With the boom of rodents after the Pandemic, which increased their population significantly due to a lack of people outside, today, UK gardeners face a true challenge. Since people are back in the streets and this environment is no longer safe for them to seek food and shelter, the vast number of mice has scattered across the suburbs in less densely populated neighbourhoods, where gardens offer a prime food source.
So naturally, that’s a significant health risk for you and your pets, as mice are well-known serious disease carriers. Moreover, you don’t even have to touch the rodent to get infected, as many of these diseases are transmitted through their saliva and other bodily fluids. The bad news is that rodents love the same plants as we do, so they will munch on leaves, veggies and other products in your garden, and afterwards, you will eat the rest.
Needless to say, you should get rid of the problem as fast as possible, so we’ve prepared the ultimate guide to creating a mice-free garden.
How to recognise the signs of infestation
If you have a rat infestation, you will notice it without us telling you a single sign. Of course, if that happens, you will detect the pest invasion simply because you will see the rodents. Still, the point is to prevent mice from establishing a foothold in your garden. So here are the more subtle signs that you have an unwanted guest in your garden.
If you live above the underground, that might be a regular occurrence, although if you manage to reach the metro, you overdid yourself with the digging. Still, small tunnels beneath your garden are a sure sign that rodents took the liberty of making your garden their buffet. Rodents love using tunnels as they can get to your veggies undetected and munch on the roots without the fear of getting caught. Naturally, noticing these tunnels is not as easy as it sounds, so you might want to look out for the mounds. Mice don’t leave as high mounds as gophers, for example, but they are still visible if your garden is well-maintained.
That’s definitely not the most pleasant way to find out you have a rodent problem, but it’s the surest way to determine something has been ravishing your garden. The droppings will look like tiny, soft, brown rice seeds, so be aware if you see such in and around your garden.
Visible marks on your plants
Many would suggest that you should be vigilant about disappearing plants. Though we would argue that if your plants disappear overnight, you have already lost the battle. Still, regularly check your plants for bite marks, as this will give you an idea that your garden has been noticed, and soon the whole family of mice will join the feast. You might argue that many animals chew on veggies, but only a few do it from the root up.
What attracts mice to your garden
This can be quickly answered in one simple word – food. Food is what mice seek. Unfortunately, your veggies are a delight for the uninvited guests. Still, mice are scavengers and don’t hunt for a specific meal. They can survive on what they find, so whether it be plants, berries, seeds, grains, roots, pet food, dropped snacks or any other sustenance, this is a good enough call for the rodents to come and take some.
However, mice are not as brave as some Disney movies would make you believe. In fact, they prefer to stay hidden, and safety is a much more pressing issue than hunger. So if your garden is well-maintained and there are no places to hide like compost piles, sheds, clutter, wood piles or other shelters, they are likely to prefer a neighbour’s garden.
Finally, rodents also need a water source, so if you have a pond or an automatic watering system, that makes it all the better for them.
How to keep them out
Ultimately attracting the mice is not the problem. But, on the other hand, preventing them from getting into your garden is one genuinely herculean task. If you don’t want to host these pesky pests, you need to know how to discourage them from ever wanting to visit your garden, or at least make it hostile enough, so they will prefer your neighbour’s yard.
Here’s what you need to do.
Limit their access to sustenance
As already mentioned, the main reason mice are attracted to your garden is the quality of life they can get there. So a simple way to discourage them from coming in is to make your garden as rodent-unfriendly as possible. Your first step should be eliminating all potential food and water sources and shelters. But, naturally, that doesn’t mean you should burn down your garden altogether. Yes, this might be a food source, but you should keep any additional food sources like bird feeders, pet food, and similar under close observation whether they are attracting pests.
Moreover, make sure always to gather all the food, nuts and seeds that your plants produce. Otherwise, not only rodents but all sorts of pests will make your garden their permanent home.
Lastly, ensure your compost is enclosed and far away from your garden.
Build fences and fill the holes
Your next step to protect your garden should be building a fence. Now, you accurately assume that mice will easily climb over these fences, but still, this will present a risk for them they might not be ready to take. So, take a hardware cloth and bury it about 45-50 cm below ground level. After that, build your fence several cm away from your garden and about 20 cm deep. This way, if any rodent tries to go under, it will hit the cloth and turn back. You can even put a small electric charge to the fence, one that won’t harm any living being but will certainly deter rodents from trying to climb it.
Many people will jump on the trap idea right out of the bag. However, that’s way too aggressive, especially if the game you are playing is called prevention and not extermination. Traps are dangerous not only for pests but also for your children and pets. So, while they are a perfect solution if you find yourself with a garden full of mice, going straight to this solution whenever you suspect something might be going on is a bit of an overkill.
Moreover, the kill traps can also snuff out butterflies and birds, while those that only catch rodents will put you in a very awkward position to decide whether to kill the pest and dispose of it according to the law or let it loose somewhere far away. Either way, it’s too much extra work. So, traps are fine only as a last resort.
Adopt a cat
That’s the better solution, as cats are natural-born hunters and love to dispose of mice. Still, you must remember that cats are not dogs, as the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical reiterates at its end. So, just leaving a cat in your garden is far too dangerous. The cat will probably go away, attract aggressive strays, and catch a disease or run away.
On the other hand, if you trust your kitty, it can take care of itself. Don’t be surprised if every rat caught in your garden ends up in your shoes or even worse. After all, that’s how cats show their deep respect.
Regardless, having a cat is a good solution as they are not only cute and an excellent pet for your children, but they will also scare away mice who try to get to your garden without necessarily catching or killing them.
Plant a herb fence
If you don’t want to be so cruel as to electrify the mice or you simply look for a cheaper solution, just make your fence out of plants and herbs that naturally repel rodents. There are a ton of them, and all will work wonders. For example, Castor beans and Artemisias are excellent at repelling mice. So are garlic, mint, onion and some other veggies. You can even place some scents that discourage rodents and insects from entering your garden. For example, Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, cloves, and peppers will turn all mice away with their smell.
If you search the internet, you will also find suggestions about vinegar, bleach and ammonia, which are also highly effective. However, if we are talking about a garden, it’s probably best to keep these drastic measures for desperate times rather than use them as a deterrent.
If everything else fails
If all else fails, don’t despair. You can always call a professional mice control specialist to solve your problem. Of course, it will cost a bit extra, but the results speak for themselves. And when it comes to your precious garden, can you really put a price on it?