You wake up one morning and make your way to the window. Suddenly, you see them: deep tears and tracks across your lawn. Something has torn your lawn to shreds, destroying all your hard work in the process. I’ve been there before and it sucks.
Any homeowner who has dealt with skunks knows they are no laughing matter. Nothing drives a dedicated gardener crazy faster than seeing your lawn shredded by these adorable, four-legged pests.
One moment you have a pristine, vibrant lawn. Then, the digging starts.
Skunks are a menace when it comes to lawn care. If you have experienced the wrath of these destructive critters, you know that getting rid of them can be a serious challenge.
Thankfully, there is hope out there! Keep reading to learn more about how to stop skunks from digging up your lawn.
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Ensure Skunks are to Blame
First, it’s a good idea to make sure that your lawn issues are skunk-related! Experts recommend comparing the tracks in your yard with confirmed skunk tracks before taking any next steps. Skunks leave several tell-tale signs that are easy to double-check.
Chances are, if you’ve got skunks, you’ll smell them eventually. Skunk spray is a stink like no other and it is unmistakable. For those of you lucky enough to have avoided skunk-spray so far, this video shows what your lawn will look like after skunks move in:
Major Signs Of A Skunk In Your Yard-Real Life Example
How to Stop Skunks from Digging Up Your Lawn
So, now that you know you have a skunk problem, what should you do next? Restoring and protecting your lawn can feel like an impossible task but these simple, low-cost solutions might surprise you.
Here are three expert tips on how to stop skunks from digging up your lawn this year:
Use Scare Tactics
1. Startle Skunks with Sensor Lights
Skunks are nocturnal creatures who cannot stand bright lights. To keep these intruders away from your lawn, install motion sensor lights. According to the home experts over at HGTV, motion sensor lights are a simple skunk deterrent that will help to keep your garden safe long-term.
Most animals are startled by motion sensor lights. Not only are they effective, but easy to install. Most experts recommend using multiple light sources when installing your sensors. This helps to shock the intruding creatures by flooding the yard with light.
While lights are initially very effective, they aren’t always a great long-term solution. Like most animals, your local skunks will eventually figure out that these lights are only lights and nothing more. For this reason, many experts suggest pairing lights with other tactics.
If your bedroom window looks onto your yard, you may want to invest in motion sensor lights that shine away from your home. Otherwise, the occasional flicker of lights might keep you up at night, waiting anxiously for the skunks to return.
2. Install a Scarecrow
Another great way to keep skunks out of your yard is to install a mechanical scarecrow. Skunks are terrified of people, so the last thing they want to do is hang out next to a terrifying scarecrow while digging up your lawn.
Mechanical scarecrows come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like people, while others take the form of common predators like coyotes, owls, or wolves. A mechanical owl flapping its wings is enough to terrify any skunk into hiding.
Another popular type of pest deterrent is a product called Owl Eyes. These scares are designed to look just like the glowing eyes of a bird of prey. Owl Eyes work great because they combine movement, fear, and light to send skunks running.
Some mechanical scarecrows even come with sprinklers attached. When motion is sensed, the mechanism sprays intruders with water, startling them into retreat. Install one of these in your yard and you are bound to ward off curious nighttime visitors.
One final option is the classic scarecrow. While human-like scarecrows might not look real to us, to skunks they are extremely convincing. The combination of human proportions and motion tricks the skunks into thinking your yard is occupied by the last creature they want to run into: you!
Out-Stink the Skunks
3. Household Scents
Believe it or not, skunks hate strong odors. In particular, they hate strong scents like paprika, soap, and citrus. Spread these items around the outside edges of your garden to drive away hungry skunks year-round.
If these tamer smells don’t do the trick, try something more potent. Detergent works wonders when it comes to repelling skunks, according to the experts at The Daily Gardener. Mix it with castor oil and it becomes even more effective.
Another deterrent that skunks can’t stand is the smell of mothballs. The only trick is that mothballs are toxic, so this solution is only useful for people without pets or small children running around.
When selecting a scent, make sure that you are able to distribute it around the entire perimeter of your property. If you leave gaps, the skunks might find a way in and bypass the odor barrier you’ve created.
4. Predator Urine
You read that correctly! One of the best ways to ward off skunks is to spray dog or coyote urine around the perimeter of your yard. Dog owners are able to do this without having to make any purchases.
An alternative to pet urine is purchasing flakes soaked in coyote urine at a local lawn-care store. These can be sprinkled along your fence or property line to keep your grass safe from nocturnal visitors.
These tactics, while effective, require upkeep. Solutions like predator urine, paprika, and soap will create a barrier around your property for a limited amount of time until they need to be re-applied.
Keep Your Lawn Free of Skunk Food
5. Use Caution with Your Compost
When it comes to attracting wildlife, one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is putting meat, fish, or other tempting foods into your backyard compost bin. These scraps lure skunks, along with other nocturnal creatures, into your yard to wreak havoc.
While composting is great for the planet, it can be a huge attraction for pesky visitors like racoons, skunks, or even bears. Invest in a high-quality compost bin or design one that is difficult to open. Unfortunately, the smell alone is enough to attract skunks.
Garbage cans can also be a big lure for skunks. Make sure you keep your bins well-sealed, or tuck them away in a shed or garage. Skunks have a great sense of smell, so it is important to never underestimate how tempting your trash bin might be.
Once the skunks find a source of regular, easy-to-access food, they are more likely to return. Don’t give skunks the green light. Keep your compost free of meat and fish, while also making sure the bin is tightly sealed. Your lawn will thank you!
6. Treat Your Grass for Grubs
One of the main reasons that skunks tend to destroy lawns is because they are hungry. Skunks feed on a type of grub that lives just beneath the soil’s surface. It might surprise you to learn that grubs are very common and can be found in most yards.
According to The Daily Gardener, one of the best ways to deter skunks is to apply nematodes to your lawn and garden. Nematodes are microscopic creatures that eat grubs. While they are deadly for grubs, nematodes are non-toxic for humans. This makes their application stress-free for parents and pet owners.
Nematodes are available at most garden stores and are easy to apply to your lawn. The best time of year to apply nematodes is late summer or early spring, so this preventative method requires a bit of planning.
Thankfully, the application of nematodes is pretty easy and has the added bonus of keeping your lawn looking lush and healthy. As the grubs are eaten away, your grass will grow thicker and closer together. This makes it even harder for skunks to dig up your lawn as an added bonus.
Even if you aren’t sure if your lawn has grubs, nematodes can improve the overall look and quality of your lawn, so why not give it a try?
This helpful video explains how to get rid of grubs quickly and effectively in four simple steps:
The Big Take Away
Skunks can be a nightmare for homeworkers, but these three tips work to keep your lawn safe.
Whatever route you choose for your skunk problem, rest assured that it is possible to get your lawn looking healthy and pest-free again. Scents, lights, scare-crows, and nematodes are all expert-tested methods to driving away your nocturnal pranksters.
Watching skunks destroy your lawn is heartbreaking. You spend so much time taking care of your yard, only to wake up one morning to find it torn up. Thankfully, these strategies can help you keep your lawn looking gorgeous year-round.