How Can I Keep Mice, Rats, or Other Rodents Out of My Garden?
If you've found mice, rats, or other rodents in your garden, you are likely concerned and probably lost some of your harvest to these annoying pests. The question remains - what should you do about them once they appear? In this article, we walk through how rodents may get into your garden, how to get rid of them, and how to keep them from coming back.
Rats, mice, and other rodents can tunnel through your garden, reproduce, and enter your household. They will eat your plants and damage their health and vitality. They can also leave behind droppings that are unealthy for all types of flora and fauna.
Having a garden may also cause these rodents to be emboldened to make their home inside your house, especially when it’s cold outside. So, it’s important to keep them out of your garden before they begen to get comfortable.
If you have a rodent problem, or just want to prevent rats, mice, or other rodents from entering your garden, follow these steps to keep them all out for good.
Recognizing a Rodent Infestation
Rodents seek shelter, food, and water, all of which a vegetable garden provides. Your backyard may resemble their natural prairie or woodland habitat with a steady supply of water from your irrigation system.
Mice primarily eat cereal grains, seeds, berries, and nuts, but they may explore other produce. They sporadically eat small portions, which may lead to contamination from their teeth. Rats will also eat your fruits and vegetables, but they will move on to your compost, trash, or house to gather more fats and proteins.
The rodent may colonize your garden beds, lawn, compost piles, or decorative plants. They travel unprotected gardens looking for the most comfortable shelter, which usually means they figure out how to enter your house.
Signs of a Rodent Problem
- Your plants disappear overnight
- You find rat or gopher mounds
- They appear on fences, trees, or power lines
- You spot gopher, rat, or mouse tunnels
- You see animal droppings that resemble black rice
They are likely to infest your sheds, compost piles, wood stacks, bird feeders, recycling bins, or trash cans.
How to Keep Mice Out of Garden
If you want to keep rats, mice, and rodents away from your garden and home, you need to follow these steps. If you still have a horrid problem after following this process, consider hiring a professional.
Limit Access to Food and Water
Rats are attracted to the promise of food, water, and shelter. You can eliminate their demand for your yard by reducing their access to these goods.
Begin by sealing any attractive sources to them. Move your compost into a tight-sealed container and seal your shed, house, and garage. If you have any animal food outdoors, keep it in sealed, rodent-proof bins.
Try to keep your garages and sheds organized. The rats may take residence in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Also, mice may hide in woodpiles to steer clear of predators.
When your plants drop seeds, fruit, or nuts, pick them up before the rodents can eat them. Also, clean up after your pets when they leave fecal matter or food waste in your yard. Keep your bushes, trees, and shrubs pruned, cut your grass short, and pull out any weeds.
If water pools in specific spots in your yard, try to implement drainage in that area. Ensure you turn hoses off when you finish using them, and only water when necessary.
Seal Your Home
While your house and garden are separate, you will want to seal your home from the outdoors. Rodents are attracted to the warmth and food in your house, so they may try to enter and live inside.
Walk around your house and search for any cracks or holes that a rodent could sneak into. Even if you think the crack is too small for a mouse to enter, it could propagate to the size of the critter.
You can follow the U.S. Department of Energy’s guidelines to air seal your home when looking to protect your house from rodents.
- Caulk and seal floors, walls, soffits, and ceilings
- Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors
- Use low-expansion spray foam to seal leaks in insulation
- Use a foam sealant on gaps around baseboards and windows
- Choose double-pane low-emissivity windows
- Replace door thresholds and bottoms with pliable sealing gaskets
- Close the fireplace flue damper
- Seal spots around furnaces, chimneys, and water heaters with sheetrock, sheet metal, or furnace cement caulk
A lot of people jump straight to mouse traps when looking to solve their mouse problem. However, these may injure your small children or pets who stumble on them. By placing them in crawl spaces, under decks, or in small corners, you can protect your loved ones while trapping rodents.
The standard mousetrap will kill the mouse by breaking its neck. People generally place these indoors as they may kill a curious bird or butterfly who you do not want to eliminate. If you go for one that catches rodents alive, you will need to decide if you want to kill it or displace it in a distant woodland area.
You will run into similar issues with poison as your pets, animals, and friendly garden visitors may eat it.
If you have one or two mice intruding in your yard, you can get away with the catch and release method. For cases involving more, you may need to kill them with a spring trap.
Get a Cat
Cats love to hunt and kill lizards, birds, bugs, and rodents in their backyard. If you do not mind killing rodents, you can set your feline friend on the loose. A large cat can kill the mouse, or at least scare it away.
A lot of cat owners do not like letting their pets out due to the dangers of stray cats, diseases, and running away.
If you have an outdoor cat or let your cat in your garden regularly, try to get them to chase off a mouse. An avid hunter will keep most gardens rodent-free. Be careful that they do not get bitten. Try not to let kittens or indoor cats hunt mice as they may get several diseases.
Use Ultrasonic or Spray Repellents
An ultrasonic repellent device creates a sound that deters rodents from your property. You place it somewhere in your garden and turn it on so that it emits a high-frequency sound that repels nearby animals. As a human, you will not hear it, but it will scare off any critters.
You should not get an ultrasonic repellent device if you let your pets roam freely nearby. The sound will bother them as it runs 24/7.
Nevertheless, they are affordable and cause no physical harm to animals. Look for one with solar cells and a battery that charges itself each day. That way, you do not need to drive up your electricity bill. Keep it in an area with high levels of solar insolation to ensure it stays powered all day and night.
Another option is to make a spray solution to repel rodents. You can try one of these recipes:
- ⅛ cup of mothball, one cup of water, and one teaspoon of dish soap
- Two teaspoons of peppermint or wintergreen oil mixed with one cup of rubbing alcohol
- One cup of white distilled vinegar and one cup of ammonia
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and squirt where you see rodents. Reapply the solution once a week until you have a mouse-free environment. You can also try spraying cotton balls and leaving them out in rodent-filled areas, replacing them every other week.
Plant Rodent-Repellent Plants
Some of the best rodent-repellent plants include:
- Castor bean
- Crown imperial
Planting these may deter the rodents from eating other plants due to their pungent odors. Try to plant them in your garden and around your house to prevent mice from flocking around you.
If you have a green thumb, give it a shot! If it doesn’t work, you have some new vegetables to use.
Tips for Other Rodents
If you have rodents other than mice or rats, you may need to take some separate steps to get rid of them. Some rodents are more invasive than others, and may require the help of a professional to get them out of your garden for good.
You can keep armadillos out by installing an outward-slanting fence. You can go for an attractive picket fence that drives one foot in the ground and two feet up.
Try to spray castor oil mixed with water around your gardening space. You can line your planting holes with a wire basket or hardware cloth to keep them away from the roots.
You can install a five-foot fence that extends 1.5 feet underground. Make sure it slants backward to knock the groundhog off. If you want a shorter fence, you will need to go electric. You can spray your plants with hot pepper wax sprays and set traps to capture and release the woodchuck.
Since moles are carnivores, you will need to focus on getting rid of worms and insects. Using an effective pesticide and getting rid of any infested plants should veer them away from your yard. Spraying castor oil all over the soil should also help.
If you dislike squirrels eating your seeds, fruits, and nuts, you can spritz one of the rodent-repellent sprays onto your plants and cover bulbs with chicken wire. Stick with one of the minty sprays if you are squirting edible plants to avoid tampering with the flavor.
You will probably need to hire a professional if you have a vole infestation. However, you can prevent them from entering your gardening space by mowing your lawn, weeding regularly, and surrounding your plants with a hardware cloth fence extending one foot under and over the ground.
If you want to keep mice out of your gardening space, you can take several measures to repel and eliminate them. By reducing their food source, sealing your home, setting traps, and using repellent devices, you can cut back on the number of rodents that enter your property. Try a few of these tips today to keep your garden rodent-free!