How To Deter Skunks From Your Yard

How to deter skunks from your yard

Want to learn how to deter skunks from your garden?

If you have a skunk problem in your yard, you need to figure out ways to help keep them away.

Skunks can be beneficial to your yard. But they can also be quite destructive and create problems for you and your property. Finding ways to stop skunks coming into your yard will save you time, energy, and money from cleaning up their mess.

This guide will take you through 14 easy and natural methods to deter skunks from coming into your yard.

First, let’s look at why skunks can lead to big problems if they go unmanaged.

Why you need to keep skunks away

Skunks build dens

One of the risks of having skunks on your property is that they will see it as an attractive place to build a den. Skunks will usually stay in their winter and breeding dens a lot longer than any other time of year. Once they are there it can be time-consuming to get rid of them without harming them.

Skunks can have up to 7 babies each year.  The problem is that they will often come back to a den that has been successful for them raising babies or overwintering.

Skunks smell

One thing we all know about skunks is that they are really smelly. That’s because they use an offensive spray as a defense mechanism. The thing is they carry that scent around with them.

Nobody wants that smell hanging around their yard. Plus they’ll continue to replenish their putrid stench when they feel threatened. That may be the result of you startling them putting out the trash or even a run-in with your family pet.

The stink of a skunk is hard to get rid of if it’s constantly outside or very close to your property for a long time.

Skunks are destructive

Skunks are pretty destructive creatures. They will forage around for food in your yard eating your plants and even raiding your trash cans. Skunks are also really good diggers. They won’t think twice about making holes all over your lawn to find juicy grubs.

Skunks carry disease

Skunks carry a whole variety of diseases that are dangerous both for humans and your pets. These diseases can be passed on through bites, scratches, or feces. The most common disease they carry is rabies, distemper, and leptospirosis.

Skunks cost you money

Leaving skunks to roam in your yard will cost you money somewhere along the line. That may be from cleaning products, vet bills, medical bills, or clean-up services. Even if you deal with some of these issues without professional services, it will still cost you time.

The best way to stop any of these problems from occurring is to deter the skunks from coming into your yard in the first place.

You’ll be happy to learn that there are plenty of humane ways to deter skunks from coming into your yard. The idea is to make your yard as unattractive as possible for them to want to make a den or forage for food.

Let’s take a look at what methods will work best for you.

How to deter skunks – 14 Ways

1. Create Physical Barriers

One of the most effective ways to keep skunks out of your yard is to use a physical barrier to stop them from entering in the first place.

Fences can be a very effective way to stop skunks from finding an entry point into your yard. Striped skunks are very poor climbers and won’t be able to scale a fence over 2 ft. tall. Although knowing what type of skunk is visiting your yard will be useful, as spotted skunks are very good climbers. That means a fence of any size won’t deter them.

If building a fence or wall, you’ll need to consider the foundations. Striped skunks are very good diggers and will go under when they can’t go over. To stop them from burrowing you can use scat mats, chicken wire, or digging spikes (this Doniks one is a great option). These will stop them from passing under the soil.

2. Don’t invite them in

It’s really important to consider how you may be inviting skunks into your property. Think where they may easily get into your homes such as open windows, doors, garages, chimneys, or even pet doors. You may have window wells where skunks can fall down and won’t be able to climb out.

Once the skunk makes its way in it can find a hiding place in your basement or even work its way into your attic.

You can stop this by making sure all doors and windows are shut at night when skunks are about. A mesh screen can also prevent the skunks from getting in further if you need to keep windows or doors open at night. Capping your chimney can prevent spotted skunks from climbing into your roof space.

3. Use light and sound

Skunks are nocturnal animals and will forage for food at night. This means they prefer conditions that are dark and quiet.

Skunks can be easily scared by sudden bright light and loud noises.

A simple way to scare skunks away is to use motion-activated security lights around your yard. Large bright ones like these are the best for this.

The lights will be activated by the motion of the skunks moving around. They won’t like the sudden bright light and will run away. If this happens each time they come into your yard, they’ll learn that it’s not a safe place to forage.

This solution is simple and doesn’t need a lot of effort apart from the initial light installation.

You can also try placing a radio near spots that skunks visit frequently. The skunks won’t like the chattering noises. The only problem is that your neighbors may not appreciate it either.

4. Don’t Leave out food

One sure-fire way to attract skunks into your yard is by leaving out food scraps. Skunks have an amazing sense of smell and will think your yard is a great place to forage. It goes without saying that you should never leave out food scraps for wild animals to eat.

You should also consider the food you may leave out accidentally. One of the most common sources is leaving outdoor pet bowls overnight. The skunks will sniff it out and eat up anything they can find.

The best thing to do is to take any pet bowls indoors overnight.

You may also make your yard a skunk food haven if you’ve been entertaining in your yard. Yard parties or BBQs can leave lots of food crumbs and smells for the skunk to find.

After you’ve eaten outside try to clean up as much as possible before you leave the yard for the night. That includes cleaning any outdoor cooking equipment such as smokers or BBQ which can hold on to delicious food smells.

5. Deter Rodents

Skunks love to eat rodents as part of their diet, especially in wintertime. Keeping access to food in your yard to a minimum is a good step towards preventing rodents.

One really great way to stop rodents from being attracted to your trash cans is to use a mint spray or even mint-scented trash bags.

Rodents hate mint smells and won’t go near these areas. With fewer rodents in your yard, it will become less of a hot spot for the skunks to want to eat.

6. Be mindful of birdseed

Another source of food that skunks can be attracted to is bird feeders. The striped skunks won’t be able to climb up to empty them, but, the spotted skunks will. You can try using a raccoon baffle (this one will work on any existing feeder poles you have). This is a device that will prevent spotted skunks from climbing or jumping onto your bird feeders.

Striped skunks will be able to easily eat any bird seed that is on a ground feeder or raised at a level less than 2ft.

Another great way to stop skunks from getting access to bird food is to use a no mess bird seed. That way the bird will create a lot less mess underneath your feeders that the skunks won’t be able to hoover it up at night.

7. Smell Deterrents

The funny thing about skunks is that they don’t like things that are overly smelly. They have an excellent sense of smell, but strong smells can be irritating for them.

You can plant these scents around your yard to deter the skunks from foraging around.

Plants that skunks don’t like the scent of are:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Cloves
  • Garlic

The good thing is that you can use these scents without growing the plants. You can use a spray bottle to distribute the scents around your yard.

The problem with homemade smell repellent is that it needs to be reapplied frequently especially after the rain.

You can use this method along with others on this list to keep the skunks away for good.

8. Sprinkle the spice

One simple deterrent you probably have on hand is kitchen spices. Skunks hate to be around spices as they are very irritating for their sensitive nose. Once the skunk smells the spice it makes them too uncomfortable to stick around to sniff out more food.

Spices can be sprinkled around the common areas where the skunks make a mess or entry points to your yard.

Try using these spices to deter skunks:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Flaked Chilli’s

Anything with capsicum will work well against skunks. You can even try hot sauce on plants that skunks are eating in your yard. The hot sauce won’t cause any damage to your plants. Avoid this method if children or pets will touch these plants.

9. Spray predator urine

The last thing that skunks want is to become a meal for a larger predator. If they suspect there is one in the area they will try to stay away to keep themselves safe.

Spraying predator urine around your yard is a great way to make the skunk think there is a large predator in the area marking their territory.

Coyote urine is the best to use (I recommend this one). However, you can also use red fox, bobcat, or wolf urine. Sometimes having two predator urines rotated can help prevent skunks for getting used to one scent and coming back.

I highly recommend spraying the predator urine around the perimeter of an entry point or denning area for the skunk.

10. Secure Your Garbage

Trash is a foraging goldmine for skunks. In urban areas, they can be found trying to raid trash cans at night. Once they get hold of the trash they will make a mess trying to get as much scrap food morsels as they can.

You’ll want to try and keep your trash can as protected as possible from the skunks. The best way to do this is to make sure you don’t put your trash out until the morning of collection.

If that’s not possible then you should at least place a trash can strap onto the lids (the strong strap brand is highly recommended). This will prevent the skunk from getting to the trash bags if the can is knocked over.

You can also lock your trash can in an outdoor unit to stop the skunks from getting close to the trash can. This can help to reduce garbage smells which will attract the skunks.

11. Clean up your yard

Having a well-maintained yard is a great way to discourage the skunk from coming around.

Clearing away things from trees including fruit and leave piles will deter the skunk from finding a denning place and a source of food.

Maintaining your lawn will also help to prevent June bugs from laying eggs on your lawn. These hatch into big juicy grubs that the skunks just love to dig for.  This is the reason you have lots of skunk holes in your lawn.

Check out my guide on how to prevent June bugs in your yard.

12. Skunk repellent

You can buy skunk repellent spray to keep skunk out of your yard.

The ingredients used in the sprays will depend on the brand you buy. But they’ll usually be made up of strong-smelling foods such as garlic, fish, castor oil, cloves, and mint. This one by Repel All is a best seller

The thing most commercial repellent sprays have in common is they help together with egg whites. This helps the spray last longer outdoors even after it rains.

I recommend spraying regularly until the skunks go. Then continue to spray sporadically to keep the skunks away for good.

13. Try Electronic repellents

To make the skunks want to avoid your yard like the plague then set up an electronic repellent.

These devices work by sending out high-pitched noises, flashing lights, or water sprays. Here are a few of the most popular brands you can buy.

You want the skunk to be startled and to make it uncomfortable for them to stick around to eat or make a den.

These devices are the best no-fuss option. The ones that are solar-powered need no maintenance at all. Plus they are quite inexpensive to buy.

Most models are motion-activated and will cover an area of around 30-35 feet. If you have a very large yard, or skunks visiting various spots then you may want to place a few in different areas.

14. Use cleaning products

There are a few cleaning products that you can use to keep skunks out of your yard. I bet you’ll probably have a few of these in your home already.

The first one is Irish spring soap. This is heavily scented and can be useful for keeping skunks away. You can break up large chunks or add grated soap around your yard.

Cleaning ammonia is another method you can use. I recommend spraying it around your yard. You can also use soaked cotton balls or rags hung in various places around your yard.

Just like other strong smells the skunk are irritated by these products. They won’t want to hang around to eat.

Removing skunks

In a guide about deterring skunks, you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned trapping or using a professional service to remove the skunk.

The reason isn’t that it’s not effective. It’s more to do with the fact that removing a skunk doesn’t deal with the initial problem. That is your yard is somehow attracting the skunks.

If you don’t deal with this issue then another skunk will simply come along and replace the old one. You’ll keep going around in circles until you do something about deterring them in the first place.

Plus professional skunk removal services can be quite expensive at around $150-$200 per removal. Imagine the cost that adds up to every time you need a skunk removed.

Final thoughts

You’ll see that there are lots of ways you can humanely keep skunks out of your yard. The idea is to annoy the skunks by making it uncomfortable for them to want to eat or build a den.

There is no need to harm the skunks as they will simply move onto another area where they can forage in peace.

Once they realize your yard isn’t very attractive to stay in then they’ll avoid it as much as possible.

All other methods require minimal effort to apply or maintain. I highly recommend using a few of them together for the best results against a persistent skunk.

Trust me if you use these regularly, your yard will be free from skunks in no time.

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