When it comes to garden care, burrowing animals are among my biggest pet peeves.
They wreak havoc on my carefully nurtured plants and mess up the pristine landscapes I try to maintain, which can be quite disheartening after spending hours tending to my backyard!
Several pests tend to burrow in the ground, with the most problematic being groundhogs, moles, and voles. Marmots are also a big problem and can cause extensive damage.
While it’s true that certain burrowing animals can be good for your ecosystem, the vast majority pose a significant threat to a garden’s health and aesthetics.
If you’re tired of dealing with the damage caused by burrowing pests in your garden, stick around.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about burrowing animals, including factors that attract them to your yard and how to stop animals from digging in your yard.
Top 3 Reasons Why Animals Dig In the Yard
Before you start looking at effective ways to combat the problem and come up with a solution, it’s important to understand exactly why these animals dig in your yard in the first place. So, here are the most popular reasons:
1. Foraging for Food
One of the main reasons why most animals, such as raccoons, skunks, and moles, dig up your garden is because they’re usually foraging for food.
They can find fruit or nuts that fall from the trees or human food that we accidentally drop in our yard to snack on.
Also, if an animal stored some food in your garden, they’re probably going to return to the same place that they stored it earlier. Essentially, they can turn your yard into a food-storing unit!
2. Building Burrows or Nests
Some animals, such as rabbits and groundhogs, dig to create burrows or nests to protect themselves and their young.
They use these spots to give birth and take care of their babies until they’re strong enough to live on their own.
3. Hunting Prey
Predatory animals, i.e., those that actively hunt and consume other animals for food, may dig to access burrows of smaller animals or to uncover hidden prey.
Some of these animals include raccoons, skunks, feral cats, and foxes.
Grubs: Menaces Beneath Your Garden Soil
One of the key reasons why animals burrow in different gardens is because they’re looking for grubs (the larva of an insect).
Even if your lawn is healthy and in good condition, it’s still common for you to find as many as five grubs per square foot.
If your lawn is of an average size of roughly 5,000 square feet, you’re generally looking at around 25,000 grubs. That’s a lot of grubs, and animals aren’t simply going to sit and let the food pass them by!
Raccoons and skunks love to eat grubs. Skunks generally make shallow holes in the ground, aided by the loose soil. On the other hand, raccoons use their front paws to pull out clumps of sod and then flip them over whenever they can spot any grubs in the ground.
When one of these digging animals finds a food source, there’s a high possibility that it’ll come back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths…). So, the first thing you need to do is to identify if you have a grub problem.
Finding spots of dead brown grass around your lawn is one of the most obvious signs that your lawn is infested with grubs. Grubs feed on grass roots, disrupting the plants’ health and causing visible damage.
With time, the patches of brown leaves are going to get bigger and eventually join up as the grubs continue to expand over their feeding zone.
Identifying a Grub Infestation
To properly identify a grub infestation in your yard, here’s what you need to do:
- Get a liquid-based detergent.
- Mix four tablespoons of that detergent with at least one gallon of water.
- Soak the affected areas with this solution, along with the green grass close to the brown patches.
If you notice grubs coming to the surface within a few minutes, this is a positive indicator of a grub infestation.
Keep in mind that this method isn’t going to end up killing the grubs, so you’ll want to consider using a suppression treatment instead.
How to Get Rid of Grubs
When you identify a grub infestation in your yard, the next obvious step is to get rid of it. Thankfully, this isn’t much of a problem.
Getting rid of larvae is as easy as applying a suitable grub control product to your lawn. Here are some options to consider:
1. Natural Treatment and Products
Many people try to avoid using chemicals on their lawns. If you’re one of those people, the easiest way to eliminate grubs is through natural treatment sprays and products, such as nematodes or milky spores.
Nematodes are living organisms that enter the bodies of these tiny grubs and release bacteria that end up killing them.
On the other hand, milky spores create a disease that eventually makes the environment unfavorable in the soil, so grubs tend to leave the area or die.
Apply the chosen control product during the grub’s vulnerable stages, typically late spring to early fall. After a while, you’ll notice the number of grubs reducing.
2. Avoid Watering for Several Weeks
Grubs grow from eggs like other insect larvae, so water is an essential requirement for them to survive.
Therefore, another low-impact method to get rid of the infestation is to take advantage of natural weather conditions during the summer months and avoid watering for several weeks to a month.
Withholding water for a limited period has minimal impact on well-established plants, as they can often withstand brief periods of drought without compromising their overall health.
How to Stop Animals From Digging in Your Yard
As mentioned above, grubs aren’t the only reason animals tend to dig in your yard. Even if you took care of this problem, there’s still a strong chance that animals will continue digging in your garden.
So, what else can you do?
1. Use Conventional Repellent Methods
Many gardeners use a variety of household items to take care of the animal digging problem.
Common items such as coffee grounds and garlic powder are quite effective at keeping harmful rodents at bay.
If you notice active tunnels around your yard, you can just sprinkle it all around the tunnels.
There are also a host of different commercial products available in the market that are designed to keep burrowing animals at bay.
Most of the conventional repellents available in the market are castor-oil-based, so you can easily use them around pets or children. There’s also an advanced repellent method available in the market.
Sonic spikes are pretty effective at keeping rodents at bay. These spikes tend to emit high-frequency noises that the human ear cannot hear, but animals can. They’re designed to scare off the animals.
While they are pretty effective at first, you should know that animals tend to understand that these are just noises, and they can eventually overcome their fear. So, you can expect mixed results from these things.
2. Build Underground Barriers
What better way to keep unwanted visitors from your property than to build barriers?
For instance, an underground fence that’s made of mesh hardware cloth is pretty effective at keeping out burrowing animals.
Remember, these animals tend to move under the ground, so putting a fence above the ground isn’t that effective.
If you want to prevent them from getting into your flower beds, the ideal thing to do is to install a simple mesh fence underground. Make sure that it’s around at least three feet under the ground.
While the initial labor required is pretty intensive, the long-term benefits of placing a fence under and around your garden are incomparable to any other method.
Here’s how to create a fence to prevent animals from digging in your garden:
- Start by digging a trench at least three feet deep in your garden.
- Bend the bottom of the hardware cloth to a full 90 degrees, creating a flat six-inch surface at the base of the fence.
- Insert the fence into the trench so that the flat edge protrudes outward, and make sure it extends at least 15 to 20 inches above the ground.
- Once the fence is in place, put the soil back into the trench.
3. Use Humane Traps
This might not be the most efficient method, but if you’re unable to do anything else, you should consider placing humane traps all around the yard.
Use humane traps all around the property, so when you catch the animals, you can call animal services. If animal services aren’t available, carefully relocate the animal at least 10 miles from your house.
To improve the trap’s effectiveness, add a few incentives in them. Use some food items that have a strong smell to attract digging animals, such as bacon, cheese, or peanut butter, depending on the rodent you’re trying to catch.
Once you’ve laid out the traps, check them regularly in the morning. Many burrowing animals love to dig up the yard at night because they’re mostly nocturnal, like possums and skunks.
That’s why the chances of them getting caught at night are considerably greater. Within a few days, these animals are going to die, so it’s important that you take action right away and not leave them in the traps for too long.
When building or buying a trap, ensure it is suitable for the size of the animal you intend to catch. For instance, if you have raccoons in your yard, use a trap that’s approximately 32 x 10 x 12 inches.
Larger animals, such as opossums or stray cats, may require traps in the range of 36 x 12 x 12 inches. On the other hand, smaller pests like squirrels or rabbits are effectively captured with traps around 24 x 7 x 7 inches.
4. Get Rid of Attractions
To mitigate the likelihood of attracting unwanted wildlife, consistently clear away potential food sources from your garden, such as acorns and fallen fruit from an oak tree.
It’s a lot of work, but if you want to keep your garden in prime condition, this is what you have to do!
Getting rid of fallen fruit from your garden not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also prevents animals from being attracted to potential food sources.
These food items tend to give off a pretty strong scent, making them one of the prime attractions for animals.
Additionally, woodpiles and shrubs around the yard might prove to be a source of encouragement for them, causing them to return.
5. Repair the Holes
Once you have gotten rid of the animals from your yard and taken considerable protective measures, you’ll need to restart the repairs and carry out landscaping on your yard.
First, locate and fill the holes in your yard with soil, then use the underside of a shovel to level the whole thing.
If there are any holes near the house, check them carefully for any signs of structural damage and perform necessary repairs.
If you have doubts that the wall surrounding your property has sustained damage or is sagging, get in touch with a local building company.
The builders will visit your place and check for any signs of structural damage and then let you know about the costs of repairs.
In most cases, rodents can’t cause significant harm to the walls of your house, but as they say: it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
These are just a few simple things that you can do to prevent animals from digging holes in your yard. It’s going to require a considerable amount of effort in your yard, but if you don’t want these holes all over, you have to do it!
I hope this article on how to stop animals digging in your yard gave you a headstart on maintaining a pristine and undisturbed outdoor space.
By implementing the strategies above, such as using barriers and traps and limiting the attractions, you can effectively deter these pesky animals and preserve the beauty of your yard. Good luck and happy gardening!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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