Raccoons in the garden? Here are tips on how to combat these masked bandits!
Raccoons are nocturnal feeders that eat your sweet corn, though they also eat fruit trees, peas, potatoes, and grubs.
Even though wild raccoons prefer areas with trees and a source of water, more and more of them are raiding gardens because gardens are an easy source of food.
How to Identify Raccoons in your Garden
If your lawn has a lot of holes in it, or your mulch pile has a lot of holes, you probably have a nightly visitor. Raccoons will dig up lawns and mulch piles looking for insects to eat. They will also empty bird feeders as well, so keep an eye on those to see if you have a raccoon problem.
Of course, if you have corn, there's nothing more infuriating than finding stalks topped and ears ripped open and half eaten. (Even more frustrating is the idea, offered by animal researchers, that raccoons are wasteful because that don't really like sweet corn all that much; in fact, they seem to prefer sunflower seeds, dog food, and sardines.)
The persistence and proliferation of raccoons has inspired many solutions; one of them is bound to work for you.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
If your home is near your garden, remove any possible food sources from the area, including pet food and bird seed. Buy garbage cans with locking lids and keep inside a garage if possible. Keep pet doors sealed shut between dusk and dawn. Cap your chimneys. Seal any holes or gaps in attics and roofs.
- Spread newspapers around the perimeter of the garden and then spread mothballs on the newspapers.
- Scatter blood meal around corn plants.
- Tune a radio to a rock station and set it in the middle of your garden and/or corn patch. Leave it on all night. The noise will scare away the raccoons.
- Put lights in the garden. A bright lantern will sometimes keep Sun-shy raccoons away.
- Plant enough corn for man and beast alike.
- Grow tall varieties such as 'Silver Queen', 'Kandy Korn', and 'Lancelot'. Taller plants bear their ears higher, causing raccoons trouble getting leverage to topple stalks and ravage them. They prefer shorter plants.
- Build a good fence around your garden. Beware though, raccoons are agile and intelligent; make sure your fence will keep them out. You may need to install an electric fence. This is a good measure. A two-wire fence, with one wire four to six inches above the ground and the other at 12 inches, should be effective.
- Add some pinwheels and streamers to your garden to scare the creatures.
- Grind up garlic, mix it with an equal portion of chili powder, and spread it around the garden. Frequent applications are needed.
- You can try to repel raccoons by putting dog hair or human hair around the garden.
- Try sprinkling wood ashes around your plants.
- Hang shoes and clothes that smell of human perspiration around your garden or corn patch.
- You can also plant squash around your corn or other plants to deter raccoons; they don't like walking on the prickly squash vines.
- If your raccoon problem is persistent, you can set humane, live traps in your garden and release the animal at least three miles away. Raccoons will eat virtually anything; try fish-flavored dry cat food, chicken necks, ears of corn, or whole peanuts for bait. (Note: Be aware that many species of wildlife do not survive when placed in a new territory so consider this decision carefully.)
- Keep a dog in the yard—a good dog who doesn't mind the night shift. This will save you a lot of corn, but, on the other hand, you may be too tired from lack of sleep to pick it.