Rats and mice are a normal part of the local animal population in many areas, and homeowners must take precautions to keep their numbers under control. Gardens are particularly vulnerable to rats, since compost bins and many garden plants provide food and shelter for the animals. Make your garden as unappealing as possible to rodents to prevent them from eating your plants and potentially invading your house.
Keep potential food off the ground. Do not spread birdseed or breadcrumbs near your garden, and remove garden fruits and nuts from the ground as soon as possible.
Cut back or remove blackberry bushes and overgrown shrubs, particularly ones near your house. Remove low branches from ornamental shrubs to provide less cover for rodents. Pull out ivy, jasmine, honeysuckle and other dense ground cover, particularly near your house where they can encourage rodents to enter.
Remove seeds or seedpods from bushes before they fall. Rats and mice feed on many types of nuts and seeds.
Install squirrel guards on any bird feeders in your garden or remove feeders entirely.
Plant fruit trees where they will not touch fences, other trees or wires, or prune them so they are no longer touching these objects. Cut off low branches that touch the ground.
Bend a 2-foot-wide piece of sheet metal around the base of each fruit tree to form a rat guard. Attach the ends with an adhesive such as epoxy, and push the rat guard slightly into the ground to make sure there is no space for rats to climb under it.
Place your compost in an elevated bin, at least 1 foot off of the ground. Stir your compost frequently and cover all food waste with dirt to avoid feeding rodents.
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Rats and Mice -- Get Them Out of Your House and Yard
- Washington State University Extension: Rats & Mice
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Rat Management Guidelines
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Control of Roof Rats in Fruit Trees