Plants to deter rats from your garden – ‘offensive’ and ‘repulsive’

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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It is extremely important to try and get rid of rats as soon as they appear in the garden or in the home. They pose a major hygiene threat as they carry a range of parasites and illnesses with them. Instead of harming the rats, they can be deterred using specific plants which are “offensive” and “repulsive” towards the animals.

Jordan Foster from Fantastic Pest Control explained: “There is no doubt rats are smart. They’re good at hiding until it’s too late. Rats usually get into your garden because it’s an excellent place to hide and a constant food source.

“You’ve got to use some serious rat control methods or hire a pro to get rid of the rodents once they’re settled. Most rats burrow 45cm to 60cm but can dig even deeper. Keep in mind however, that they can dig their way into a house by digging beneath its foundations.

“Your focus should be not only on catching the rats but deterring them. The first thing that comes to mind is poison and traps. 

“Surrounding your garden with traps and poisonous stuff is not very convenient if you have pets and children nearby, some organic pest control methods can help you. People have known for quite some time that certain plants are effective at deterring rodents.”

Jordan added that using plants to deter rats is “effective” in the spring and summer months when they are actively growing. When it is really cold outside, Britons should keep their gardens clean and keep bins out of sight.

One smell which will help to keep rats at bay is mint. The expert said: “The smell of mint is very offensive to rats. Planting mint in different spots around your garden is an excellent way to keep rodents out.

“The smell of garlic is also repulsive to rats. If they get too close, they’ll think twice. Try squirting garlic water down a rat burrow.”

Garlic has several sulphur compounds that emit a pungent smell which rats absolutely hate. What’s more, September is a great time to plant garlic.

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Rats rely on their sense of smell to find food and avoid dangerous situations like predators. This means using plants which are extremely strong can help to deter a number of different pests, including rats.

The pest control expert continued: “Imagine that one of our favourite smells, lavender, can have quite the opposite effect on rats.

“It can keep them from finding food because of its potent smell. Place it around decks, garden structures, and around the perimeter of your garden where rats might be attracted.”

Other plants such as daffodils and marigolds are also disliked by rats. They can be planted near each other to help keep rats away permanently.

Essential oils can also be used around plant pots to keep pests away. This is more effective during the winter months when plants and trees are dormant.

Jordan also recommended keeping clutter to a minimum because this will be less inviting for rats. He added: “The lawn is included. If your grass is high, it’s perfect for hiding, so make sure you mow it regularly.

“Fix all the holes in the walls and doors, and ensure there are no hollow areas under the shed that could be hiding spots. You’ll keep rats out of the shed this way. Rats like to hide in wood piles. You can prevent rats from getting into your house by keeping a woodpile away from your fence or house.

“Store your firewood at least four feet away from any structure and 18 inches off the ground. A rubbish bin lock also ensures that rats and any other wildlife aren’t attracted to the smell of organic waste.”

Rats inside property can also be a problem for many, with the rodents squeezing through tiny gaps in walls. To prevent this, the expert recommended sealing any gaps in walls with wire wool, cement or caulk.

If none of these solutions work, Jordan said trapping is a “poison-free” way to get rid of the rodents. He explained: “Trapping has replaced rodenticides and harsh poisons as the most effective way to eliminate rats.

“Bait can be peanut butter, unsalted seeds, bananas or apples. Be sure to place traps in high-activity areas.

“Keeping rats away from your garden takes time and consistency. It would be best to have rat pest control once you’ve established a rat infestation.”

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