Raccoons are one of the most annoying pests to deal with if they’ve decided your home is a great place to hang out. They will get into your garbage, tear apart your garden, dig holes under your deck or shed, nest in your attic and scare away birds and other pets. There are many things to can do to help prevent a raccoon from making themselves comfortable or making a mess in your backyard. Though you might think of other steps you can take depending on what they’re getting into in your yard, these 7 tactics will help you get ahead of the problem before it gets too bad.

1. Watch your garbage

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One of the strongest draws for a raccoon is your garbage can and any bags you might leave out in your yard. Keep a lid on your trash bin and make sure to put any loose garbage bags in it immediately to prevent raccoons from finding this appealing food source. If your lid doesn’t seal tightly you may want to consider keeping a cinder block  or weight on top so they can’t open the lid themselves.

2. Remove any food sources in your yard

Raccoons love to feast on pet food, bird seed and fallen fruit from backyard trees. If you have any of these in your yard, you’ll want to put them away each night so they don’t draw in backyard pests. If bringing in a bird feeder each night isn’t easy to do, use a raccoon proof bird feeder or a shepherd’s hook to prevent them from climbing to the feeder.

3. Clean up your yard

Raccoons are constantly entering yards looking for safe place to hide and create a den to prepare for baby season. If your yard has any brush, bushes, fallen trees or logs or other spaces they could hide in you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible to help make your yard less appealing to them.

4 .Install a fence around danger zones

Spaces like gardens, ponds, compost piles and fresh grass are significant draws for curious raccoons. They will be happy to dig for food in any of these areas so installing an electric fence is often the best solution. A regular fence might work, but can be easily climbed or dug under by determined critters.

5. Seal off spaces under your deck and shed

Raccoons are always looking for the perfect space to hide. The dark, cool and quiet spaces under a shed or deck provide an excellent place for them to create a den to get ready to have babies.

6. Ensure there’s no gaps or holes in your fence or gate

While raccoons can be determined pests, taking steps to seal up any holes or cracks in your fence and gaps in your gate can help deter them from trying to get into your yard.

7. Seal your attic and chimney

These small spaces are a prime target for an opportunistic raccoon. Chimneys and attics both offer shelter that’s hidden, dark and quiet so they will be one of the first places a raccoon will try to enter, especially if they are looking for a place to create a den. Install a wire mesh over your chimney and cover any holes in your soffits or vents to help prevent their entry.

Keep those Raccoons out now

When they get into your yard and start wreaking havoc raccoons can be quite the pest. The sooner you can take steps to prevent them from getting comfortable in your yard the more likely you are to avoid any significant issues from them. Keeping your yard clean with food sources put away and entrance points sealed can help you prevent some serious issues down the road and help ensure you won’t need  professional help to get them removed.