How to Stop Animals from Digging Holes in Your Yard

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How to Stop Animals from Digging Holes in Your Yard

If you’ve ever found holes in your yard that have been dug by animals, you know just how frustrating it can be. Not only is it an eyesore, but it can also be a safety hazard and cause damage to your property. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to stop animals from digging holes in your yard. Here, we’ll cover the common culprits and how you can prevent them from wreaking havoc on your lawn or garden.

Keep reading to learn more about how to stop animals from digging holes in your yard.

Why are Animals Digging in My Yard?

Animals dig for a few reasons. Identifying the reason for the digging can be helpful because it may shed light on how you can prevent this from happening. Here are some of the most common reasons why animals are digging in your yard.

Looking for Food

Many animals, such as raccoons and moles, dig holes in yards to look for food. These types of mammals are known as “scratchers,” because they scratch away the top layer of your yard looking for insects, grubs, and other critters.

Areas with loose soil or soil that has been turned over are preferred by these animals when looking for food. This can be frustrating if you have a lawn full of seeding grass because it will make your entire yard look like an animal has been digging around.

And worst of all, animals tend to return to spots where they’ve found food. If they’ve found food in your yard, they’ll probably keep coming back until you put an end to it.

Scent Marking

Some animals, namely dogs and cats will use their paws to dig small holes in order to mark their territory with scent from glands located on the bottom of their feet. Pet owners may notice that their dogs or cats will paw at the ground, leaving a trail of scent as they walk around their lawn and garden. These glands typically emit a strong odor and it is generally combined with urine.

If this is what’s causing your yard to become riddled with holes, then you’ll likely see more than one animal– because it’s marking their territory. This means that you could potentially have several animals digging up your lawn in an attempt to mark their area as theirs.

Trying to Get Out

Some animals may dig holes in your yard if they’re trying to escape from an enclosure or another spot where they’ve been locked up. Raccoons are known for this behavior; when frightened or angry, they may try to burrow through any opening they can find.

This behavior can also be seen in animals that are kept in captivity, such as dogs who have been chained up in the backyard or cats who are stuck in a cage. If you notice that your animal is trying to escape by digging holes, it’s best to find a way to let them out and stop them from getting into trouble.

What Problems Does It Cause?

The holes dug by animals can cause a number of problems for your lawn and potentially even for your home.

For starters, the holes can be a major eyesore. They can also make your lawn difficult to mow and can damage seeding grass.

If the holes are dug near your home, they could even provide an easy entrance for pests or other animals. Many animals leave burrows near homes. These tunnels can harbor pests such as gophers and mice.

In some cases, safety issues can also be a factor. For example, the tunnels dug by moles and voles can make the ground soft and weak. If someone is walked on the lawn and steps on top of an underground tunnel without knowing it, they could fall or twist an ankle.

What Kind of Animals Dig in Your Yard?

Part of the prevention process is to identify the type of animal that is doing the digging. When you know what animal is digging and why it’s digging, it’s much easier to prevent. With that in mind, here are some of the animals that are often responsible for holes in lawns and gardens.

Moles

Moles are insectivores; these small mammals eat grubs and worms. Since grubs and worms live in the soil, moles love to make their home underneath yards and gardens where they can get a good meal.

If you see mounds of dirt on your lawn, there is a good chance that there is a mole tunneling underground nearby.

Voles

Voles are also known as meadow mice. They eat a variety of things but prefer to dine on the roots of plants. This means that voles can cause serious damage to your garden or lawn by eating away at the roots of your grass and other plants.

Like moles, voles create tunnels underground. The mounds of dirt that they leave behind are very similar to what you’ll see from a mole, so it can be difficult to tell which one you’re dealing with. Since voles eat plants and moles don’t check for damage to plants near the tunnels. If you see plant damage in addition to tunnels, it’s probably caused by a vole.

Raccoon

As mentioned earlier, raccoons are often attracted to yards that have been dug up by other animals. They commonly dig in an attempt to find food, but can also start digging holes if they’re trying to escape from something.

If you have a raccoon problem, you may notice that they’re digging holes that are much larger than other animals.

Gophers

These rodents tend to be naturally shy but they may become territorial when it’s mating season. They’re responsible for many holes in yards because they dig very deep tunnels just below the surface of lawns in order to escape from predators or each other.

Gophers also like to eat the roots of plants, so they can cause damage to your yard in addition to the holes they dig.

Groundhogs

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are herbivores that love to eat vegetables, fruits, and flowers. They’re notorious for digging holes in yards, especially around the edges of gardens.

Like other animals that dig holes in yards, groundhogs can cause problems by disrupting the appearance of your lawn and garden and by damaging plants.

Skunks

Skunks are omnivores. They eat a variety of things, but they love grubs and beetles that live in the soil of your yard. When skunks dig holes in the lawn, they aren’t discriminating about what they’re looking for – they’ll take grubs or insects where they can get them.

Squirrels

Squirrels are another animal that can be attracted to a yard that has been dug up by other animals. They tend to dig shallow holes in search of food, but they can also damage plants by chewing on them.

Chipmunks

Chipmunks are very similar to squirrels in their habits. They, too, dig shallow holes in search of food and can damage plants by chewing on them.

Rabbits

Rabbits are herbivores that love to eat flowers, vegetables, and fruits. They’re responsible for many holes in yards because they dig small tunnels just below the surface of the lawn to help them get to plants without being seen by predators.

Related: The Best Rabbit Repellent for Your Yard or Garden

Dogs

Dogs dig holes at times, but it’s usually for fun or entertainment. Unlike other animals, they’re not looking for food or shelter. They may be following their instincts to bury something that they want to protect. Young puppies that have a lot of energy are likely to dig just for entertainment.

Feral cats

Cats who were once tame but end up in the wild often revert to their old outdoor behaviors–such as digging holes. Cats who have been kept inside for a long time may be particularly prone to this behavior. They may feel confined indoors and will try to get outside any way they can by digging underneath doors or windows so they can escape into the yard. If you notice that your cat is trying to dig its way out of your home, it’s best to take steps to prevent this behavior from continuing.

How to Identify the Animals Digging in Your Yard

If you’re not sure what animal is causing the holes in your yard, there are a few things you can look for to help you identify them.

Moles, voles, and gophers all create tunnels underground. You may see mounds of dirt that they’ve dug out from the tunnel, and you may even be able to see where the tunnel goes as it’s often only a few inches below the surface. The ground may be soft on top of the tunnels.

Raccoons and groundhogs create holes that are much larger than other animals. They also like to eat the roots of plants, so you may see damage to your yard near where they’ve been digging.

Skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and dogs all create holes that are typically smaller than the ones created by raccoons and groundhogs. You may not see any damage to your yard near where they’ve been digging, aside from the hole itself.

Cats who are trying to escape from your home will dig several very small holes close together.

How to Stop Animals From Digging Holes in Your Yard

Now that we’ve talked about why animals dig, why it’s a problem, and the specific types of animals you may be dealing with, let’s move on and cover a number of effective ways to stop the digging and prevent it from happening in the future.

You may have some luck and achieve the results you’re looking for with the first method you try. If not, keep trying other methods on this list until you find something that stops the digging.

1. Repellents

There are a number of repellents that you can use to try to stop animals from digging in your yard. One popular type of repellent is made with castor oil. You can buy it at most hardware stores, and all you have to do is put it in a spray bottle and apply it to the areas where you don’t want the animals to dig. This is a natural and non-toxic option, so it’s preferred by many people.

You can also use scents to scare animals away. For example, most animals are scared of humans so you can use human hair clippings, a sweaty t-shirt, or something else that gives off a human scent.

DIY repellants like soap and water may also work. Simply mix a tablespoon of dish soap with a gallon of water and spray it on the areas you don’t want the animals to dig.

If you’re using a repellent, be sure to reapply it every few weeks or after it rains because the repellent will get washed away.

Another type of repellent is called “scare tape.” It’s a black and white ribbon that frightens the animals when they see it. You can attach it to stakes and place it around the areas where you don’t want the animals to dig.

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Of course, you can also buy repellents that are made to keep specific animals out of your yard. If you know the type of animal you’re dealing with, this approach may be effective.

When you’re using repellants that are sprayed, remember that they’ll need to be applied every couple of weeks. They’ll lose effectiveness with time or get washed away by rain, so reapplication is almost always necessary.

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2. Physical Barrier or Fence

You can also use physical barriers to stop animals from digging in your yard. One common way to do this is by installing a fence. Of course, the fence should be made out of materials that the animal can’t dig or chew through.

A physical barrier may work better than a repellent. If you want to keep raccoons out of your yard, for instance, a fence will be much more effective than a repellant that is only supposed to scare away animals.

You can also use a border or wall that’s made from concrete or wood to protect an area where you don’t want the animals digging.

3. Get Rid of Attractions

If you have a compost pile in your yard, or if there are any other attractions that are drawing the animals to your yard, you’ll need to get rid of them. This may mean moving your compost pile somewhere else or getting rid of the attraction altogether.

You should also make sure that there is no food for the animals to eat in your yard. This means keeping the grass trimmed short and getting rid of any fruit or nuts that may be on the ground.

Trash can also attract animals, like raccoons. Make sure trash cans are tightly closed and that all trash makes it into the can. Consider a lock for your trashcan if this is an ongoing issue. Do not leave bags of trash, especially containing food, outside next to a trash can if you don’t want to attract animals.

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4. Using Nematodes to Reduce Grubs

If you’re dealing with animals that are digging in your yard because they’re looking for food, you may be able to reduce the number of grubs in your yard. Grubs are a favorite food of many animals, so reducing the number of grubs will make the animals less likely to dig in your yard.

One way to reduce the number of grubs is by using nematodes. Nematodes are tiny worms that eat the grubs and kill them. You can buy nematodes at most garden stores or online.

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When applying nematodes, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. They need to be watered in well and should only be used when the ground is wet.

You’ll also want to apply nematodes every few months since they won’t stay in your yard permanently.

5. Motion Activated Lights or Sprinklers

Another option that’s usually effective is to use motion-activated lights or sprinklers.

Motion-activated lights are a great way to scare animals away without having to use any chemicals or other types of repellents. All you need is a light that will turn on when it detects movement. Since most animals dig at night, these lights are great at scaring them off.

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You can also use sprinklers to scare animals away. When the animal walks through the detection area, the sprinkler will go off and spray them with water. This is a non-toxic way to scare animals away and doesn’t harm them.

Just be sure that you place the sprinkler in an area where it won’t be a problem for anything else. Motion-activated sprinklers will only go off when an animal steps into a specific area, so you can place them in your yard around the holes that the animals are digging to keep them from going back there.

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6. Keep Pet Food Inside Your House

Another thing that can attract animals is pet food. If you have pets outside, keep the food inside to keep it away from wild animals.

You may also want to pick up any extra food that your pets leave lying around after they eat. Don’t leave any scraps of food on the ground, because this can lure in raccoons and other animals looking for a free meal.

7. Keep Your Lawn Trimmed Short

Grass and weeds will draw in many types of wildlife and rodents, so keeping your lawn trimmed short is another great way to prevent them from digging holes in your yard. It’s best to do this regularly as part of regular landscaping rather than waiting until there’s already a problem with animals digging up your yard.

8. Keep Fallen Fruit Off The Ground

One of the best ways to prevent this is by picking up any fruit that falls off trees in your yard before the animals can get it. This will keep them from digging in your yard because they won’t find anything there for them to eat.

9. Live Traps

One of the last options you have is to set up live traps to catch animals that are digging in your yard. With a live trap, the animal is not harmed. Once you have it, you can take it somewhere else and release it.

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Traps can be effective, but keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of control over what you catch. Any animal, including pets, could wander into the trap.

10. Repairing the Holes

Finally, if all else fails, you can try repairing the holes that the animals are digging. This is a temporary fix, but it can discourage them from continuing.

11. Toxic Baits

You can also use toxic baits to kill the animals that are digging in your yard, however, this should be a last resort. This is a more extreme option and may not be legal where you live.

Before using any of these methods, check with local authorities to make sure they’re legal and safe to use in your area.

You should also only use toxic bait if you know what type of animal you’re dealing with. You don’t want to accidentally kill the neighbor’s dog or cat.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get rid of grubs in my yard?

To prevent grubs from digging holes in your yard, you’ll need to eliminate the food source. Apply nematodes once or twice a year to prevent them from coming back.

How does Dawn dish soap get rid of burrowing animals?

Dawn dish soap doesn’t hurt the animals, but they don’t like it, so they go somewhere else. The effect will wear off though, so you may need to apply it every few weeks.

How do you fill an animal burrow?

You can fill an animal burrow with dirt, rocks, or branches. Be sure to pack it down so the animal can’t dig its way back in.

What should I do if I trap an animal in my live trap?

If you trap an animal in your live trap, you’ll need to relocate it somewhere else. Contact your local animal control office for more information.

What animal digs large holes in my yard?

The animal that digs large holes in your yard is most likely a groundhog. Other animals that may dig holes in your yard include raccoons, skunks, opossums, and moles.

Final Thoughts on How to Stop Animals from Digging Holes in Your Yard

There are many ways how to stop animals from digging holes in your yard, but the best way to prevent this is by eliminating their food source. You can do this by keeping your lawn trimmed short, picking up fallen fruit, and keeping pet food inside your house. If all else fails, you can try repairing the holes that the animals are digging or setting up live traps to catch them.

It’s important to note that these methods aren’t foolproof and you may need to use a combination of all of them in order to stop the animals from digging in your yard.

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