Of all the wild animals you should consider dangerous, surprisingly, foxes should rank quite low on that list. Although famously cunning, foxes are usually relatively docile, avoiding humans and other confrontations unless severely provoked. In fact, they often do very little damage to our gardens compared to other pests – you’ll likely experience holes in your garden, attacked bins and an unpleasant smell. However, foxes continuously digging holes in your flowerbeds and lawn can quickly become quite a nuisance. Plus, if foxes threaten your pets or disturb your garden more severely, it’s okay to look for ways to deter them. Discover how to stop foxes digging in your garden with our helpful tips.
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Why Do Foxes Come Into The Garden?
Before we answer ‘how to stop foxes digging in your garden’, you should know why they’re coming in in the first place.
Foxes are just like any other species of wildlife – they are drawn to places abundant with food, water or shelter sources. They are incredibly clever animals that can continuously adapt to the changing landscape around them. Unfortunately, our gardens often offer a new landscape for the curious foxes to explore and discover new, tasty things.
If you think your garden has become the host of some new fox visitors but can’t understand their appeal, check out some of these typical fox attractions to help you rearrange your garden:
- You feed beneficial wildlife – If you like to feed wildlife in your garden, like birds and hedgehogs, the food you leave out is likely to attract foxes. If you want to deter these mammals without affecting the beneficial wildlife your garden attracts, you could try changing the way you feed other animals. There are several specialist feeders for wildlife like birds, and placing food in places easily accessible for smaller animals will keep hedgehogs fed.
- You offer a source of water – Ponds, fountains, pools and bird baths are all excellent water sources for foxes. If they are in safe, easy-to-access spaces, you will likely see foxes returning regularly.
- You feed your pets outdoors – Leftover pet food that you provide to cats or dogs is a feast for scavenging foxes, and if you feed your pets outdoors, the likelihood is that any leftovers will attract some unwanted visitors.
- You keep pets outdoors – On the other hand, if you keep small animals or birds in your garden, these will also be fair game to a passing fox. Although foxes don’t kill as many animals as we believe, any unprotected birds and small mammals are easy prey.
- Your garden is overgrown – A messy, overgrown garden is perfect for skittish foxes since they have a place to hide at the first sign of danger. Foxes may also take refuge under decking, sheds or piles of garbage.
Signs of Foxes In Your Garden
It’s often easy to tell if you’ve got foxes visiting your garden. However, many symptoms of foxes around your flowerbeds can be similar to signs of other potential pests, such as badgers. The one discerning thing that usually sets visiting foxes apart from other nightly callers is their scent. Foxes have a scent gland that emits a potent, musky smell which you will be able to recognise easily.
Here are the signs of foxes in your garden:
- A musky odour
- Trampled plants
- Holes in flowerbeds
- Fox droppings in conspicuous places
- Dug up lawn
- Half-eaten fruit on trees or bushes
- Damage to fences, polytunnels, hose pipes, mesh wire or polythene tunnels
- Garbage strewn across the garden
- Chewed toys or shoes[i]
Why Do Foxes Dig Holes In Gardens?
The reason foxes dig holes in gardens is reasonably straightforward. Adult foxes dig up soil to find worms and grubs to eat, and fox pups dig simply for practice. So if you find your flowerbeds dotted with shallow holes, it’s because they’re the perfect place for foxes to find nutritional grubs and teach their young. However, the worms they search for only come close to the soil’s surface during rainy periods, so it should stop once the weather changes.
On the other hand, foxes may rarely dig deeper holes in lawns or flowerbeds, about half a metre or deeper. Usually, this is because you have applied a blood or bone-based fertiliser to the soil. As scavengers, foxes will think they have smelt a corpse and dig furiously to find it. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do in this situation is wait for the rain to wash the fertiliser deeper, as the foxes will then be unable to smell it.
When Do Foxes Come Out?
If you’re going to figure out how to stop foxes digging in your garden, you’ll need to know when they come out so your efforts can be most effective.
Foxes are primarily nocturnal. Although daytime activity is common in some areas of the country, you’re unlikely to see a fox during the day. So, they spend much of their night hunting, searching for a mate and potentially destroying your garden. Foxes are most active during dusk and dawn[ii], which is when you are most likely to catch them in the act.
How To Stop Foxes Digging In Your Garden
Foxes digging in your garden can be a pain. However, it’s important to remember that they only follow their natural instincts. Although it may be putting you out, visiting foxes only do what they are programmed to do. So, you should find humane ways to stop their attack on your garden without harming them or your property. Luckily, how to stop foxes digging in your garden can be quite an easy fix! Here’s how to do it.
Block Entrance Points
If foxes can’t get into your garden, they can’t dig it up! However, foxes are very adept at getting through tight spaces, so you’ll have to find all their possible entrance points. Foxes can get into your garden through open gates, bushes, and even from under and over fences – they can jump up to three feet and climb up to double that![iii] Block off any potential entryways to deter foxes.
Use Plant-Based Fertilisers
If you’re wondering how to stop foxes digging in your garden when the holes are over half a metre deep, you’re likely using a blood or bone-based fertiliser. Foxes can detect these scents easily and will dig hoping to find a dead animal. Switch out these products for plant-based fertilisers to retake control of your flowerbeds.
Protect Buried Pets
The death of a beloved pet can be traumatic for everyone, but, unfortunately, if you bury your pet in the garden, you may be greeted by its unearthed corpse if you don’t bury it properly. This is because foxes are scavengers, and dead pets are easy for their keen noses to detect.
If you really want to bury your pet in the garden, ensure that you dig a deep grave and mark it with a heavy paving stone on top to protect it from burrowing foxes.
How To Get Rid of Foxes In Gardens
If foxes are becoming a nuisance in other ways and digging deterrents haven’t worked, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them from your garden altogether.
Bring Food Bowls Indoors
If you want to create a dog friendly garden without the attention of foxes, bring their food bowls in after each meal. Leftover dog or cat food is one of the biggest attractions to foxes since it’s an easy food source. So, leave out only single servings for your pet and bring the dishes inside as soon as they’ve finished.
Secure Hutches and Pens
Whatever animals you keep in your garden, whether it’s chickens, rabbits or ducks, ensure their home is secure. Foxes can burrow underneath hutches, pens and cages to get to the animals inside, so ensure that you bury fencing for your animal’s home to stop foxes from burrowing through. Also, you should install hard wire mesh that foxes will be unable to chew through.
Alternatively, you could get an animal guard. Certain animals are perfect guards for unsuspecting chickens and will scare foxes off before they even make it to your garden. However, guard animals won’t work for domestic pets, such as rabbits. It’s best only to use guard animals for livestock, such as chickens. Some great guard animals are:
- Guinea fowls
Protect Fruit Trees
Urban foxes, in particular, will eat fruit and vegetables as well as live foods. If you have fruit growing in your garden, this can spell disaster. Protect your fruit crops with a fruit cage. Not only will a fruit cage keep your crops safe from foxes and various pests, but it will also guarantee a trouble-free harvest year after year.
Attack Their Sense of Smell
A foxes sense of smell is one of its most sensitive senses. Fortunately, there are several scents that their keen noses can’t stand and spreading these around your garden may be the key to deterring them for good. Some scents that foxes are known to dislike include:
- Cayenne pepper
- Chilli pepper
- White vinegar
- Human smells[iv]
Try Commercial Repellents
If all else fails, there are several commercial fox repellents on the market that can help you. A commercial repellent should do the trick if you’re trying to figure out how to stop foxes digging your garden or just want to be rid of them. There are many sprays and devices that will work without harming the foxes or your garden.
Our Final Word On How To Stop Foxes Digging In Your Garden
Understanding how to stop foxes digging in your garden using humane deterrents is the safest way for your garden, the foxes and other wildlife. By following some of our tips on how to get rid of foxes in gardens, you can take back control of your garden.
How do you deal with foxes in your garden? Let us know your secrets.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK