the top ways to keep rodents away from your garden this summer
- Get Rid of Possible Shelters: Rats and mice often make nests out or brush and wood piles near tall grass. For this reason, it is important to keep your lawn trimmed as much as possible throughout gardening season (generally considered to be late spring.) Granted, this can be difficult in the summer, when you are going to want to water your garden as much as possible to keep it healthy. But there are other things you can do to discourage rodents from building a nest in and around your garden, too. For one thing, don’t let spent plants pile up near your garden, and make sure to bag them and throw them away in a timely manner. You should also try to keep wood piles out of your garden, either storing them in a shed or moving them from place to place (this will also help prevent termite infestations.) You should turn compost weekly and spray it with a gardening hose, too, as compost piles can be attractive homes for mice if they are not handled correctly.
- Dispose of Possible Food Sources: There are a number of things that may be in or around your garden that rodents will see as a viable food source. For instance, rodents will happily eat out of a bird feeder, so if you have seen one of these in or around your garden, you should take it down if you have seen any rodents. You may not have to get rid of your bird feeder forever, but you should remove it for at least a few weeks, until you can be sure that it isn’t attracting rodents. You’ll also want to ensure your bird feeder does not get spilled, and store it in sealed, airtight containers. Beyond that, look for any foods you have planted in your garden that could draw rodents in. It is a good idea to harvest them as soon as possible, so rats and mice do not get to them first.
- Eliminate Lawn Grubs: A frustrating pest in their own right, grubs are another food source that can draw rodents in. And we’re not just talking about rodents in this case; grubs also frequently attract gophers and moles. Fortunately, you can usually get rid of grubs with milky spores or other treatments. And remember, if you are not able to kill off the grubs in your yard on your own, you can always hire a professional pest control technician to get rid of them.
- Improve Sanitation: Improving sanitation on your property is probably the top way to keep rats and mice away, and your garden is no exception. Errant food waste and other trash are one of the top ways rodents get drawn in, so if you keep garbage or recycling bins around your garden, make sure they are always closed and as clean as possible. You can try washing waste bins down with a garden hose, or even using a household cleaner to give them a good scrub occasionally. You may also want to consider moving waste receptacles to another area, to make sure you are not contributing to an environment where rodents can thrive.
- Seal Up Cracks & Holes: Again, this is another thing that should be done as much as possible around your entire property to discourage rodent activity. Some mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime, while rats have been known to fit through openings with roughly the circumference of a quarter. That’s why if there are any openings around your garden that lead into your house, they should be sealed off as much as possible.
- Put Up Fences: As we established above, rats and mice can fit through extremely small openings, so this may not solve your rodent problem entirely. However, you may be able to keep gophers out of your garden by putting up a fence. About a quarter-inch or hardware cloth is usually a good choice for garden fencing. Just bury this material over a foot in the soil, and position it a few inches outside your garden. That way, if anything tries to tunnel into your garden, they’ll hit the hardware cloth and hopefully tunnel away (this same approach can work to keep rabbits out as well.)
- Use Mesh Tubes: Rodents like gophers and rats love eating tender seedings, but you may be able to prevent this from happening by placing plastic mesh tubes around your seedlings.
- Let Your Cat Loose: Looking for a cheap and convenient way to take care of rodents? Let your cat have a go at them! This especially applies to outdoor cats, who will likely know exactly where to look to find rodents in your garden (just make sure your cat doesn’t mess with your plants/flowers in the process!)
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