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Do Yard Lights Keep Animals Away?

Depending on where you live, your carefully planned and beautifully maintained garden could attract all manner of wildlife.

Some of these won’t be an issue. For example, birds are generally quite pleasant, and bees are pretty cool since they’re so important for helping to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

Insects hovering around your lights? A bit more of a nuisance.

And what about larger animals that may wander into your garden and wreak havoc? Will your yard lights help to keep them away from your home?

Yard lights left on permanently won’t usually deter animals, but lights on a motion detector can spook animals like raccoons and deer. Predators such as coyotes will adjust to motion detected lights, but predator lights that mimic eyes can be more effective.

In this article I’ll explain whether yard lights are effective against:

  • Raccoons
  • Deer
  • Coyotes

And then I’ll explore dedicated predator deterrent lights in a little more detail.

Do Yard Lights Deter Raccoons?

Raccoon walking in the grass

If you live in an area where raccoons are prevalent, you know how annoying they can be.

That’s not just because they like to mess up your yard or garden by digging through your trash.

They can be quite vicious and have been known to harm pets and even humans with their sharp teeth and claws.

Raccoons are nocturnal animals, meaning they prefer to hunt in the dark. So, do yard lights stop them from entering your garden and causing mayhem?

Essentially they do because raccoons don’t like bright lights. But if it’s permanently on the light, raccoons will adjust to it.

They’ll be less intimidated and will, over time, get comfortable with invading your space and hunting for food.

This is made worse if other homes in your neighborhood also use lights since they’ll get used to lights more quickly.

However, changing lights does scare them, so a yard light with a motion detector will usually be effective.

The sudden change of light will scare the raccoon and cause them to escape.

While they may try to return they will be spooked again if the light keeps coming back on, until they try to find an alternative source of food.

Can Backyard Lights Keep Deer Away?

Deer hiding in bush

Unless you live somewhere where deer are an issue, you might wonder why you’d want to deter them in the first place.

Deer are lovely creatures, right? They’re cute and aren’t predators, so why wouldn’t you want them in your garden?

Anyone who has to deal with deer knows this isn’t an accurate picture. Deer cause three major issues:

  • They will FEAST on your garden and cause widespread devastation to your plants and even branches and trees
  • If you live near a busy road, deer that are attracted to your home could end up running into traffic, and they are a major cause of accidents
  • Deer are one of the primary breeding grounds for ticks that carry Lyme disease, and those ticks could end up infesting your garden and ultimately infecting you

That’s three very good reasons to stop deer from getting into your outdoor space at home.

The thing is, deer are easily spooked – they must be one of the most nervous creatures on the planet (which is why they’re such a traffic hazard, as they panic and don’t know to run away).

So, a yard light on a motion sensor is a great way to help deter deer from entering your garden.

It might not stop them completely, but it is likely to scare them away.

You’ll just need to make sure your entire garden is covered by the sensor, as deer could easily just stay at the furthest parts of your garden and destroy that.

While raccoons will likely come close to your home to get to your trash cans, deer will be just as happy feeding on your furthest plants.

Will Landscape Lights Keep Deter Coyotes?

coyote in the grass

Coyotes are predators, and they’re also very clever animals.

They are normally scared of humans when they’re wild, but they will acclimatize, and once they do, they aren’t afraid to get aggressive.

Coyotes will attack humans once they’re comfortable around them.

So, you must do what you can to stop coyotes from settling on your property.

Otherwise, they could cause problems not just for you but for your neighbors, especially if they have pets and young children.

They don’t like bright lights because it increases their risk of being caught by a larger predator, but the problem is that coyotes learn quickly.

As soon as they realize that the bright light that keeps coming on when they enter your garden doesn’t have negative consequences, they’ll be perfectly happy returning.

So, unfortunately, the only way to stop coyotes from coming into your garden or yard is to make it unappealing to them.

Coyotes will happily hunt rodents and small animals and enjoy pet food and fruit.

Make sure you keep any pets indoors at night, remove any fruit that’s fallen from any trees or plants in your garden, and tidy up any pet food spills outside.

Related: How To Keep Bugs Away From Outdoor Lights?

Do Predator Deterrent Lights Work?

House exterior with porch walkay over a pond and lighting

Predator deterrent lights (Amazon) are lights that are designed to mimic the eyes of a large predator.

They’re usually red, and a unit will have two dots (or even eye shaped-lights) so that, in the dark, they look like a large animal.

The theory is that predators will see the lights and assume there’s a larger predator, causing them to flee.

They’re designed for anyone who wants to make sure predators such as coyotes or foxes don’t come into the garden, especially people who own chicken coops.

Do they work?

Reviews are generally really positive, although it seems like raccoons and possums don’t tend to be affected by them.

But a lot of people who’ve reviewed them seem reasonably positive.

One thing that seems to be a common theme is that smarter animals will get used to them over time and realize there’s not actually a predator.

With that in mind, it’s recommended that you move the lights around every few days to confuse any predators entering your garden so that they think the predator isn’t stationary.

They’re typically designed to be a temporary installation, so moving them around isn’t much work.

It’s also good to have multiple lights, especially since they’re directional. For example, say you’re protecting a chicken coop – you don’t just want to protect one side.

Make sure every angle is covered. Plus, more ‘predators’ = more fear for the animals coming into your garden.

Also read: Do Landscape Lights Increase Home Value?

Final Words

Yard and landscape lights are a useful tool in your fight to keep your property free from any unwanted wildlife.

Especially when paired with motion detectors to create more of that shock factor as a bright light suddenly switches on.

But unfortunately, some animals are a little too smart and will become acclimatized.

If that’s the case, you need to spend more time looking at how to make your garden less appealing to animals (removing any food sources, securing trash properly) and, ultimately, improving your perimeter fence.

Have you had any wildlife issues in your yard or garden? How did you ultimately stop the unwanted visitors?