20 Easy Ways to Pest Proof Your Yard

Use common household items to keep pesky squirrels, rabbits, deer, and snakes out of your yard all year long. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
4-minute read

Peppermint for pests

Mice, moles, squirrels, gophers, and even rats hate the aroma of peppermint. Try planting mint near your home—chances are you will never see one of these pests again!

For a preexisting gopher problem, soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and then drop them down a gopher hole.

Hide away the sandbox

Cats trying to make a sandbox a litterbox? Design a more protected play area by setting up a small tent, then cover the bottom with sand. Comb a cup or so of ground cinnamon into the sand to keep out ants, centipedes, and other pests, and zip up after each use.

Use human hair to fool a snake

Believe it or not, snakes dislike humans just as much as we dislike them. To keep snakes out of your yard, it can be as easy as letting them know humans live there! To do this, save the hair from your hairbrush, and sprinkle it around the perimeter of your property. Snakes will smell the hair and keep away.

Recycle dog hair

Have a dog that sheds like crazy? Save the clumps and poke them into an old grapevine wreath. Hang it (and its repellent scent!) on a stake in the garden to chase away rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and other unwanted creatures.

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A “fresh” way to fight squirrels

Squirrels can be one of the trickiest garden pests to deal with. They chomp on flower bulbs and other leaves, dig up your favorite plants, and otherwise wreak havoc. Protect your garden by grating some Irish Spring soap around your plants. Squirrels can’t stand the smell of it and will stay away.

Toy with squirrels

You can buy expensive baffles to keep squirrels from climbing poles to your bird feeder. But there’s a simple solution you may already have around the house: a slinky! Just wrap it around the top of the pole so that it extends down around it and creates a bouncy obstacle.

See also: How to Get Rid of Raccoons, Possums, and Skunks in Your Yard

So long, squirrels

If squirrels are making a nuisance of themselves around your home, keep them away with a homemade pepper spray. Take a cup of your favorite hot sauce, add a spoonful of cayenne pepper and a capful of Murphy’s Oil Soap, and mix together. Spray the mixture in whatever areas you want the squirrels to steer clear of.

Out with opossums

If possums are a problem in your yard, mix together camphor oil with enough petroleum jelly to make a paste, and spread it around the base of trees. The smell should keep them away.

Rabbit-repelling plants

If rabbits eat your garden year after year, try planting plants that repel them. These include amaryllis, bleeding hearts, daylilies, English ivy, ferns, forget-me-nots, foxglove, impatiens, and pachysandra. Rabbits also hate certain trees, such as cedar, magnolia, maple, oak, pine, and spruce.

Another bunny buster

With the help of some vinegar, you can keep rabbits from overrunning your garden. First poke a few holes in a pill bottle, then soak 3 or 4 cotton balls with vinegar and place them inside. Bury them just under the soil and the smell will keep rabbits away.

Befuddle birds

Birds (and their droppings) driving you crazy on your deck? Keep them away with baking or baby powder. Sprinkle it where they like to land, and they’ll find somewhere else to go. They hate the feeling of it under their feet!

Call old CDs into action

Tie old CDs wherever you want to scare away birds. They’re perfect to keep the flocks from feasting on your fruit trees!

See also: How to Keep Birds Away From Your Patio, Pool, and Garden

So long, skunks

Mothballs aren’t just for moths. Sprinkle them around your yard, and they’ll keep skunks away. Just be careful, as they’re harmful to your pet should he decide to eat them!

Reclaim your yard from raccoons

Have the raccoons grown rather bold around your backyard and trash cans? Try this equivalent of a phony “Beware of Dog” sign by distributing dog hair around your property.

You can also try planting cucumbers to get rid of pests, which both skunks and raccoons avoid like the plague.

Keep pests out of your trash

To keep raccoons, possums, and other critters out of your garbage, regularly spray the side of your cans with a mixture of one part ammonia and one part water.

Chase deer with common scents

Hanging small pieces of a deodorant bar soap on trees will keep deer from munching on them. Or hang some dryer sheets around your garden. The smell will keep the deer away.

A not-so-welcome mat for deer

It sounds crazy, but laying old rugs or carpet samples around the outside of your garden in a path about 4 feet wide will turn deer away. They’re suspicious of the texture and won’t put a hoof on it!

A deer barrier border

Plant thick rows of gladiolas around garden areas you don’t want deer to enter. Deer don’t eat glads and also won’t cross through them—no matter how tempting the plants on the other side.

Pet-proof the garden

Instead of throwing out orange, lemon, and lime peels, chop them up for use in your garden! If you sprinkle citrus rinds directly on the soil, you’ll keep cats, dogs, and other neighborhood animals away from your precious plants.

Foil pests

If you’ve ever bitten into a shred of foil that had gotten stuck to a piece of candy, you know how unpleasant the sensation is. Rodents hate the feeling of foil between their teeth, too, so placing strips of foil in your garden mulch will help deter rodents and some bugs. If rodents are eating the bark of your tree, you can also wrap the trunk in foil.

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.