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Preventing Animal Damage Under Porches, Sheds and Decks

Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage 1994

The gap under your shed, deck and porch is highly attractive to animals seeking a dry, dark place to take up residence.

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Wildlife that have been known to live under sheds, decks, and porches

  • Chipmunks
  • Feral Cats
  • Opossums
  • Otter
  • Raccoons
  • Rats (various varieties)
  • Skunks
  • Woodchucks

Strategies to prevent animal entry

Step 1 Make sure nothing is living under your deck, porch or shed. NEVER, NEVER secure an openning unless you are certain that animals are no longer using the area.

Stick den testDEN TEST: if you are not sure a hole or access area is being used, place sticks in the soil (see photo) or cork the openning with newspaper.

  • Monitor the hole daily.
    • During summer months, monitor for at least three days. If no activity, then you can be reasonably sure the hole is not active and may be sealed.
    • Winter time is more difficult as some animals can den up for weeks at a time and others hibernate.

Step 2 If the deck, shed or porch is not being used by wildlife, you can prevent their doing so by one of the following methods.

Option 1 Trench Screening

  • Trench screening for shedtrench screening diagramContact your local Dig Safe company before you start digging.
  • Use quality 1/4 or 1/2 inch hardware cloth. Galvanized is best. Paint the mesh if concerned about looks or cover with lattice after installation.
  • Use a large enough piece to cover the distance from the shed/porch/deck wall to 3-4 inches below the ground and then out in a perpendicular fashion at least 12 inches from the vertical line. See diagram.

Option 2 Patio Blocks (No dig method)

patio block; image by Stephen Vantassel

  • Use 1/4 or 1/2 inch hardware cloth to fill up any gap between the shed/porch/deck wall and the ground. Add 2" to this measurement.
  • Before installing mesh, be sure there is a slight slope to the ground away from the structure.
  • Obtain patio blocks sized 8"x16"x1".
  • Install the mesh and lay the patio blocks with narrow end against the vertical and horizontal portion of the mesh. A downward slope will help ensure water flows away from the structure. Click diagram at right for a larger version.
  • Photo of patio blocksCaution: this method may severely restrict airflow from under your deck, porch or shed. This may cause moisture problems. Consult a contractor prior to using the patio block method.



Option 3 Open Method

  • Wildlife tend not to live under decks, sheds, and porches whose crawl space areas are "open" and let in a lot of light. If your deck, shed or porch is high enough off the ground, you may be able to discourage potential animals from living there by simply removing any walls, lattice or shrubs that make the crawl space area feel cozy.


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