How to deter foxes from your garden

How to deter foxes

by Sarah O'Byrne |
Updated on

While foxes are beautiful creatures and are often a fun sighting when you’re out and about, there is nothing worse for gardens than foxes. They eat the plants you spend all year tending, they burrow into flower beds, not to mention they may pose a threat to smaller household pets.

Gardening equipment supplier William James & Co. recommends regularly checking your garden for signs of entry from foxes. "Look out for paw prints and droppings that indicate where the fox has been. You might also spot holes or other digging marks that indicate they've been looking for food." Unfortunately, sometimes the signs that a fox has made itself at home in your garden are very obvious.

Luckily, there are plenty of safe and humane ways to deter foxes from choosing your garden as their home.

Red fox
Foxes love to make your garden their home ©Shutterstock

Use scents

Foxes have a very strong sense of smell, and you can use this to your advantage when trying to make them clear out of your garden. Foxes reportedly hate the smell of citronella, peppermint oil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, and citrus peel. Try infusing some boiling water with one or more of these scents, letting it cool, and transferring it to a spray bottle. You can then spray your mixture all over your plants and flowerbeds, keeping the foxes at bay while not causing harm to your vegetation.

Lemon water spray bottle
Try infusing water with scents that foxes find off-putting ©Shutterstock

Take away their food sources

Kate Bradbury, award-winning writer specialising in wildlife gardening and author, advises homeowners to "avoid planting anything with fertiliser containing bone meal or fish, blood and bone. This is basically fox food which they'll dig up to eat!" Making sure your bins are securely closed and not overflowing is also a vital step to ensuring foxes are kept away as they can easily find food in your rubbish. If you have bird feeders, make sure that they aren’t spilling over and are kept high in the trees out of the reach of foxes. If you keep rabbits or chickens, be sure they’re kept inside or protected from foxes either behind fences. Similarly, put fences around any vegetables you’re growing and collect any fruit that falls from your trees. Foxes will also eat dog food and cat food, so be sure your feeding bowls are kept inside your house.

Secure your fences- to an extent

It isn’t enough to have fences around your garden- a regular garden fence will be virtually useless if you're hoping to keep foxes out. Kate Bradbury told Yours, "They can jump really high, so fences don't deter them, and if they're really determined to enter a space they will do, regardless."

Foxes can jump up to two metres, so a short fence of knee height will be rendered pointless, and it's a far better use of your time to focus on minimising the damage of creatures who make their way into your garden. After all, part of the charm of a big garden is that smaller animals like hedgehogs can feel safe in your space. The RSPCA also have plenty of recommended safety precautions, including a warning not to use flexible netting as there's a risk of wildlife getting tangled or caught in it.

Invest in motion sensors

Installing some motion sensor lights or sprinklers are the perfect fox deterrent. Foxes are easily spooked, and a light or a spray is all it takes for them to bolt. If, after a while, the foxes become accustomed to the lights, there are also high-pitched ultrasonic fox deterrents available. These are a bit pricier, but the sounds they make are inaudible to humans, and can only be heard by wildlife.

If you’ve tried all of the above tips and tricks and are still having trouble with foxes digging up your garden, try some of these fox deterrents.

A high-strength 5-litre fox repellent that is sure to keep them away from your garden. Completely humane and will not cause any harm to foxes. It uses citronella to keep them away rather than any harmful toxins.


  • Comes with a 1.2 metre extension hose


  • Pricier deterrent than others on the market

Fox Repellent SprayReady Steady Defend

Again, this repellent uses only natural ingredients and nothing that will cause harm to your garden or, more importantly, the foxes. This eco-friendly spray uses chilli seed oil, garlic oil, citronella oil, and peppermint oil to keep foxes away from your carefully tended garden.


  • Eco-friendly
  • Affordable


  • Only comes in 200ml spray bottle

Solar panel fox repellentAmazon
Price: £20.99

This solar powered fox repellent uses flashing lights to keep foxes away from your garden. This can work in any weather, so it's very useful for British weather.


  • Solar powered


  • The flashing lights may be frustrating if placed near your window, so this is best used in a larger garden

However, if you're still unable to deter foxes from entering, Kate Bradbury encourages gardeners to look on the brighter side. "I have foxes using my garden daily and I barely notice them because they have safe, easy access, I don't leave food out for them (or anything they would consider food) and I don't have anything they could topple over and damage. Sometimes, yes, they squish my plants, but hedgehogs also do that - it's nature! I love having them around."

Wild fox in garden
There are some ways to get rid of foxes ©Shutterstock


Do foxes attack cats?

Although foxes will only attack if they feel threatened, this can apply to your household pets. That is why it’s important to make sure your garden is fox free if you have any pets or animals that like to wander outdoors at night.

Are foxes dangerous?

Foxes are not dangerous to humans as they rarely choose to attack. Most foxes choose to flee rather than stay and fight in a situation they deem dangerous.  However, wild foxes can carry rabies, and if they feel threatened, they can be known in rare cases to attack.

What does fox poo look like?

Fox excrement is similar to that of a dog, except they are usually pointy and twisted. Fox droppings can also be identified by looking for traces of fur, feathers, bones, seeds and berries.

What noise does a fox make?

Foxes are known to howl, bark and scream, making them not very pleasing neighbours.

Kate Bradbury is an award-winning writer specialising in wildlife gardening and the author of The Bumblebee Flies Anyway. Her latest book, One Garden Against the World, is out now.

Sarah O’Byrne has been an editorial assistant at heat, Closer and Yours since May 2023. She has a BA in English with Film and an MA in Literature and Culture - both from University College Dublin.

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