How to keep skunks out of your garden

When threatened, some people make inappropriate jokes or act very confidently as defense mechanisms. Skunks, on the other hand, release a foul-smelling spray.

And although most of their time is spent sleeping and foraging for food (including many insects and rodents widely considered pests), some people (understandably) don’t want skunks living in their garden, especially if they have dogs or other outdoor pets. In that case, here’s how to tell if skunks are living on your property and how to prevent them from moving in in the first place.

Signs that skunks may be living in your garden

Because skunks are nocturnal, you may only find one or more of the creatures living near your home after your dog returns from his potty break in the yard before bedtime smelling their familiar pungent scent.

But because that’s the type of situation you’re looking to avoid, keep an eye out for these other signs that a skunk (or more) might be living in your yard:

  • Persistent, light musky odors under a building or woodpile
  • Small, shallow holes in the lawn (caused by skunks looking for larvae)
  • Overturned plants
  • Damage to lower leaves or ears of maturing vegetable crops (including corn)

How to keep skunks out of your garden

The best way to keep skunks from taking up residence in your yard is to make it inhospitable enough that they want to live elsewhere. This is not meant to harm skunks in any way, but if you have inadvertently created luxury accommodation for skunks behind your own home, you may want to make it a little less welcoming. Here’s how:

stop feeding them

If you feed the birds, you also feed the skunks. Sure, putting bird feeders up high on poles helps a bit, but think about how much of that bird seed ends up on the ground, giving skunks an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The same goes for feeding your pets outdoors. Skunks don’t care if your cat’s or dog’s name is printed on their bowl; they’re going to help themselves at Fluffy’s Fancy Feast.

Stop feeding them indirectly

Even if you don’t intentionally feed the skunks, you may be doing so indirectly, by having an easily accessible garden full of fresh produce for them, or by not securing the lids of your garbage cans (they’re not picky).

Create a housing shortage

In addition to food, skunks also need shelter, and your backyard may be full of ready-to-move-in homes for them. Some of their favorite real estate includes:

  • Piles of wood and stones
  • Raised sheds and other outbuildings
  • Dog houses
  • Openings under concrete slabs
  • Crawl spaces under porches
  • Other partially sheltered outdoor nooks and crannies

For the most part, these aren’t structures you can simply move or get rid of, so do your best to make sure they’re as secure as possible, eliminating (or at least temporarily covering) any point of potential input.

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