6 safe and effective methods to stop rats visiting your garden

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Rats are usually unwelcome visitors in a garden and they are generally considered vermin, with the potential to spread serious diseases. Rats set up home beneath the decking, in sheds, greenhouses or compost heaps. Express.co.uk spoke to Jordan Foster, Pest Control Expert at Fantastic Pest Control about the most humane and effective methods to get rid of rats and deter them from returning. 

Rats are nocturnal, so there is a high chance you might not see them scurrying around the garden, but there are other signs to look out for. 

Jordan shared the four signs you have rats in your garden; rat droppings, a pet acting strangely, rat burrows or rat bite marks. 

Rat droppings – The expert said: “It is very easy to spot rat droppings; they are a sure sign of an infestation. About 10 mm long, they are oval-shaped and resemble large rice grains.” 

A pet is acting strangely – “When there is an infestation, cats and dogs will be the first to notice,” he added. “Something is hiding if your pet stalks holes and crevices too much.” 

Rat burrows –“In addition to digging holes, rats make shallow tunnels,” Jordan revealed. “They are usually placed near food sources.” Look out for the burrows alongside walls, fences or buildings that are up to 10cm wide. 

Rat bite marks – “Rubber hoses are the most common thing you can find in the garden that rats gnaw on,” he said. “Teeth marks are a major warning sign of a rodent infestation.” 

How to get rid of rats 

As for how you go about getting rid of rats in a garden, he shared six methods. 

“In most cases, poisons and traps are the first things that come to mind,” Jordan commented. “You don’t want your garden surrounded by poisonous traps and elements all the time when you are cultivating it and caring for pets and children. There are some organic pest control methods that you can use.” 

1. Plants that keep rats away – mint, basil, lavender, thyme

The expert explained: “The rats will consider them a no-go area and better run to your neighbour’s garden, which has no ‘repulsive’ border around it.

“A fresh herb garden will keep the rodents away, keep mosquitoes away in summer, and give the garden a pleasant scent.” 

2. Get rid of all clutter 

“To get rid of rats, you need to remove all clutter that provides them with hiding places,” he added. 

“It may be enough for them to find your garden uninhabitable, even if you provide plenty of food. It includes the lawn as well. 

“Keeping high grass mowed regularly will prevent it from becoming a hiding place.” 

3. Remove water sources

“Rats, unlike mice, cannot survive without water,” Jordan said. While it’s not advisable to remove garden ponds, if you have a birdbath, remove it temporarily as “rats won’t stay for long” if there is no water source.  

Also, check your hose, or outside tap and fix any drips or holes. Secure drains too and add baffles to drainpipes. 

4. Put soft garden furnishings away

“Place your patio furniture cushions in a secure cabinet when they are not used,” he shared. “Rats love soft surfaces just like we do, so it is no surprise that they love napping on them too. 

“Store cushions to keep them clean and free of rat poop and urine.” 

5. Keep woodpiles covered 

“The woodpile provides rats with a nice little hiding place when they need privacy,” Jordan said. “Woodpiles should be kept from your house and fence to prevent rats from entering. 

“Store firewood at least 18 inches above the ground and four feet from any structures.” 

6. Protect your compost bin 

For a few weeks, don’t add food scraps to the compost heap or bin, and include lots of green and brown materials instead to increase moisture content. You can also consider watering the compost heap as rats dislike wetness. 

To stop rats from digging beneath a compost bin and climbing inside, fix chicken wire around the base. 

It’s also a good idea to turn the heap regularly, but remember other wildlife use compost heaps too, so do it with care. 

Finally, if rats have made a home in your bin, don’t use the compost on edible crops. 

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