat food/dog food
  • Meats with a good ratio of fat
  • Watermelon
  • Peach
  • Mushed up marshmallows

You might have noticed from this list that they tend to have a sweet tooth. Try mixing a few different baits together to make it irresistible to them!

Remember to check on the traps frequently, we don't want them imprisoned for longer than they need to be. When you do catch one, be sure to approach slowly and speak in a gentle tone.

Also, it is best to drape a sheet over the trap before relocating them. This will aid in keeping them calm while you move the trap. If possible, have an extra pair of hands assist you. Relocate the raccoon at least five miles away from your home to ensure it won't find its way back.

Is it Illegal to Kill a Raccoon?

Unfortunately, in most states, it is perfectly legal to kill them because they are considered an aggressive nuisance. But I hope readers opt to relocate them swiftly to a more remote area. If you choose to put one down, at least do it in the most humane way possible. A gun is considered to be the most merciful way, aside from moving them elsewhere.

If you know more ways of dealing with raccoons in the garden, please feel free to leave them in the comment section along with any other comments and opinions. Thank you!

Sources

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Michael Kismet

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Coll 6 weeks ago

        Raccoons have angled mouths which makes it difficult for them to eat low level amounts of food in containers, particularly cat or dog food from a bowl if you are feeding strays or ferals. I only full the bowl up a 1/4 of the way and they become frustrated and move on. Also they can't bend down into a horizontal, covered container like a Rubbermade container for more than a couple of seconds. That frustrates them and they move on. If you trap a raccoon put a blanket over the trap and transport quickly to the new location. Place food down at the new location for them so they stay there. Hope this helps.

      • Michael Kismet profile image
        Author

        Michael Kismet 9 months ago from Northern California

        Those raccoons, God bless them!

        I'm humbled to be of assistance, thanks for reading, Marlene!

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 9 months ago from USA

        I am camping for the summer and I overheard some fellow campers talking about their encounter with raccoons. It seems they had several coolers filled with food. Although the campers covered the coolers, they did not seal the coolers and in the morning all of the coolers had been opened and the contents consumed. They knew it was raccoons because of the paw prints and, like you mentioned, the droppings left behind. These are some fabulous tips that I will pass along to my camping neighbors.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)