How to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Yard

Raccoons are a nuisance. They can cause a lot of damage to your property and are potentially dangerous to you and your family. For those reasons, and a few more you should do your best to keep raccoons out of your yard.

Raccoon getting into garbage can. Text: How to keep raccoons out of your yard

If you live close to a wooded area or an area known to have a large population of raccoons, you are likely to encounter raccoons on your property.

As nocturnal animals, you may never actually see the raccoons themselves but will see evidence of the destruction they often leave behind.

We experienced this first hand when we lost one of our hens to the sharp little hands of a raccoon.

As soon as you see signs of raccoons on your property, you’re going to want to take action.

Here’s what you need to do to keep raccoons out of your yard.

Steps to Take to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Backyard

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The best way to keep raccoons out of your yard is to remove all potential enticements and inviting features that may draw the raccoons to your property.

This means removing accessible food, clearing your yard of excess debris, and sealing off potential nesting areas.

Below we will walk you through each of these steps, so you don’t forget to address any single issue that may be making your yard attractive to raccoons.

1) Remove All Food Sources

Food is the number one reason you may find raccoons in your backyard at night.

These scavengers will rummage through your garbage, eat pet food, or even dig up your gardens.

The best way to get rid of raccoons is to limit the food that is available to them on your property.

Secure your garbage cans as best you can by either storing them in a garage, garbage can shed or locking the lids to the can to prevent them from being opened.

You should also bring in any pet food that may be located outside and clear up any food debris from meals or cooking preparation (including your outdoor grill, bbq or smoker)

Once you are sure that all food sources have been cleared and secured, you can begin to assess other elements that may be drawing raccoons to your property.

2) Track Their Paths and Secure Entry Points

Using either a night vision camera or physical evidence left behind, do your best to track the movements the raccoons are making on your property.

If you find a clear entry point, be sure to secure the area as best you can to prevent them from using the opening again.

You are also going to want to clear your yard of overgrowth and fallen debris to ensure your property is not offering easy to access den or nesting areas.

You may also want to seal off your chimney as this is a common space for raccoons to inhabit.

Check around the perimeter of your home near the ground and roof for damage, especially leading to attic or cellar space that would provide an enticing home.

3) Use Raccoon Repellents

After you have removed food and secured your property, consider using a raccoon repellent to further deter raccoons from entering your property.

Raccoons hate the smell of apple cider vinegar, Irish Spring Soap, and cayenne pepper.

  • Soak rags in vinegar and place them in high traffic areas or around garbage cans.
  • Sprinkle soap or cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your property to deter the critters from entering.

These repellents work best when used in conjunction with the other steps, as cayenne pepper alone will not deter raccoons from an easy meal or safe nest.

4) Use a Motion Activated Sprinkler

No one likes being sprayed by a sprinkler…this even includes raccoons.

Using a motion activated sprinkler attachment can scare the unwanted animals away, even while you sleep.

The most recent versions have day and night detection modes, which is exactly what will be needed for deterring raccoons who are most likely entering your yard in the middle of the night.

Like other strategies, overtime the raccoons may be smart enough to realize that the water won’t harm them or they may even figure out a route through your yard that doesn’t trip the motion detector on the sprinkler, however it is a humane way to try to keep the raccoons out of your yard.

5) Call a Professional

If you have taken all of the above steps and are still seeing evidence of raccoons on your property, it is time to call in pest control.

Professional pest control services will be able to assess your property to ensure you have properly protected it against uninvited guests.

They will also be able to implement more drastic measures, like traps, to remove raccoons.

You should never attempt to trap or kill raccoons on your own as they are prone to numerous diseases that can be harmful to you and your family.

Professional pest control services will ensure the raccoons are properly removed from your property and can implement strategies to prevent them from returning.

What should you do if you see a raccoon in your yard?

Do not panic.

Seeing a single raccoon in your yard does not mean that you have a raccoon problem.

However, seeing a raccoon in your yard should lead you to further investigate and continue to pay diligent attention to additional sightings or signs of more raccoons.

If you are able, watch the raccoon in your yard. Track his or her path through the yard, noting if the raccoon appears to be eating or rummaging in particular areas. If it is too dark to watch the raccoon, survey your property the next day to try to determine why the raccoon was drawn to your yard and where he or she walked.

If you see a raccoon in your yard, do not try to approach it or trap it. Raccoons carry a wide array of diseases, and a single bite or scratch from the animal can cause you serious bodily harm. You can attempt to scare the animal off with a loud noise, perhaps through a window or from a safe distance away. Do not take further action if the raccoon does not leave.

How do you scare raccoons away from your house?

Raccoons are nocturnal.

They will come out and scavenge your house and yard at night….you know, like when you are sleeping.

Because of this, it is often difficult to catch raccoons in the act of trespassing on your property.

If you do see a raccoon, you can try to scare it away with loud noises or bright lights.

These tactics may work once or twice, but once a raccoon learns that there is no real threat following the noise or light, the scare tactic will no longer be effective. Yep, they’re pretty smart!

Also, just because a raccoon runs away at the initial scare does not mean he or she will not return later when you have gone to back to bed for the night.

How do you keep raccoons away from garbage?

The key to keeping raccoons away and out of your garbage is to keep it secure and unavailable to wild animals.

If possible, house your garbage cans inside a shed or garage that can be locked and sealed.

If not, you may consider purchasing trash cans built with a locking system to keep critters from breaking into your trash bags.

Make sure your trash is picked up or managed promptly.

The longer it sits out in the garbage cans, the more likely it will lure raccoons to investigate.

If you have a large amount of trash following a specific event or busy week, consider taking the trash directly to the dump yourself rather than waiting for a weekly pick-up.

The best way to keep raccoons away from the garbage is to not give them any garbage to access. So, whether this means storing your trash cans away in a secure location or limiting the amount of garbage placed in the cans, be conscious about the trash situation in and around your home.

How do you keep a raccoon off a deck?

If raccoons are becoming frequent visitors on your deck, you will want to determine what is drawing them to the deck.

Maybe you keep dog food or a bird feeder on the deck that is luring the raccoons.

Or, perhaps your grill requires cleaning and has a few meals’ worth of meat scraps left over.

You must remove all food from the deck every night.

If raccoons continue to show up on your deck despite there being no food available, then your next step will be to determine how they are entering your deck and why they are coming. Do your best to seal off any potential entry points, like broken boards or deck drainage systems.

If you believe the raccoons have begun nesting under your deck or in an area that is accessible by climbing your deck, call in professional pest control to assess the situation and remove the nesting areas.

Nesting raccoons can cause extensive damage to your deck and home.

How do you keep raccoons from digging up plants?

Raccoons are relentless critters and are not easily deterred from areas where food is available, like plants in a garden.

The best way to keep raccoons from digging up your plants is to fence in the area and keep it as secure as possible. You may even consider installing an electric fence around the perimeter of your property to keep out the wildlife.

If an electric fence seems too drastic, consider installing garden netting and screens around particularly vulnerable portions of your garden.

You also want to keep your yard free of as much yard waste and debris as possible.

Clear out woodpiles, trim overgrown shrubbery and trees, and keep your grass maintained to help eliminate nesting and den sites.  

Will vinegar keep raccoons away?

Raccoons do not like the smell of apple cider vinegar.

You can soak a rag in apple cider vinegar and place it near raccoon entry points, trash cans, or close to a potential nesting area to help deter raccoons.

Keep in mind that hunger and nesting rituals are powerful forces that will continue to drive the animals.

Their hunger or desire to create a home for soon-to-be babies may override their distaste for the smell of apple cider vinegar. Vinegar should be used in conjunction with removing food sources and securing entry points to be most successful.

Does Irish Spring Soap keep raccoons away?

Like vinegar, Irish Spring Soap can act as a raccoon deterrent.

Raccoons and other small critters are not fond of the smell derived from the active ingredients in the soap. Sprinkle soap flakes around the perimeter of your yard or concentrate it in areas most often targeted by raccoons.

Also like vinegar, the smell of the Irish Spring Soap may not be enough to deter raccoons intent on finding a meal or home for their families. The soap repellent should also be used to support other, more permanent, tactics of keeping raccoons off your property.

What is the best way to get rid of raccoons for good?

The best way to get rid of raccoons for good is to remove all accessible food—garbage or trash cans, bird feeders, pet food, dinner scraps, etc., maintain your yard, and seal off any potential nesting areas on your home or deck.

You want to make your property the least inviting as possible to raccoons.

If your property is located near neighbors or other community areas that are drawing the raccoons, you will need to implement a community-wide strategy to help deter the raccoons from the area.

Enlisting professional pest control to provide specific suggestions, set traps, and help remove nesting areas will help ensure the raccoons do not return to the area.

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5 Tips To Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Yard