How To Stop Raccoons Digging Up Lawn?

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When I think of raccoons, the first thing that comes to mind is pests that can cause considerable damage to my vegetable garden and crops, and raid my garbage cans in search of food. 

What’s worse is that raccoons can carry and potentially transmit harmful diseases such as rabies and raccoon roundworm (an intestinal parasite) to humans, which is another reason to keep them away. 

But on a brighter note, raccoons are one of the few unwanted animals that may offer some benefits for your lawn and garden.

However, these benefits do not outweigh the damage these scavengers can cause. That said, here are 10 great ways to stop raccoons from digging up your lawn. 

How To Stop Raccoons Digging Up Lawn?

Why Do Raccoons Digging Up Lawn? 

There are myriad different reasons why raccoons dig up your lawn, most notably to retrieve fresh fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn pears, peaches, and grapes from the root up.

Raccoons may also invade your lawn to steal food from bird feeders if you have them installed and pet food left laying around in your yard. Just like me and you, raccoons love to munch on grapes and enjoy the juiciness these fruits provide. 

And if you think only cows, deer, and bears eat rhubarb, raccoons occasionally munch on this vibrant pink spring vegetable. 

Apart from being omnivores and feeding on your plants and fruits, raccoons dig up your lawn in search of grubs and other pests like the European Chaffer beetle in the soil, especially during the late summer to late fall. In fact, raccoons can quickly track pests in the ground but these benefits still don’t make them a good alternative to pest-repellant products. 

The damage raccoons cause to your lawn and property is far worse than grub damage, so you’re better off using commercially available pest control products to get rid of pests rather than inviting raccoons to get the job done. 

Further, raccoons look for warm places or create their own to shelter from the cold hence attics, chimneys, crawl spaces or use their skillful and nimble hands to dig burrows in your yard. 

Raccoon looking for warm places in lawn to create shelter

How to Determine if It’s Raccoons that Are Digging Holes in Your Yard and Not Another Pest? 

There are several tell-tale signs raccoons are digging holes in your lawn, starting with scratch marks and droppings at the base of trees and/or woodpiles. 

Raccoon droppings typically have a tubular shape with blunted ends and are usually dark in color. Even though the coloration of the droppings may vary depending on what the raccoon has consumed, they do look similar to other animal droppings such as skunk poop. 

Paw prints another clear sign of a raccoon infestation in your yard and around your property. Raccoon paws have five finger-like toes that measure between two to three inches in diameter across. Adding to this their trails are a unique pattern that consists of step lengths of about 10 to 12 inches. 

Other good signs raccoons have invaded your yard are trash strewn across your yard, toppled garbage cans, low growls, and shuffling noises. 

Check out my articles listing all causes of small holes in yard.

10 Ways to Stop Raccoons from Digging Holes in Your Yard 

1. Getting Rid of the Insect Problem 

Since grubs feast on many different types of insects and pests in your yard, the most effective way to stop the digging problem is by getting rid of their food source. 

Raccoons are omnivores and are considered scavengers rather than hunters, therefore, don’t necessarily go hunting for food but will eat insects and pests such as grubs, lizards, frogs, and rodents if they can catch them. 

Grubs are one of the many lawn pests that burrow into the soil and eat plant roots are they go, and raccoons can do some serious damage by searching for grubs below the soil, especially in late summer to early fall. 

Grub worms in lawn attracting racoons

I’ve written a detailed article on ways to eliminate grubs and other pests from your lawn but briefly, some methods include applying nematodes, introducing milky spore disease, encouraging more birds on your property, and applying neem oil. 

If your lawn is plagued with grubs, I recommend investing in professional grub treatment services to treat your lawn and garden. This is a quick and effective fix for two issues – the grub and raccoon problem. 

2. Install Motion-Sensored sprinklers

Many homeowners claim that motion-activated sprinklers are a great way to deter raccoons but on the downside is a temporary fix to the issue as these pests are persistent and will keep coming back. 

Motion-activated sprinklers such as the Havahart 5277 motion-activated sprinkler are designed to detect raccoons and other animals up to 100 feet away and can spray water up to 35 feet. 

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The notice and motion capabilities will provoke the raccoon’s natural instinct to run, and a shot of water blasted in their face is definitely unpleasant to anyone!

3. Prevent Raccoons with Ammonia 

Raccoons hate the smell of ammonia, making it a great option to keep them at bay. Ammonia somewhat smells like urine to a raccoon but can harm children too when ingested hence use this method with caution. 

You can either use rags dipped in ammonia or bowls of ammonia to deter raccoons from your yard and property.

But take note that raccoons will try and remove the ammonia you may have used so it’s important to secure them in the location. 

4. Scatter or Spray Pepper to Stop Raccoon Digging

Just like ammonia, cayenne pepper is another excellent way to prevent raccoons from digging holes in your lawn. Cayenne pepper irritates a raccoon’s sense of smell and is a natural raccoon repellent.

You can make cayenne pepper more effective by adding either boiling water or hot sauce to the mix. For maximum effectiveness, spray the baseline of your yard and house at least twice a week and any time it rains with this homemade raccoon repellent.

5. Place Mothballs Around Your Lawn and Property 

Mothballs do not perform that well to eliminate raccoons from your yard but are still worth a shot given that they emit a strong odor that these creatures loathe. 

But given the large size of raccoons, mothballs may not be highly poisonous to them, making them a temporary solution.

If raccoons can’t get around the mothballs, they may simply take a different route and stroll into your neighbor’s yard, which ideally doesn’t solve the issue because they will still be lingering in your neighborhood. 

Using mothballs to deter raccoons is fairly easy where you just have to buy a pack and spread them around your property. 

Mothballs to be placed around your lawn to get rid of raccoons

6. Use Vinegar to Deter Raccoons’ 

You have to be very careful when using vinegar to keep raccoons away from your yard because it will deter raccoons as well as damage any plants and turf it comes in contact with. 

Dip a few rags in vinegar and spread them in and around your yard. The raccoons will stay away as long the smell of the vinegar doesn’t fade, which should be a few days.

7. Buy or Make a Raccoon Trap 

Making a raccoon trap to trap raccoons is time-consuming so you’re better off just buying one either online or at your local store.

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Laying the trap and waiting for raccoons to enter it isn’t going to work. Raccoons are very clever so you’ll have to be a few notches ahead by bating the trap before placement. 

There are myriad different types of bait you can place in the raccoon trap including marshmallows and bread. You can also use commercial baits and traditional baits in tandem for your raccoon trap. 

Apart from being intelligent, raccoons have good memories so get them acquainted with the trap by leaving the bait inside for a few days and setting it. 

Keep the trap door open and test to ensure that the trigger mechanism is working properly. When a raccoon falls for the trap, place a blanket over the trap to keep the animal calm and call a professional to dispose of the animal in one of many natural habitats. 

8. Sprinkle Epsom Salt to Keep Raccoons Away 

You can use Epsom salt to keep raccoons away and as one of many preventative treatments. Raccoons don’t like the taste of Epsom salt, which you can sprinkle around your lawn and garden. As an alternative to sprinkling, you can add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to 4 liters of water in a sprayer. 

Spray the areas with the mixture where you notice raccoon activity and repeat the process if the initial application doesn’t resolve the issue. 

Epsom Salt to Keep Raccoons Away 

9. Garlic Oil to Repel Raccoons 

It’s easy to get your hands on a bottle of garlic oil online or at your local grocery store, but if you’re going to need a much more potent solution to tackle raccoons in your area and North America. 

To make garlic oil, you’ll need about 3 ounces of fresh garlic and 2 tablespoons of mineral oil. Start by mincing the 3 ounces of garlic, and mix them with 2 tablespoons of mineral oil. Place this mixture aside for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step. 

Since this recipe is for a medium size bottle of garlic oil, you don’t need a gallon of water, but a pint of water in a spray bottle should suffice. 

Fill a spray bottle with water, add 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 2 tablespoons of the garlic and oil mixture, and spray in areas where the raccoons may have visited. Repeat this process every 3 – 4 days or after it rains. 

10. Install Raccoon Deterrent Lights 

Raccoon deterrent lights are a good investment to keep raccoons far away from your lawn and property. The Night Guard Solar light is designed to protect your gardens, poultry, livestock, campsites, and much more, and automatically turns on at night and turns off at full daylight. 

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This weatherproof light is safe to use for people and pets and is easy to install on your lawn. Adding to this, when installed properly, raccoon deterrent lights keep pests away for years to come and should be placed approximately every 25 feet around your lawn’s perimeter. 

Here’s an informative video on how to deter raccoons from digging in your yard:

How to Deter Raccoons From Digging in Your Yard

Methods that Don’t Work Against Raccoons Digging Your Lawn

I’ve discussed 10 effective ways to keep raccoons away from your lawn and garden including tall trees and fruit trees. But here are a few methods that do not work to keep raccoons away. 

Coyote Urine or Wolf Urine

Using coyote urine is one of the biggest myths to keep raccoons and some other types of natural predators away from your lawn. The reason for this myth is that raccoons smell an active predator in the area and are deterred by the smell. 

The fact is that coyote urine does work for pests that are prey species of raccoons like groundhogs and squirrels but doesn’t work to deter raccoons, skunks, birds, and other smaller mammals. 

Fences Including Chicken Wire

If you’re putting up an electric fence or even bird netting, just to protect your healthy turf or freshly laid sod and property against raccoons, just know you’ve wasted a fair bit of cash.

Raccoons can dig under fences easily just like they do with burrows unless you’re installing electric fencing. But it’s worth mentioning that killing raccoons in certain states is illegal. 


Q. What is the Best Way to Prevent Raccoons from Digging?

A. The best way to prevent raccoons from digging is by getting rid of their food sources including covering garbage bins. Next, treat your lawn for grubs and block access to hiding places.

Q. What to do if You See a Raccoon in Your Yard? 

A. If you see a raccoon in your yard that isn’t a threat or isn’t sick or injured, let it be. Raccoons are shy animals and usually will run away once they see me. 

Q. How to Defend Yourself from an Attacking Raccoon? 

A. Believe it or not, protecting yourself from an attacking raccoon is easy where you clap your hands, yell at the animal and step towards it. 

Final Thoughts 

Raccoons can invade your lawn and compact spaces for several reasons but most notably to savor their taste buds with grubs (Japanese beetles, beetle larvae) and other pests.

The good news is that there are several ways to get rid of raccoons including removing their sources of food such as grub larvae and a large grub population and sprinkling garlic oil.

If you notice a large influx of raccoons or a stubborn unwanted pest that just won’t go away no matter what steps you take including installing ultrasonic animal repellents, call your local animal control or animal control agency. 66