Rat Proof Garden: How To Get Rid Of Rodents In Garden Spaces


Your garden is your pride and joy, and you put a lot of time and effort into making it flourish. So you’re going to want a rat proof garden.

As a gardener, rodents are one of your biggest nightmares. They eat your crops, leave droppings everywhere, spread disease, and hide in the most inconspicuous places. Not only that, but they multiply insanely fast.

In fact, a rodent only has a three-week gestation period. It can birth up to 14 babies per litter, and a female can have up to 10 separate litters each year. And that’s just one rodent. So if you notice any rodents in your garden, you are going to want to act swiftly to eliminate them.

You can’t use a pest control option that will harm your plants, and you don’t want to use one that will harm the environment. And if you’re a pet owner, you want something safe around your animals.

Likely, you’ll be asking how to keep mice out of garden beds by now! Luckily, there are many natural ways to both kill and deter rodents so that you can keep your crops and flowers growing beautifully all season long.

Rat Proof Garden
Garden rodents might be cute, but they’re a big problem. Source: me’nthedogs

Skip The Mulch

Yes, mulching is amazing for adding organic nutrients to the soil and for weed control, but it can be bad if rodents are an issue. It seems to just draw them in, begging them to make a nest and get comfortable.

If you must mulch, opt for the wood-chip variety since they shouldn’t be able to bury themselves underneath it.

Get A Cat

Cats love to hunt mice; that’s not a secret. If you want to get rid of mice without having to lift a finger, get an outdoor cat to take care of them!

The great thing about cats is that they can fend for themselves. As long as you make sure the cat has food, water, and shelter available (and that it’s spayed or neutered), then you’re set.

Plant Mint

The smell of mint is a natural deterrent for rodents. This makes it a great addition to any garden. Keep a few pots around the perimeter of your garden and inside the greenhouse.

If you don’t want another plant to tend to, you can also scatter dried mint around the openings of the greenhouse. Alternately, soak some cotton balls in peppermint oil and let them do the job. Just make sure to replace them every couple of weeks.

Put Up Solar-Powered Repellers

By using ultrasonic frequencies, these little gadgets utilize sound and vibrations to scare rodents and keep them away. Since they’re solar powered, they are still environmentally friendly, and they should keep the rodents at bay.

One unit covers about 6,000 square feet, so you may need a few of them depending on how large your garden is. As the frequencies are geared towards rodents specifically, the sounds will not be noticeable by you, your children, or your pets.

Create A Border Of Herbs

In addition to mint, most rats and mice are put off by strong herbal scents, such as basil, echinacea, garlic, and thyme. To keep away the rodents, plant a border of these herbs around the outside of your garden. Once the rodents smell them, they will think your garden has nothing to offer and they’ll turn away.

Mouse in garden
Mice can become a major problem. Source: epicnom

Use Humane Mouse Traps

The traditional snap traps work, but they are not always effective, and when they are, it is not a pretty sight. There are several mouse traps out there that use other methods, like the Nooski mouse trap (not an affiliate, just a good product).

When the mouse is lured into the trap by the bait, a latex ring is sprung around the rodent’s neck to suffocate it. This type of trap makes cleaning the mice up easier, and it has a very high success rate.

Store Pet Food Securely

Another huge attraction for mice and rats is pet food and chicken feed. Make sure you place these edible attractions where rodents cannot access them easily, and limit how much you put out at a time.

It’s a good idea to use an airtight storage container like a Vittles Vault to store your pet food. Not only does it keep the food fresh, but it locks all the food aromas inside.

Build A Sturdy Fence

If you don’t have a fence already, build one. If you do have a fence around your garden, then you need to make it more secure. Often, rodents will crawl under the garden gate, so pay extra attention to this area and reinforce it.

Rodents also burrow under fences. You can stop them with some 1/4″ grid hardware cloth.  Dig a trench along your fence, going 6″ down and about 6″ out from the fence. Staple the hardware cloth to the base of your fence. Then, bring it down below the soil surface and cover it. This creates an underground barrier.

Sprinkle Instant Potatoes

Instant potatoes are cheap, and they are surprisingly effective at eliminating rodents. Simply sprinkle a few tablespoons of the powder wherever you suspect a mouse infestation. The mice will eat them (obviously), and after they do, the flakes will expand in their stomachs.

Since their stomachs are so small, the mice won’t stand a chance, and they will die before the potatoes can be digested. However, if you have other pets, be careful that they don’t eat your potato flakes!

Squirrel in garden
Squirrels can also become a problem, especially if you have fruiting plants. Source: holdit

Place Onions Around The Garden

Onions are pungent, and rodents hate them, and you don’t even have to grow them for this trick to work. All you have to do is place an onion where you suspect the mice are entering, and they will take one smell and run the other way.

You just have to make sure to put a new onion out every couple of days or it will rot. And again, keep the onion away from any pets, as onions are poisonous to dogs!

Alternately, consider growing onions, leeks, and garlic around the exterior of your garden beds. That tends to repel a number of pests, not just rodents.

When you have devoted countless hours to meticulously care for your garden, the last thing you want to worry about is a rodent infestation that destroys it all. By taking some extra steps to keep the rodents away, you can keep your garden fruitful all season long.

Author Bio: Michael is an avid gardener who has ample experience keeping rodents out of his garden using natural methods. As an employee of Richland Pest & Bee Control, he helps his customers across Connecticut and Massachusetts keep their gardens and homes pest free.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

Kevin Espiritu

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16 thoughts on “Rat Proof Garden: How To Get Rid Of Rodents In Garden Spaces”

  1. The rats in Brooklyn, New York ate my newly planted thyme, orange mint, spearmint and tore up a hosta in their run path after I fenced off their easy path in my garden. The chives, garlic and scallions planted in pots are not harmed. Evidently the allium family works but they are pissed off about the chicken-wire fence. I’m looking for a BB gun!!!!! I DON’T LIKE THEIR ATTITUDE!!!

    • Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about New York rats! Maybe if you planted a barrier of alliums around your other herbs it would deter them?

  2. We are in the San Francisco area, and the temperate weather is heaven for rodents. Any thoughts on electric fencing or something similar? I saw a chicken coop at a open house recently, and they had wires hooked up to the hardware cloth enclosure. I figured it was probably to prevent raccoons, but the homeowners were not around to ask. This is the first year of the vegetable garden and they’re ruining everything we’ve planted. We have bean plants and they’ve been attacked by something, which I suspect are rats (we’ve seen them inside the fenced yard, and I trapped one a couple of weeks ago). They’ve eaten some plants to the ground. I put cages around them an they crawled up the tubes and down into them to eat the plants. Only 2 of 6 are left. Who knew bean plants were that desirable? They are eating the melon plants & melon flowers (no melons yet, but I’m sure they’ll be gone), strawberry flowers, strawberries, cherry tomatoes – everything except the lettuce. I have an orange tree in a large pot and they crawled up the slippery sides of the pot and ate all 10 of the oranges last year.

    • Usually, electric fences around chicken coops are meant to deter larger predators such as coyotes, raccoons, and the like. But if you’ve seen rats, it’s very likely that they’re your culprit. I’d recommend investing in some humane traps.

      For the orange tree, you can also buy arborist’s sticky paint and paint a band around the trunk, which may act as a deterrent against rats climbing up from the base. You should be able to find it at nurseries. It’s used more to prevent ants, but a wide band of that would create a surface that the rats wouldn’t like. However, you’ll have to repaint the band occasionally to keep it sticky and fresh.

      A hardware cloth enclosure on its own isn’t a bad idea around your garden, but it may not keep the rats out entirely. Rats climb really well, and if the mesh is close enough together they may just scale up it. You might want to consider using some form of netting over your plants to discourage the rats as well.

      Raised bed covers would help to keep rodents out (especially if the sides were weighted down securely to prevent the rodents from going underneath, but unfortunately they also keep the pollinating insects out. Unless you want to hand-pollinate, they may not be the best solution for you.

      I know it’s a tricky situation to deal with, but the best thing I can say is to keep trying other options and don’t give up!

    • To a point, yes. Each type of small rodent has a different preference in plants it’ll eat, so what works for one particular species will not always work for all of them. For instance, I know folks who grow mint because their rabbits love to chew on it, so mint won’t necessarily work against wild rabbits!

      Options that should be interchangeable include: getting a cat, putting up solar-powered repellers, using humane traps, storing pet food securely so they aren’t drawn in by scattered kibble, using hardware cloth buried beneath a fenceline to prevent them from digging under the fence, and sprinkling potato flakes around. Allium plants may also deter some of those pests, so grow onions, garlic, or leeks.

  3. I live on the NH border in MA in a house built in 1900 that has a fieldstone foundation. We are constantly battling rodents, woodchucks and deer. Humane mouse traps are set in the basement. I tried hanging 5 gallon buckets off my pergola with cucumbers and zucchini. Just when they’re ready to pick, I go out and there’s always a bite taken out. Since I can’t eliminate the mice, I make my own “tick tubes” with pymethrin and dryer lint With the thought that the lint is contained until the mice take it back to their nests and it will kill the ticks only. Hubby feeds the birds sunflower seeds and I captured 3 deer on the critter camera eating out of the feeder. We have caught 12 woodchucks in the have a heart trap over the years (or the same one keeps coming back). Except for the pymethrin, (I’m petrified of Lyme disease) I keep everything organic. My husband jokes that “all are welcomed” in our yard. I try to garden with native plants. This year, I may try veggies in containers on my front porch. It’s a constant challenge but these creatures have lost their enviornmeants due to over construction and have had to adapt to survive. Until I run out of patience, I will continue to try and adapt as well.
    Happy gardening <3

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