Mice and rats are intelligent and curious creatures and, like humans, they love to find a safe and consistent source of food and shelter. By finding ways to rodent proof your yard and garden spaces, you’ll inherently protect your home from unwanted rodents.
Rodent proofing your garden starts with denying the food source
Your vegetable gardens, along with fruit and seed bearing trees and flowers, serve as a one-stop grocery store and restaurant for rats and other rodent pests. Rats and mice love to feast on tender leaves and greens every bit as much as they love to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and sweeter veggies. They even love to eat worms and insects making their home in your soil and garden beds, not to mention the allure of your irrigation system’s supply of fresh water.
Once your garden becomes a favorite rodent hotspot, it’s inevitable that the rodents will migrate into your warm, cozy home – including attics, basement, and crawlspaces.
Thus, taking the steps necessary to rodent proofing your garden and outdoor spaces is a first line of defense in rodent proofing your home.
Rats and mice spread pathogens
In addition to protecting your plants, the final harvest and your home – there’s another important reason to keep rats and mice away from the garden; they spread pathogens.
For example, rodent fecal matter often contains Salmonellosis. When droppings are watered, the bacteria spread into the soil and splashes up onto the leaves of lettuces, greens, and other edible plants and veggies. Without diligent washing and cleaning, the pathogen can spread to your family, causing serious illness – particularly in babies, young children and the elderly.
They also spread other known pathogens and viruses, and are hosts for other unpleasant parasites – including fleas and ticks.
Keep rats, mice, and rodents out of the garden
Here are some of the ways you make your garden less attractive – or impenetrable – to rodents and other unwanted guests.
Start seedlings indoors
Rats and mice love tender seeds, and freshly-sprouted seeds are an even better source of protein and nutrients. Planting seeds directly in the ground makes easy pickins for mice and rats. Instead, sprout your seedlings indoors so they have a chance to grow, planting them in the ground after they’ve taken off and have a good, strong start.
Protect your compost pile
Compost piles are wonderful, reducing landfill waste and using food scraps to help nourish next year’s garden. Unfortunately, they’re also a feasting ground for rats and mice. Make your compost pile as unpleasant as possible by turning it regularly and spraying it down with a garden hose, making it more difficult for rodents to access fresh food scraps.
Eliminate prospective shelters
Rodents love to hole up in wood piles and overgrown vegetation. Eliminate prospective shelters by moving wood and kindling piles regularly, keeping lawns and perimeter vegetation neatly mowed and trimmed and bagging yard waste immediately for disposal.
Install wire mesh below and alongside raised beds
Mice and small rats can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. Keep this in mind as you work to prevent underground and above ground access. Mesh wire should be laid along the bottom and sides of raised garden boxes – preventing burrowing access.
Use plants that keep rats away in borders and perimeters
There are some plants that naturally assist with rodent proofing your garden from rats and other rodents, so try these plants that keep rats away, using them around your yard, garden as borders, etc. These include:
- Bay (sprinkle bay leaves around the garden beds)
- Wood Hyacinth (squill)
- Grape Hyacinth
- Camphor plant
Sachets made from mint, lavender and other fragrant flowers or leaves have long been used to keep stored garments fresh; they also help to repel rodents so you can turn the yield from these outdoor plants that keep rats away into natural deterrents.
Control lawn pests – particularly grubs
A grubby lawn, plus a nearby garden is a win-win for rodents. By using eco-safe grub control methods for your lawn, rodent proofing your garden combined with some serious garden control and rodent repellents, will make your yard and home less attractive to those pests.
How to eliminate resident rats from the garden
First, identify which rodents are the problem so you can target specific types for elimination:
- Look for them. Rats and mice are most active at dusk and dawn. Look for them scurrying along powerlines, fences and tree lines.
- Plants disappear from below. Gophers and moles may be your problem, but rats and mice are tunnelers, too. They love to gnaw and tug on plants from their root base, bringing the whole feast back home to the family.
- Look for holes and burrows. Because rodents are tunnelers, you’ll typically see evidence of their superhighway via holes or mounds of fresh earth.
- Do you see any tracks – which will appear in trail formats on well-worn rodent pathways.
- Mounds of soil indicate the entrance of a gopher, mole or rat hole. Rats make smaller mounts, gophers make larger mounds. Heart-shaped mounds are the sign of moles, rounder mounds are more typical of gophers.
- Keep an eye out for droppings. If you have mice or rats in your garden, you’ll see evidence of black- or dark-brown droppings on top of the soil.
- Smear marks will appear on fence lines, the top of wood piles, stone or metal caused by body oil and debris that remains from well-worth paths.
- Chewed or damaged fencing material is evidence that they’re gnawing their way in.
Any of these signs indicate rats in the garden – and probably your home – warranting attention from you or a professional to start rodent proofing your garden.
Traps are the best means of eliminating rats and rodents
The best way to eliminate rats and other rodents from your garden is trapping. You can flood burrows with water – flushing rodents from the ground – but they’ll return. If you opt for this method, flood the burrows a few times a week for several weeks, forcing the intelligent rodents to find a newer, safer place to live.
Poisons are risky
Frustrated homeowners can forsake their ethics and opt for poison when they aren’t able to get a handle on things but this is a risky choice. Rodents and mice that are poisoned may be eaten or played with by your own dog or cat. Unwitting children may mistake a slower-moving poisoned rat for a tame “pet” or plaything.
Once sick and/or dead – poisoned are eaten by other animals that are then poisoned. These untargeted victims are often the same predators you want to hang around because they keep rodent populations in check.
Consider using baited and/or live traps for rodent proofing your garden
If you are against using a traditional snap trap, consider live trap options – some of which are designed to capture multiple rodents at a time. Just remember to let them go at least a mile away – multiple miles away is best –from your home since rodents are likely to find their way back otherwise.
Are you concerned you have rats in the garden or fear rodent proofing your garden hasn’t worked? Contact us here at Attic Solutions and we’ll rodent proof your attic and crawl spaces, helping you to eliminate rats and mice once and for all.