How to keep raccoons away from your garden or porch

Want to know how to keep raccoons out of your garden? Raccoons aren’t known as “night bandits” for nothing: They’ve been known to patrol suburban and even urban areas at night in search of tasty bites, often in groups. Some people aren’t too bothered by them and will even feed raccoons that come to their yard or porch, but if you’re not a fan of them, there are ways to keep them away.

So if raccoons get in the way of your backyard ideas, don’t despair. With a little persistence and the right tactics, you can keep raccoons away, without harming them and without having to call pest control.

A raccoon on top of a bird feeder

(Image credit: clark42/Getty)

1. Remove Food Sources

If you’re only doing one thing to try to solve your raccoon problem, remove all possible food sources from your back and front yard. Conversely, keep food within reach and all your other efforts to keep them away will fail. As Jeremy Yamaguchi of Lawn Love points out, “Raccoons are smart and resourceful. If they can access food, they will do everything in their power to achieve it.

This means keeping all touring bin lids tightly closed and chaining the bins or keeping them in your garage. Yamaguchi also advises against leaving “dog or cat food on the porch” and making sure to only buy raccoon-proof bird feeders. “If you’re really concerned about raccoons, stop buying bird food until they’re gone.” You can also buy a raccoon stopper from Amazon for your bird feeder – it is difficult for raccoons to climb to access the feeder.

2. Make your home and garden less accessible

Although food is the main reason you see raccoons on your property, they can also be attracted to nesting opportunities in your attic, basement, or garage. Therefore, it is important to keep these areas as secure as possible. Adam Higdon, regional services manager and wildlife biologist at Critter Control, says placing “shields over chimney openings and sealing gaps along the outside of attic walls also helps keep raccoons out. to enter houses”.

Securing your garden from the intrusion of raccoons will be more difficult as they are smart and expert climbers. However, you may want to explore ideas for very tall, preferably outward-facing fences, to make it more difficult to access them.

3. Use live cage traps

If you find all the raccoons frequenting your yard a bit alarming, it might be time to start trapping them. Aaron Rice, animal expert and dog trainer at, recommends live raccoon traps (available on Amazon) that “can be baited with food and the raccoon will enter the trap unharmed.” Once inside, he will trigger the door and close behind them, trapping them safely.

However, Adam Higdon urges caution when trapping raccoons, as raccoons “can become aggressive and territorial in an instant.” They will attack people and pets if threatened. Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding trapped raccoons. Due to danger and regulations, it’s usually best to hire a professional to get rid of a raccoon from your home. Ultimately, if you’re unsure about carrying an angry raccoon to release, leave it to the pros.

4. Install motion sensor sprinklers

Nobody likes being doused with water unexpectedly – raccoons are no exception. The combination of noise and water is often enough to scare raccoons. Once they’ve been sprayed a few times, they’ll get the idea and will likely learn to avoid your yard. It’s not a guaranteed cure because some raccoons ultimately don’t seem to care too much about sprinklers. The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer motion-activated sprinkler is a good option available on Amazon.

5. Try motion sensors

There are all sorts of reasons to install the best outdoor security lights around your property. They are a good investment all around as they will keep human and animal intruders away from your home. Raccoons are nocturnal and will be startled by bright lights at night. Again, they may or may not get used to the lights, but due to the many benefits of security lights, it’s worth installing them anyway.

6. Install mesh barriers around your vegetable beds

If a flourishing vegetable garden is your ambition, know that it will be very tempting for these hungry night bandits. Raccoons are omnivores and won’t say no to your ripe tomatoes and strawberries. If you still want your own organic crop but don’t want raccoons (and squirrels and other hungry animals), then your best bet is to protect your vegetable beds with wire mesh. Or take up greenhouse gardening.

Four cute baby raccoons on a deck railing

(Image credit: EEI_Tony/Getty)

7. Keep your barbecue area clean

The intoxicating smell is one of the most enjoyable things about cooking meat and vegetables on the best barbecue in the summer. Well, it’s as bewitching to the raccoons as it is to you, so be sure to clean up your barbecue and the area around it right after you’ve finished barbecuing in your backyard. It’s not fun to clean up right away, but dirty grates and barbecue sauce stains on your patio will attract raccoons.

8. Monitor your compost pile

If you’ve just learned how to compost, it can be tempting to just throw everything into your compost pile and hope for the best. However, many people learn the hard way that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with all sorts of critters in your yard, including rats (yuck) — and, yes, potentially raccoons. Food scraps should always go to a designated, secure food bin, and it’s also best to buy a compost bin.

Is there a smell that repels raccoons?

In a word, no. While you can read advice online that recommends various essential oils to repel raccoons, Adam Higdon confirms that “there is no scent that will effectively repel a raccoon.” Raccoons are smart and are more likely to eliminate unpleasant odors than to leave your home.

Some people advocate the use of mothballs to repel raccoons, and it’s true that raccoons don’t like the smell. However, in practice they most often learn to avoid and ignore mothballs. Mothballs are also poisonous and you don’t want any wild animal to ingest them, so it’s best not to use them.

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