Having animals digging up your lawn is a pain, not least when the animal in question is a sizeable badger.
Badgers can be particularly ruthless in their hunt for food, turning over turf, digging holes and causing extensive damage to lawns and vegetable patches.
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep these nocturnal diggers out of your garden. From applying homemade badger repellents and tidying up your garden to fitting electric fencing, keep reading to find out how to keep badgers out of your garden for good.
Do badgers dig up lawns?
Badgers are omnivorous animals, and although they’ll eat almost anything, their preferred diet is one of juicy earthworms and slugs, grubs like leatherjackets and chafers, and fruit and vegetables.
Badgers will dig through the soil in search of these delicacies, leaving a trail of disaster in the process. If badgers can’t easily access a garden, they’ll dig under hedges and fences or even break their way in by barging through fencing.
Signs of badgers in your garden
It’s not only badgers that dig holes in the lawn, there are many other culprits. Although large, badgers are quiet visitors and, because they’re nocturnal, they aren’t always easy to spot.
Badgers will usually enter gardens in search of food. It might be because their usual territory has been disturbed and they’re having to search further for food or it could be that your garden is included within their territory.
Badgers live together in groups of around 4-7 individuals. These groups are known as clans and they’ll share one main sett and several smaller setts in their territory. Badger territories are large, between 70-120 hectares on average.
If you’re searching for evidence of badgers in the garden, these are the telltale signs:
- Large holes and scrapings It’s quite easy to spot badger holes in the garden. Badgers can also leave patches of scratched-up turf, smaller ‘snuffle holes’ and badger latrines which often consist of several holes near a fence, hedge or tree. Badger lawn damage can be unsightly, but healthy lawns will recover quickly.
- Paw prints Badgers are large animals and can weigh more than 12 kilograms. Because they are creatures of habit and usually use the same entrance and exit routes, you’ll likely be able to identify their footprints. Look for a broad, kidney-shaped pad with 4 or 5 toeprints above it. The footprint can be as large as 6.5cm wide.
- Partly eaten fruit and vegetables Badgers prefer to eat grubs and worms, with earthworms making up around 80% of their diet, but they’ll also eat fruit and vegetables and occasionally go on a bin raid. Look out for half-eaten fruits, vegetables and even bulbs.
- Broken fencing Badgers are large, strong animals and they can break their way through fencing, especially if it’s old or flimsy.
Are badgers dangerous?
Badgers aren’t dangerous to humans and are naturally wary creatures. Although they can be aggressive, badgers won’t attack unless they are provoked or trapped.
Badgers are unlikely to attack cats or dogs but they may hunt and eat small animals like rats, mice, rabbits, hedgehogs, frogs and toads.
What do badgers eat? Will feeding them save my lawn?
A badger’s diet mainly consists of earthworms and grubs. Badgers aren’t fussy eaters though and will eat fruit and vegetables, eggs, rodents, amphibians, insects, seeds and berries.
Badgers can also eat chickens if they’re particularly hungry and have been known to break into chicken houses. They’ll usually just take one bird but may return for more.
You can leave food out for badgers and it might distract them from eating your vegetables or scraping up the lawn, however, it will encourage them to visit your garden frequently.
How to stop badgers digging up the lawn
Badgers and their setts are protected by law in the UK and it’s illegal to hunt for or poison badgers or disturb badgers setts in gardens or woodland. This includes sending dogs into their dens. You can, however, try to deter badgers if they are damaging your garden.
Here are our top tips for deterring badgers and preventing badger damage to lawns:
1. Install badger-proof fencing
The best way to keep badgers out of your garden is to install a badger-proof fence. Badgers can easily climb low walls and fences and quickly dig underneath boundaries and hedges. They’re also incredibly strong, so a wobbly wooden fence is no match for them.
Fencing will need to be sunk into the ground to a depth of at least 60cm and be at least 1.2 metres above the ground. You’ll also need to run at least 30cm of wire along the ground to stop badgers from digging underneath. The fence will need to be made from extra-tough wire mesh which is attached to strong wooden posts.
2. Put up an electric barrier
An electric fence is easy to set up around the perimeter of your garden and extremely effective at keeping badgers out. You can buy inexpensive electric barriers and they’re easy to move around if needed.
3. Apply a badger deterrent solution
If you don’t want to install a fence, you can try repelling badgers with natural deterrents. Badger deterrent urine is a popular solution and can be effective. Human male urine can be sprayed around the garden, fooling the badgers into thinking it’s another male’s territory. This isn’t the most pleasant solution and it’ll need to be re-applied frequently. Lion dung can also be scattered around the garden for the same effect.
Chilli powder can be used to deter badgers, or you can sprinkle crushed chillis like scotch bonnets around the garden, especially near badger entryways. Take care when handling hot peppers.
You can also try citronella oil, badgers, like most animals, detest the strong, citrussy smell.
4. Remove insect larvae from the lawn
Because badgers enter gardens in search of food, you can try to manage the population of insect larvae that lurk under the soil. Keeping your lawn healthy by removing moss and regularly mowing it will help to decrease the number of grubs in the soil. Regular aeration and lawn sand applications will help too.
You can also apply seasonal nematodes which will target and kill the grubs, they’re completely safe to use and won’t harm badgers or pets.
5. Use motion-activated sensors
Badgers will be frightened away by sudden noises or flashing lights. Installing a motion-activated floodlight can help to ward badgers off.
6. Take away any food sources
Because badgers are scavengers they’ll be attracted to piles of bird seed, nuts and other discarded food. Take care to clear away any food spills and put bird feeders well out of reach.
How to repair badger lawn damage
Although badgers can cause a fair amount of damage to a lawn, you will be able to patch it up and a healthy lawn will make a fast recovery.
You can fix badger holes and scrapes by filling them will soil and reseeding. If badgers are targeting specific areas of your garden, you may be able to fence these areas off.
Visiting badgers can cause damage to your lawn and feast on your crops, but they are usually temporary visitors and they’ll eventually move on. Wild badgers have many benefits, they’re magnificent creatures to watch and they play an important role in the ecosystem. The large tunnels that badgers dig can provide homes for other, smaller mammals like foxes, rabbits and even otters.
Why do badgers dig up my garden?
Badgers will dig through lawns in search of food. Sometimes they may begin to excavate a sett or dig shallow latrines (badger toilets).
Can badgers climb fences?
Yes, badgers can climb low walls and fences. A badger-proof fence will need to be at least 1.2 metres high.
Does human urine deter badgers?
Male human urine can be an effective badger deterrent. Badgers sense the territory of a larger creature and will think twice before entering.
Will Jeyes Fluid deter badgers?
This concentrated disinfectant has been used to deter badgers but we do not advocate its use due to the adverse effect on the environment. There are no approved chemical solutions for specifically deterring badgers and it’s illegal to use substances like bleach, creosote and diesel oil.
What to do if you encounter a badger?
Badgers are frightened of humans and most likely, will run away before you’ve had the chance to spot them. If you encounter an injured or trapped badger, don’t approach it, badgers can be aggressive. Instead, call a local animal rescue centre who will be able to advise.