Rodents love the garden and many of us have probably experienced them at one time or another. I have and never really thought about sharing my solutions until recently when our son was here.
He left his car with us after his Christmas visit because work was taking him overseas. His vehicle was rather messy so I mentioned, “You might want to clean it up before you leave. He smiled and said, “I’ll do that when I come back.”
I love my son but his idea of a clean car is very different than mine and needless to say he left it as is.
When he came back this spring guess what he found inside? First there was a snake snuggled inside a box and second a couple rodent nests. The snake was actually a blessing because it took care of the mice.
He was appalled and it was all I could do to keep my mouth shut. He finally cleaned out the car before leaving and I’m pretty sure this taught him a valuable lesson.
But what about the garden? Why do mice arrive and decide to take up residence?
Rodents Arrive in the Garden for a Few Reasons
- They discover nesting materials.
- It’s a great place to cool off and get warm.
- Most of all they can eat, drink and live happily ever after.
Nesting Material and Mulch
The garden is a great place for nesting materials; depending on how your garden is set up it can also be a great place to make a nest.
These nasty critters build nests underground or create piles of materials similar to how a bird makes a nest. These dens provide a home base and because the garden also offers food and water it’s the perfect rodent resort.
- Hay is amazing nest material and I didn’t realize this until after my second season of using hay for garden mulch. This wasn’t a huge problem but a few mice were roaming around and I welcomed them.
- Soft mulch can be another welcoming nest material because it’s easier to gather and dig through.
For those of us in warmer climates mulch is necessary to maintain moisture so think about using wood chips. Add a thick layer of chips, they’re less difficult to gather and challenging to get underneath.
Cooling off and Getting Warm
Regardless of the season rodents are always on patrol looking for that perfect place to nest, so it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or warm they still need a home. Make your garden less inviting by doing some of the following things.
- Keep grass cut and trimmed
- Keep your nearby ditches and grassy field areas cut, rodents love tall grass.
- Remove outside clutter.
- Remove tree rubble.
- Basically, keep your outdoor space neat and tidy.
They Love to Eat and Drink
Since the garden is a haven for food rodents will arrive to eat, especially if open compost bins are nearby. Consider changing things up a bit because open compost bins are like an invitation to rodents and other small critters.
Direct Composting is a clean solution because the food waste gets worked into the soil fast, read more here. I’ve never had a problem with rodents using this method and I make sure to dig deep and cover immediately so the worms can feast and enjoy first.
Water is another attraction because rodents also get thirsty. If you gather water make sure to cover when you’re not using. Covering will also detour mosquitoes which seem to multiply overnight.
Tips for Detouring Garden Mice
So, we covered what attracts rodents to the garden and I think we can agree keeping things tidy is extremely important. The following are some that actually help detour pests from arriving and it begins with mint.
- Plant Mint, this wonderful herb can be planted in pots around the garden perimeter or sprinkle dried mint around planted areas. Mint works as a natural deterrent; can also be incorporated through oils.
- Get a Cat, they love to hunt and eat rodents and if their scent is present most mice won’t even consider making the garden home. If this is a valid option keep in mind they need to be an outdoor cat with minimal feedings so they’re encouraged to hunt.
- Planting additional herbs can also be a benefit because rodents don’t like the strong scent. Herbs like basil, thyme and garlic will turn off rodents.
Naturally Removing Infestation
If you spot rodents there is an easy way to remove by using instant potato flakes. This is an in expensive tip and will eliminate the problem. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls where you think a nest is present at night and they’ll arrive to eat. After this occurs the flakes expand in the stomach and well they die.
NOTE: If you have pets keep these flakes out of there reach.
This technique may sound harsh but it’s about as natural as it gets unless you want to result to good old-fashioned mouse traps.
Keep rodents from arriving by making your garden space uninviting. Just clean up and make sure you don’t give them a reason to show up.
Remember gardening and nature go hand in hand and if you live further out in the country sometimes it can be more difficult to control these pests than those who live in suburban areas.
My grandma always told me, cleanliness is next to godliness. Being clean is a sign of spiritual purity or goodness, something rodents really don’t understand.