Cayenne Pepper: A Natural Way to Control Unwanted Grass

When used correctly, cayenne pepper can be an effective treatment for your lawn. This substance works as a natural solution to repel unwanted animals and pests from your lawn, at the same time as attracting birds to it. 

In short, cayenne pepper will not kill grass, nor will it kill any other plant that comes into contact with it. The active substance in cayenne pepper is capsaicin; while capsaicin has strong repellent properties to live animals and pests, it has no adverse effects on plant life. With that said, you should still take care with application to avoid the potentially harmful effects that cayenne pepper can have on pets and children. 

Will Cayenne Pepper Kill Grass?

No, cayenne pepper will not kill grass. Adding a layer of cayenne pepper in a reasonable quantity will have no effect on the health of your grass or any other plants surrounding the treatment area. 

powdered cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is an effective treatment used to repel animals and pests from a lawn or garden. The key substance in cayenne pepper is capsaicin; this is the substance that makes pepper taste spicy, and that works to repel animals due to its irritating nature. To plants and grass, however, cayenne pepper isn’t harmful, nor is it even detectable. A layer of cayenne pepper on your lawn is no more harmful than throwing down a handful of parsley.

Will Cayenne Pepper Hurt Plants?

No, cayenne pepper will not hurt any plants it comes into contact with. To reiterate, the capsaicin in cayenne pepper is non-toxic to plant life. You can safely use cayenne pepper as a treatment around your lawn and garden plants without harming the surrounding growth. 

Does Cayenne Pepper Hurt Dogs?

When used in moderation, cayenne pepper does not hurt dogs and won’t cause them any lasting harm. However, it will cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat of any dogs that come near the treatment area. Cayenne pepper can also be potentially harmful if you use too much of it in your yard.

One of the primary uses for cayenne pepper is to keep dogs off lawns and out of garden beds. Whether you’re a pet owner, or just a conscientious gardener, you may be concerned about the potential harm the treatment could cause these animals. There’s little need to worry, as cayenne pepper is nothing more than an irritant to dogs and other animals; this is providing you apply the substance in moderation.

If you use too much cayenne pepper, there is a possibility that it will cause more severe symptoms in dogs. High concentrations of cayenne pepper can burn the dogs’ nasal passage when inhaled, or may cause digestive problems if ingested. Because of these potential harms, some view the use of cayenne pepper to repel dogs as inhumane. You should keep this in mind when deciding whether to use the substance as a treatment in your yard.

Is it Illegal to Put Cayenne Pepper on Your Lawn?

No, it is not illegal to put cayenne pepper on your lawn. There are no laws against using cayenne pepper as a natural treatment on your lawn or anywhere else on your property. 

With that said, there are still some precautions you need to take when using cayenne pepper around your outdoor spaces. You must take care with application to ensure that all of the cayenne pepper falls within your property lines; although it isn’t illegal, your neighbors probably won’t appreciate having cayenne pepper all over their yard or on communal walkways.

It’s also important to alert anyone in your household or visiting your property that you’ve used cayenne pepper on your lawn. Cayenne pepper in powdered form can be a severe irritant to some people, especially children, or those with seasonal or spice allergies. It can also be a severe irritant to animals and pets if used improperly.  

Why Use Cayenne Pepper on Your Lawn?

As a natural treatment, the two main uses for cayenne pepper are to repel animals and pests from your lawn. You can also use cayenne pepper to attract birds to your lawn. 

Repel Animals from Lawn

The primary use for cayenne pepper is to repel animals like cats, dogs, and wildlife from your lawn. To the majority of animals, cayenne pepper is an irritant with a strong odor that they naturally avoid. You can therefore use this substance as a natural way to keep pets and other animals off the grass.

Not only will the repellant protect your lawn from traffic damage, it will also prevent these animals from urinating on it. Both foot traffic and urination are the two major ways that animals can damage your turf; the damage may appear as yellow or brown grass, either in concentrated patches or spread throughout the lawn. You can keep your lawn looking green and thick by using cayenne pepper to repel animals without actually hurting them. 

Stop Animals Digging Lawn

An additional benefit of the cayenne pepper’s repellent effect is that it will stop animals from digging your lawn. Out of the various reasons why your lawn could be full of holes, digging animals are typically the culprit. A layer of cayenne pepper will keep animals away and thus removes their opportunity to dig up your grass.

Repel Insects from Lawn

You can also use cayenne pepper to repel other types of pests, such as insects, from your lawn. Although there’s no guarantee that the pepper will kill the insects, it will make the lawn an uninhabitable environment for them. 

As is the case with other animals, cayenne pepper has a strong odor and is an irritant to bugs and insects. It will work to repel all kinds of creatures like ants, grubs, and worms from your lawn. While this is a benefit in terms of keeping harmful creatures away, it may reduce populations of lawn-friendly insects. For instance, earthworms play a hugely important role in the aeration and fertility of your lawn; they are also particularly susceptible to the capsaicin in cayenne pepper. Be aware of the impact that a cayenne pepper treatment may also have on friendly organisms such as these.                            

Attract Birds to Lawn

Despite being an effective animal repellent, birds are one animal unaffected by cayenne pepper. If you want to attract birds to your lawn, a cayenne pepper treatment can act as an inviting source of food for these creatures.

The capsaicin in cayenne pepper doesn’t have the same effect on birds as it does on humans and other animals. For this reason, birds can eat hot pepper seeds and powdered cayenne pepper along with their regular seeds. Of course, this is more of a downside than a benefit if you have recently seeded your lawn; keeping this in mind, you may want to take some extra measures to protect your seed from birds if using a cayenne pepper treatment.

a sack of cayenne pepper with a scoop

How to Make Cayenne Pepper Repellent for Grass

Homemade cayenne pepper repellents are easy to make and require few ingredients that you’ll likely have at hand.

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp powdered cayenne pepper
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 tsp dish soap (optional)
  • An empty spray bottle


  1. Make a cayenne pepper solution by mixing one tablespoon of pepper per 1 litre of water. Take care not to use too much pepper as too high a concentration may cause severe irritation to dogs and other animals.
  2. Optionally, you can add in a teaspoon of dish soap to your cayenne pepper solution. This will help the solution stick to the grass blades, improving the effectiveness and longevity of the treatment.
  3. Place the solution into a clean spray bottle.

Note: You can also apply cayenne pepper directly to your lawn in powdered form. In the following section, we explain how to apply cayenne pepper in both powdered and liquid form. 

How to Apply Cayenne Pepper Repellent to Grass

You can apply cayenne pepper to grass using one of two methods. Following the previously detailed cayenne pepper solution recipe, you can spray the solution onto soil and plants; alternatively, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper in its dry powder form onto the areas you wish to treat.

How to Apply Cayenne Pepper Solution to Grass

The repellant effects of the cayenne pepper will be more effective if you spray it in a liquid format. It’s easier to apply a liquid solution of the pepper evenly across your lawn; a solution of cayenne pepper will also work to repel animals and pests for longer.


  1. After following the recipe in the previous section, you should have a spray bottle filled with your cayenne pepper solution. 
  2. Spray the solution around the borders of your lawn, and/or around any entrances or access points. Take care to spray the solution in as even a layer as possible, avoiding overspraying in concentrated areas. 
  3. You can also spray the solution on plants and around garden beds in other parts of your yard. 
  4. To maintain the effectiveness of the treatment, repeat applications of the cayenne pepper solution weekly. You should also reapply the treatment after irrigation or heavy rain. 

How to Apply Powdered Cayenne Pepper to Grass

You can alternatively apply the cayenne pepper in powdered form directly to your lawn. This method requires less preparation, but is less likely to be effective compared to using a liquid solution. 


  1. Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the cayenne pepper during application.
  2. Place some powdered cayenne pepper into a sprinkle jar or similar container. 
  3. Sprinkle a light layer of the powdered cayenne pepper around the border of your lawn and any entrances or access points to your yard.
  4. Add a light dusting of the cayenne pepper to garden beds and any other part of your yard you wish to protect.
  5. Repeat applications of the cayenne pepper weekly, as well as after irrigating or rainfall. 

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