Got Yard Pests? Here's How to Deal With the Damage

by Team HomeServe
Molehills in the grass destroy the evenly lawn in the garden

Yard pests can wreak havoc on a beautifully landscaped lawn, ruin your plants, put your family at risk of disease and find a way into your home. When rodents get inside of your home, they can chew wires, burrow into wood and threaten the structural integrity of your house in the same way a termite infestation would. Outdoor pests such as deer, squirrels and skunks feast on your plants, pull up your bulbs and eat the fruits and vegetables you’ve worked so hard to produce.

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Many homeowners fail to consider the threats that animals pose to their plants and pets until it’s too late. This guide reviews how to deter common animal pests that may show up in your yard and what to do once you’ve discovered evidence that they’ve taken up residence outside your home.

How Do You Deter Deer From Your Property?

Use Deer Repellant

You can make your own deer repellant using household items. Deer don’t like some odors, so applying these smells can keep them off your property. One recipe for an effective deer repellent is a mixture of garlic, hot sauce, liquid soap and water. When spraying this solution around your property, apply it to locations that are 6 feet off the ground. If you’re anticipating rain, make sure not to apply the deer repellent within 24 hours of wet weather. The rain washes away the scent that you’re using to repel the deer and renders the repellent ineffective.

Deer also dislike the smell of soap, so hanging a few bars of soap from tree limbs around your property can act as a deer repellent.  Deer avoid certain plants, including sunflower, dahlia, wormwood, lavender, foxglove and wood hyacinth, so putting in a few of these plants can deter deer, too.

Put Up a Barrier

Installing deer fencing that’s at least 8 feet tall also keeps deer off your property. In addition to the repellents and fencing, you can use deer netting to protect your plants and use floodlights to scare the deer away if the lights are motion-activated. After one or two visits to your property, the lights deter the deer from returning.

How to Keep Squirrels From Eating Your Bulbs and Flowers

Lay Some Wire

Installing chicken wire around your plants is one way to keep squirrels from gaining access to your bulbs. The best way to install the wire is to plant your bulbs and then lay the wire down on the soil, weigh it down with rocks and use mulch to cover the wire. The bulbs can grow in the spaces in the wire while keeping yard pests from digging them up.

Check Your Fertilizer’s Ingredients

One of the mistakes home gardeners make is using fertilizers that attract squirrels to their plants. Natural fertilizers made of bone meal, fish emulsion and other organic materials are quite popular, but their strong odor draws squirrels and other yard pests looking for a quick meal. Synthetic fertilizers don’t carry strong scents, and their odors aren’t very attractive to squirrels.

Distract Them

The same ingredients in the deer repellent recipe above are unpleasant to squirrels. Red pepper and garlic can keep squirrels away from your bulbs. If you don’t mind the presence of squirrels and just want them to stay away from your precious plants, you can install a squirrel feeder and stock it with nuts and seeds to distract the squirrels. When you place the feeder in another area of your yard and couple it with chicken wire and repellents near your plants, the squirrels will avoid your plants in favor of the food that’s easy to access.

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Pee-ew! How Do You Keep Skunks Out of Your Yard?

Shed Some Light on Them

Skunks are nocturnal and extremely sensitive to light. You can deter them with a motion-activated light — as long as they’ve not created a home in your yard to take cover under. And if you have a dog or cat, you don’t want the skunk to get close enough to activate a floodlight.

Stink Them Out

The light method is the most effective, but you can also use repellents that skunks can smell from a distance to keep them at a distance. You can combine castor oil and dish soap in equal parts to create a skunk repellent. It’s not a good idea to spray the solution during the day because skunks are asleep at this time. Wait until dark and spray the perimeter of your yard as well as tree limbs so the scent carries and the skunks smell it from far away. Orange and lemon peel are also effective deterrents because skunks can’t stand the smell of citrus.

If this doesn’t work, purchasing predator urine from a humane source may work. The scent mimics the presence of a dangerous animal that skunks want to avoid. Some skunks can only be removed by professionals, so if none of these methods work, contact a pest control service to remove and relocate the skunk.

Moles, Voles and Gophers, Oh My! How to Keep Burrowers at Bay

Introduce Predators

Rodents that burrow underground usually build homes close to attractive food sources. If you’ve discovered an infestation, it means they’re attracted to the garden you’ve provided as food. Moles, voles and gophers are best handled when you invite predators into your yard to deter them. Putting up an owl nest may attract a barn owl onto your property that hunts the rodents for you.

Dogs and cats roaming the yard can discourage rodents from making a home there. These house pets have a natural prey drive and chase and sniff out rodents, driving them from your property. If you find the burrows the rodents have dug, you can flood them with water and set up a live trap near each burrow to catch the rodents as they come or go.

Or, Fake a Predator

Predator urine or even the waste created by your own pets can be used as a repellent. When the mole, vole or gopher smells urine or feces, it avoids the area for fear of being hunted. Another measure you can take is to install an exclusion fence that extends 24 inches into the soil.

How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons?

Eliminate Food Sources

Raccoons are known to carry numerous diseases, such as rabies, that can threaten your family or pets. The best way to keep raccoons off your property is to eliminate any food sources such as pet food, garbage and fallen fruit in your yard. If you have a garden or compost pile, install fencing around the area to keep raccoons and other yard pests at bay.

Restrict Access

Check for potential ways the raccoons could access your roof, chimney and garage. For example, if a tree branch is touching your roof, a raccoon can use it to gain access to your house and build a nest.