How to keep Skunks out of the Garden
Because skunks are omnivores, gardens can present them with foraging
opportunities, both to dig for grubs and to enjoy your veggies. And
once they’ve identified your garden as a convenient and rewarding
food source, the animals will often become repeat visitors. So to
protect the fruits (vegetables) of your labors, the best idea is to
fence the critters out.
Chicken wire mesh is the best excluder material. Use it to surround
the garden plot and support it with poles spaced a few feet apart.
The fence should be about three feet high and since skunks are good
diggers, the barrier fencing should extend about a foot underground
so the animals can’t dig their way under it with their long, strong
An often easier alternative to building a fence is the use of
chemical repellents, some of which can be derived from common
kitchen products while others are commercially available at hardware
and pet stores. Importantly, skunks forage with their noses close to
the ground – a natural instinct that supports their search for
ground-dwelling grubs and insects. It also renders them susceptible
to the chemical repellants, which can be applied easily using a
pesticide sprayer or even a spray bottle.
One of the most common and conveniently available repellents is
mothballs, which can be sprinkled in and around the garden and which
offend the skunk’s olfactory sense as it sniffs its way along the
ground. Similarly, capsaicin -based hot sauces applied to the food
sources can quickly discourage their nibbling, and castor oil
sprayed on plants leaves them with a taste the animals find
unpalatable. Ammonia-soaked rags around the perimeter of a garden
can discouraging their entry and for further protection the rags can
also be situated in especially susceptible spots around the plot.
Garden centers offer a number of chemical repellents that are
effective for use in gardens. Among these are pepper solutions that
can be sprayed on skunks’ potential food sources. Various products
initially developed as dog and cat repellents are also effective
against skunks as are products derived from predator urine. These
can be obtained at pet stores and garden centers.
Physical repellent devices can also be available, including
motion–activated sprinkler systems and strobe light installations
that turn on when the animals approach, startling them into leaving.
The main problem with most chemically oriented solutions, whether
commercial or kitchen-based, is their lack of longevity. Many
dissipate over a short period of time or are washed away by
sprinkler systems or rain showers and have to be reapplied. So if
you have the time, energy and materials, the fence is the best
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