How to stop raccoons digging up your lawn.
Are raccoons digging up your newly installed sod?
A very common problem in our urban landscape.
Raccoons have made a habitat for themselves in the cities and suburbs, where they find food and shelter, which are plentiful, among our residences. Raccoons are “cavity nesters” in the wild, but this urban animal has loads of options in our modern neighbourhoods to find a safe place to sleep. Pavement is no problem when they can forage in the available food sources like garbage bins, food set out for family pets, and most unfortunately- our lawns.
They are clever, resourceful, and not very considerate of our property. Very destructive, in fact. The animals don’t recognize how much time we spend caring for, and cultivating our beautiful lawns and gardens, and leave them in a devastating mess in their search for food.
Raccoons are very persistent. They need to eat incessantly throughout the spring and summer seasons to store fat for the upcoming winter, when there might be less food sources. Being omnivores, they can eat just about anything they come across, and that persistent nature and the need to store body fat will have them coming back over and over again to a readily available food source. They’ll continue to return to a food site until it is no longer worth the energy, meaning—no more food is available or accessible.
If the raccoons are lifting up and digging in your freshly laid sod, that means they are finding a lot of tasty insects to feed on in your yard. It could be grubs, or it could be regular bugs and worms that enjoy the moisture that builds up under the fresh sod roll when it is being watered frequently after installation.
Once the raccoons find a food source, they will keep coming back to it and maybe even bring friends along. It’s not enough to just roll the sod back into place. The animals will just lift it up again when they come back, and grass that is frequently disturbed will not root adequately, if at all.
What you need to do if raccoons are using your freshly laid sod as a pantry:
1. Installation of protective netting.
Prevent them from having easy access by covering the entire area with bird netting or chicken wire. Fix everything into place using landscape clips. You can find all of these in hardware stores, garden centres, plant nurseries, or order them on Amazon. Raccoons are persistent, they will keep coming back and checking until it is not worth the energy they spend. Once the grass is firmly rooted, they will be unable to lift the sod and should be discouraged from returning- this is when it is safe to remove the netting from the grass. The raccoons are confused and frustrated by the plastic or wire, and may give up searching the area due to lack of reward for the difficulties they endure.
2. Check for grubs (usually applies to old grass, rarely is this the case for newly installed sod )
Remove the food sources if you need to, namely, if you have grubs, you need to use a treatment to get rid of them, otherwise the raccoons will keep coming back for the buffet (although they are technically doing your lawn a favor here, since the grubs would eat the roots of the grass, killing it and leaving brown patches, however, we do not recommend using the animals as a grub treatment method). Raccoons can smell the grubs in your lawn and will be drawn to it. There are lots of grub treatments available with varying rates of effective control.
If your old lawn has grubs, and you are considering installing new sod, we offer a preventative treatment- Wollastonite application. Wollastonite is a natural mineral that also acts as a natural fertilizer for your grass when it breaks down, strengthening the roots. Wollastonite is safe for kids and pets, it acts on the grubs through its micro-crystal structure that cuts any part of the insect they come in contact with, leading to dessication (they dry up).
Just because you have raccoons- doesn't mean that you have grubs. Other, beneficial insects such as worms, attract the raccoon to your newly installed sod, and netting is the most effective option to successfully prevent that.
3. Sprays, ultrasonic repellents, motion detectors, spices.
For really stubborn animals, you might need to pair the other actions with an additional deterrent method. There are deterrent sprays available that will repel the raccoons by making the soil taste bad and bitter, or sprays like coyote urine which makes them scared to enter the territory (be aware that for most city raccoons, coyotes are an unfamiliar threat and they might not recognize the smell as something they need to be stay away from). Some of our clients have had success with using just spices to deter the raccoons; red chili powder, black pepper, citrus zest, and cinnamon are recommended. There are also ultrasonic animal repellents, and motion detectors that spray water on the animal when it comes into the yard.
Every method will have varying results that are dependent on the location and lawn. You may need to try more than one. It might take a longer or shorter time for something to be effective, but the most important thing is to remove all food sources and access to them! That is the only reason that keeps the animals coming back and tearing up the grass—they are in search of a tasty meal. Resorting to animal control to get rid of the raccoons will only be a temporary solution—if there is food in your yard, there will be a family of raccoons that find it and feed on it, and they will definitely move into the vacated area, thus perpetuating the cycle of destruction.
Be aware that raccoons might return to your yard after you have cleared it of food sources and insect problems, however if they found food there in the past they may test the area again.
Don’t give up! They will be discouraged eventually, just be patient.
Please contact us if you would like us to install the protective netting over your freshly laid sod—it is the most effective method to keep the raccoons from rolling it up since they are physically unable to.
How to stop raccoons to dig up the sod in Concord, Maple, Woodbridge, Vaughan, North York, Markham, Scarborough, Newmarket, Kleinburg, Bradford, King City, East Gwillimbury, Brampton, Aurora, Etobicoke, Greater Toronto Area, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Toronto Ontario