Image by Tambako the Jaguar
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Got raccoons? These cute, but mischievous, critters can wreak havoc around your home and garden, especially in high numbers. But learning how to keep raccoons away from a garden doesn’t have to be a trying task. There are steps you can take that will help you keep these animal pests under control.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Getting rid of raccoons can be as easy as cleaning up the area or as drastic as the use of traps. Other methods include the use of deterrents and exclusion, like fencing.
While you may normally come across their mischievous activities in the garden, raccoons will also get into garbage cans or your pet’s food. Therefore, it’s a good idea to secure garbage lids or trashcans so these animals cannot open them. Also, keep any pet food put away at night when raccoons are most active.
You may not always see them, but raccoons will certainly leave behind some evidence of their visit, especially in the garden. These may include tracks, droppings, and crop damage (like hollowed-out melons or half eaten corn).
Various methods can be used to frighten these animals away—some of which include the use of radios, flashing lights, scarecrows, windmills, pie pans, etc. However, these only work for a short while, if at all as the raccoon will get use to them quickly.
There is not an effective raccoon repellent either, though mothballs may help in small areas like crawl spaces and sheds.
Nonetheless, there are still preventative measures you can take. For instance, simply cleaning up the surrounding area can help. Raccoons will den in hollow trees/logs, brush piles, barns, etc. Removing woodpiles, overgrown shrubbery, and other debris can help. Open structures should be closed in, perhaps with screening, and overhanging tree branches should be pruned back to prevent the animals from gaining access to nearby rooftops.
How to Deter Raccoons with Fencing
Your best bet for getting rid of raccoons is through appropriate fencing. Since they are adept climbers (and diggers), ordinary fencing is not enough. To make it raccoon proof, you’ll need to add a strand or two of electric fencing at least 8 inches from the ground and 6-8 inches out from the fence. You could also bury the fencing at least 6 inches deep and a foot out to prevent digging.
As an alternative, you can simply place a strand or two of electric fence around your garden’s perimeter, keeping the bottom strand within 6 inches of the ground. This can easily be turned on at night and left off during the day if desired.
Trapping raccoons is yet another technique used. However, this is probably better left to a professional, as hemmed up coons can get mighty feisty, posing a threat to the homeowner.
If trapping, use a cage type, heavy gauge trap that’s at least 10 x 12 x 32 inches. Traps can be baited with anything from fresh fruits to canned fish-flavored pet food. Captured raccoons should then be relocated to a suitable area. Be aware though that it may be illegal to release raccoons into parks and federal land.