Do Gardens Attract Rats?

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Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting on a new project for 2021, there’s a lot to digest when it comes to getting things right.

Gardening is far from easy, as most beginners will tell you. There is a lot to learn, and many lessons are only learned through mess-ups and other failures.

Getting fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other plants to grow is tough, but it’s a wonderful habit millions of people enjoy.

If you’ve got the space, you owe it to yourself to find out what gardening is all about. There’s just nothing quite like seeing your efforts flower right in front of you.

With all of the effort that goes into planting and tending a garden, it’s no wonder most gardeners are concerned with keeping their plants free of pests.

Many gardeners want to rid their gardens of bugs and other pests without using chemicals, which is quite the challenge.

But what about rats? Do gardens attract rats? And if they do, how can you keep them away and clear your garden of any unwanted rodents?

Gardens attract rats as a source of food, water and shelter. For most gardens, this is normal but you can take some steps to discourage rats from making your garden their home including planting repellant plants, eliminating attractive housing and even getting a pet cat.

Brown Rat walking on grass field

Let’s explore why some rats may be drawn to gardens and what you can do to prevent an infestation.

Why Gardens Attract Rats

If you think about it for a bit, it’s really no wonder why many rats are drawn to gardens. Particularly in cities and other urban areas, gardens provide what every rat is looking for: shelter, food, and water.

Instead of squeezing through cracks in buildings or scrounging through trash bins, they can find everything they need right in one place without as many people coming through their territory every day.

Here are some of the gardens that rats enjoy and some of the reasons why.

  • Vegetable Gardens – If you were a rat, what’s not to love about a well-kept vegetable garden with easy pickings that are fenced off from other creatures that may be a threat to you? Rats love vegetables, especially fresh ones.
  • Flower Gardens – Some flowers are edible. That, on top of the presence of compost and other food scraps used for fertilizer, is why some rats find their way into flower gardens.
  • Herb Gardens – Herb gardens are probably the lowest on the list for rats when it comes to gardens they like to infest. However, a lot of herb garden owners note rats in their gardens. It’s likely due to compost in the area.
  • Urban Gardens – This one is easy. Plenty of rats like to seek refuge in urban gardens because there is so little green space in cities. Garden owners in cities also frequently use foods and other scraps for a fertilizer that rats find particularly attractive.

Does Garden Waste & Garden Compost Attract Rats?

This is a question we get a lot from new gardeners, and it’s perfectly legitimate. It’s great that so many gardeners want to compost and sustainably manage their waste.

Oftentimes that means using it and storing it in a place located near their gardens.

While it’s a wonderful idea to compost, composting food scraps certainly will attract rats. These little guys like to scrounge around in garbage cans, after all, so a composting bin or some other similar container is like a dream come true for rats.

Is it Normal to See a Rat in Your Garden During Daylight?

Rats and other rodents are largely nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t ever come out during the day. If you see a rat in your garden in the middle of the day, it can be unnerving.

You think to yourself, “They aren’t even trying to hide!” Whether you see rats in the daytime likely has something to do with the area in which you live and what sort of measures you are taking to discourage rats from going into your garden.

If there aren’t any deterrents, the rats in your area could feel emboldened. They may feel confident entering your garden during the day because they don’t feel threatened by anything.

7 tips for keeping rats out of your garden

No one likes dealing with a rodent problem, especially gardeners who put hours of sweat into their work. It’s unnerving knowing that your garden is at risk and critters are walking around in the garden while you aren’t looking.

If you’ve seen a rat in your garden or want to prevent rodents from getting in a garden in the first place, here are some tips to use for keeping rats out of your garden.

1. Think About Getting a Pet

cat chases mouse in the garden

No, this isn’t a joke. The presence of a larger animal is enough to scare rats away. They’ll be able to smell and hear your pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog.

We’re not talking about pet parrots here. The pet has to be reasonably large enough and scary enough to deter rats.

With a pet like a cat, you get peace of mind knowing odds are there aren’t any rodents you aren’t seeing either.

2. Plant Mint Around the Borders of Your Garden

This is a seasoned gardener’s go-to tip. Rats hate mint. It’s something about the scent of mint that pushes them away.

Even if you’re not into planting herbs, mint is relatively easy to grow and doesn’t take a whole lot of time and attention to nurture. In addition to mint, strong-smelling herbs like garlic and thyme can also do the trick.

3. Keep Your Yard Trim

Cutting the grass and keeping your yard neat will also go a long way in fighting off a rat infestation in your garden.

Why? Because with short grass and a manicured lawn, there is no place for them to hide.

Rats build homes in areas where there are loose tree limbs, piles of dirt, and other debris laying around. Reduce the number of places where rats could hide.

4. Don’t Keep Extra Mulch or Compost

Mulch looks great in a yard, and everyone wants a good supply of compost on hand, but keeping more than what you need is a surefire way to bring in rats.

Rats love to nest in mulch, and the allure of compost is too much for most rats to bear. Cut down on your supply and get rid of any extras to keep rats away.

5. Wash Bins in Your Yard

If you’re like most gardeners, you have containers, tools, and other items sitting around on your porch or in your garden that you use all of the time.

However, letting these items sit out for days or weeks without being cleaned can draw in rats and other rodents. Make sure to clean any items regularly to limit the attraction of rats.

Wash out bins, clean off shovels, and do whatever else you can to keep things tidy.

6. Look Into Commercial Rat Repellers

Innovative companies are coming up with interesting ways to repel rats. These days, you can purchase solar-powered rat repellers that send out a frequency signal that doesn’t jive well with most rats. T

he sound and the vibrations let them know they aren’t welcome in your garden.

7. Look for Holes

brown rat under a piece of wood

Rats love to dig, and they use their digging ability to sneak under fencing to get into your garden. Inspect your garden whenever you’re outside working and check for holes. Plug any you see to stop any unwanted rodent break-ins.

These are just some of the tips you can use to fight off a rat infestation. The battle between humans and rodents goes back centuries, and it’s part and parcel of having your own garden. Don’t give up, because the payoff of having a beautiful garden is more than worth it.


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