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Raccoons and cats traverse my urban back yard every night. That's fine. I'd like to reduce their interest in defecating on the soil. It attracts flies, we don't know what they've been eating, noone wants to step on it. Presently I follow the flies to the deposits and take them out with a trowel -- regularly, so it's getting old.

They seem to prefer to use drier ground, and indeed, it's dry here most of the year. What can I do to make the garden less appealing as a crapper?

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I have a similar problem with cats in my yard. I've read a number of things that can help, but first I'll explain what does help for me (I'm not sure about for raccoons, though):

  1. Grow thick plants that are at least a couple feet tall, wherein the cats cannot step anywhere without stepping on 2'+ tall plants. I'm not sure exactly why this deters cats, since they could just walk all over and through the plants like a jungle creature, but it prevents cats from entering the main body of our garden in the backyard. They don't look any more interested in walking through them than your average person might. Some example plants include such as sprawling tomatoes, melons and watermelon. They do need to be growing thick, though (no dirt visible).

A more impenetrable, taller hedge that may even deter raccoons (and will survive somewhat colder temperatures) is Morelle De Balbis. They have thorns and they grow nice little white flowers (and edible red fruits). However, how many plants you grow per spot matters a lot. You can sprout a bunch of plants in one container, and transplant them all in one spot (one spot per container of plants); then you'll get a much thicker hedge. Plant each container of plants 1 to 2 feet apart. I tried that, this year (not as a hedge, though), and they grow and fruit just fine like that. They look like they'd make a great hedge that way. With only one plant per spot, they don't look at all like a hedge in my yard. I have lots of seeds if you need some.

I haven't looked into perennial plants suitable for colder zones that might work all year round. Also, it will definitely make the yard more inaccessible to humans, too. For me, I still walk through the plants (but no one else does without encouragement, as far as I know). I've seen a cat just staring longingly at the plot of plants as if she really wanted to go in, but she wouldn't go in, even if she saw me do it.

  1. Getting the ground wet can sometimes deter cats for a while.

  2. I've tried putting Cayenne pepper in the soil, and it seemed to work, for that year, but I really don't know if it was the reason the cats stopped there.

  3. Snow. Cats don't like to poop in snow. They'll still poop at the sides of your house that are snow-free.

Okay, I've heard that putting plastic forks or something like that in the ground or tin foil on the ground can deter some cats. I'm not sure about raccoons. I've heard cats don't like citrus.

You might like trying laying down some astroturf, black plastic or such. Then they won't be able to poop through that, and I don't recall ever seeing cats poop on black plastic in our yard.

You might try mulching. I haven't seen cats poop in our bark mulch.

Growing any kind of plants (even if they're short or soft enough for cats to walk on) should reduce the amount of poop you get there. Cats like to dig, and it's hard to dig through plants.

Cats also don't seem to like pooping in compact, clay soil (they can't dig very easily in it). You do need to make sure that it is compacted, however.

  • Awesome, detailed listing! I especially like the part about snow. Not sure it's that helpful in practice (snow, i mean), but it is a testament to the thoroughness of your research. Thank you, Shule. – Lorel C. Aug 25 '17 at 3:47
  • Lorel...did anyone mention that raccoon poop, cat poop is good for the soil? I got cats from the neighborhood that patrol my vegey garden regularly and leave their poop...but they usually cover it up. If the poop is covered with soil the flies won't bother. That is why cats, raccoons, possums, and ha ha dogs at least TRY to cover their excrement with soil. – stormy Aug 26 '17 at 2:13
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I'm thinking that maybe adding a natural, humane irritant to the earth. Cayenne pepper spray even keeps cats away from unwanted areas. I'm sure a lot of things would deter them as well.

  • Grow some cacti if it's too dry for other deterant Plants – Gary Aug 25 '17 at 1:01
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As mentioned above I've also read that cayenne pepper spray will deter raccoons. In addition, perhaps you can determine the reason for the visit in the first place. Make sure trash cans have secure lids, rinse out the trash can if it gets dirty to remove any food odors, don't put trash out at night, clean up food debris from yard like fallen berries and tree fruit, pet food, bird feeder seeds. Raccoons have even been known to hunt fish from fish ponds. The goal here is to reduce the reasons for raccoons to visit in the first place which would be food and water.

Possibly, and especially because you are seeing a lot of raccoon poop they may be nesting in your yard. Check around your roof, the sides of buildings, in trees, down logs, freshly dug holes for a nest. Raccoons don't always use nesting material so they can be difficult to spot. Check out google images for some ideas of what to look for. If you find any signs of nesting in your house/attic/roof I would remove immediately. Personally, if I found nests elsewhere on the property I would let the young fledge before removing any nesting material or filling in holes to discourage nesting the next year.

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