How to Keep Animals Out of Your Yard

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Keep animals from destroying your garden with a combination of exclusion and deterrents.
Keep animals from destroying your garden with a combination of exclusion and deterrents. (Image: CraigWWalker/iStock/Getty Images)

Uninvited animals can wreak havoc on a yard or garden, but keeping them out ensures that your landscaping looks its best. Large animal pests such as deer can easily damage yard decorations while treating plants and shrubs like a buffet. Raccoons are known scavengers that can sneak into garbage cans and strew garbage across the lawn while looking for a snack. Rabbits, groundhogs and voles feast on plants and dig up the yard.

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Fence Solutions

A fence is one of the most expensive options to keep animals out of the yard, but it is also one of the most effective solutions. Choose from a variety of fence options for all budgets and aesthetic landscaping styles, including picket fences, chain-link fences, stockade fences or even rustic willow wattle fences. Deer can easily jump a standard 4-foot chain-link or picket fence, so a 6-foot or taller stockade privacy fence works best. Bury fences 1 to 2 feet underground to restrict access for burrowing animals like rabbits and groundhogs. Bend the bottom of the buried fence and lay it horizontally about 1 foot to further limit animals that manage to burrow under the fence.

Motion-Sensitive Deterrents

A motion-sensitive animal deterrent can stop invading animals in their tracks and make them scurry away from your yard. A motion-activated light installed on the side of a house or garage scares critters away and has the added benefit of lighting up the yard when anyone passes through. If you have problems with animals digging up your yard, install a motion sensor as part of your sprinkler system. A quick splash of water is enough to send the trespassers running without harming them in any way. You can also install motion-activated alarms to blast a warning sound, an option that is particularly effective for birds.

Eliminate Attractions

Animals are less likely to enter your yard if they have no reason to cross the property line. Remove wood piles and brush piles that can provide habitat for small animals, snakes and birds. Untrimmed bushes and dense thickets of shrubs also invite garden pests. Close in any openings in your home, garage or shed foundation with chicken wire or hardware cloth to prevent animals from making their homes too close to your homes. Ensure that all animals are removed first so you don't trap them inside. A garbage disposal can help cut down on food in your household trash that can attract animals to your garbage bins. If you compost leftovers, keep the compost pile fenced in or in a closed container to restrict access.

Odor Aversion

Just as fragrant plants and food can attract unwanted pests, certain unpleasant odors serve as deterrents for animals. Apply predator urine around your property and targeted areas to scare away small animals. Moth balls scattered around the property line keep snakes, mice, rabbits and many other animals away, but avoid using these around pets or children because they are toxic. Garlic and hot peppers found in your produce bowl can deter pests with their scent and taste. Blend whole garlic cloves or hot peppers with water and pour it around your property line. You can also spray these topically on leaves to keep pests away from specific plants. Hang bars of soap from trees or around flower beds; animals mistake the soap fragrance for human scent.

Scare Tactics

Simple decoys can prove effective at keeping animals out of your yard and garden. A large owl decoy will trick smaller birds and small animals into thinking this large predator bird resides there. Choose an owl decoy with glowing eyes so its presence is known in the dark. Scarecrows stand in for a human presence to scare animals away. Stuff an old long-sleeve shirt and pants with straw or lawn clippings, top it with a ball of straw under a hat, and use a stake to mount it in your yard. Fireworks and other noisemakers are sometimes used to scare pests, but neighborhood ordinances might restrict their use. Reflective tape, shiny aluminum pans and other bright, shiny materials throughout the property can also keep animals out.

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