We all love adorable animals, whether they’re our own pets or the cute little rabbits and squirrels that are scurrying around our neighborhoods. But what happens when those cute critters start destroying your yard? Winter is prime time for a variety of animals to be digging through your trash or tearing up your shrubs. A general misconception is that most critters hibernate during the winter. However squirrels, rabbits, skunks, possums, and deer (among others!) are active all winter long. Animals can be even more destructive in the winter because food is scarce and they’re more desperate to find it. So what can you do? You don’t want to hurt the poor things! You just want them to leave your yard alone! Here are some humane ways you can stop the destruction:


Putting up a chicken wire fence around your shrubs is a great deterrent for rabbits. Make sure the chicken wire is at least 2 feet high and at least 2 inches down into the ground to prevent tunneling. For deer, the fence needs to be a bit higher. And by a bit, I mean at least 7 feet high. Fencing is the most reliable way to keep deer from damaging your trees and shrubs, even though it’s not necessarily appealing to look at. If you have a little time and money, this can be a great option for protecting your plants!


Animal repellents are another way to deter animals from tearing up your yard. Repellents are often categorized into two groups: area repellents and contact repellents. Area repellents are applied to the perimeter or surrounding area of what you want to protect. They give off an offensive odor to animals and the animals stay away from the area completely. Contact repellents are applied directly to plants and repel animals by causing the plant to taste terrible. It’s important to remember that repellents will reduce damage, not eliminate it completely. Fences are much more likely to solve your deer problem than deer repellents will. They also need to be re-applied after it rains or snows. Please make sure to find products made with natural plant oils and organic, non-poisonous ingredients so that they can be used safely around your family and your own pets, as well as not harming the visiting animals. You want to deter but not hurt them.

Homemade Solutions 

There are  a few unconventional ways you can deter animals. They seem to work well for some and not so well for others, but most of them can be made with things you already own:

  • Vinegar – Many animals hate the smell of vinegar, even after it’s dry. Soak rags in white vinegar, place them on stakes, and surround your plants and trees with them.
  • Hair – Human hair is another unconventional way of repelling animals from your yard. For deer, place hair in some old panty hose and hang it from trees. For rabbits (and possibly other animals) spread human or dog hair around plants and shrubs.
  • Citrus – Cats dislike citrus, so if you have destructive kitties coming around, you can place a grapefruit, orange, or lemon peel near the area they’ve grown accustomed to.
  • Cayenne Pepper – Sprinkling cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your yard or on and around your plants will deter squirrels and raccoons. Raccoons have a heightened sense of smell and will stay away from the cayenne pepper. Squirrels will dislike the taste.
  • Soap – Hanging bars of soap from trees or in large shrubs is one of the best-known ways to repel deer. Simply get ordinary bar soap, tie it to a string, hang it from a tree branch!
  • Adopting a Dog! – Many animals (like rabbits) are frightened by the scent of a dog. If they smell that a dog has been on your property they may be more likely to stay away. Just make sure you’re ready to make a lifelong commitment to love and care for your pooch, and make him/her part of your family!

As you can see, there are plenty of humane ways to stop animals from damaging your property. Did you like this article? Click an icon below to share it on Facebook, Twitter, and more!

Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer, blogger, and animal lover. She just rescued a 1 year old German Shepard mix who was found wondering the streets of West Virginia this summer. She has a passion for the Internet, and loves how it connects people across the globe. She loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.