‘Very offensive’ smelling plants to deter rodents in winter

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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Rodent infestations are common during the winter months, when animals including rats seek shelter from the cold. However, rats pose a major hygiene threat as they can carry a range of parasites and illnesses with them. This makes it extremely important to recognise and deal with the infestation as soon as it occurs.

Pest control expert, Jordan, 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 deep but can dig even deeper. Keep in mind, however, that they can also dig their way into a house by digging beneath its foundations.

“Your focus should be on not only 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.”

Instead, some organic pest control methods may be useful. This includes planting “certain plants” which are “effective at deterring rodents”.

This includes the smell of mint which is “very offensive to rats”. Jordan explained: “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 to it, they’ll think twice. Try squirting garlic water down a rat burrow.”

According to the expert, rats rely on their senses of smell to find food and avoid dangerous situations like predators or something repulsive.

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Popular scents such as lavender can have the opposite effect on rotas, keeping them from finding food thanks to its “potent smell”.

Jordan added: “Place lavender around decks, garden structures, and around the perimeter of your garden where rats might be attracted.”

While these herbs and plants will be in active growth during the months of spring and summer, if you do have a rat problem, then they can also be purchased online and in garden centres.

Herbs such as basil, thyme and echinacea are also great to keep around the garden, particularly in borders.

The experts at Checkatrade also recommended using essential oils such as peppermint oil.

They said this scent can be used to “deter rats” from setting up camp in your garden. It can be placed around any item in the garden such as vegetables.

Lemon, citronella and eucalyptus oil can also be used wherever traces of the rodent are spotted.

Essential oils are great to keep rats away because they “can’t stand the smell”. Scents such as peppermint and lemon tend to be very strong.

The pest control expert noted: “If the rats smell them, they’ll think your place has nothing to offer and run to your neighbour, who probably doesn’t have a repulsive border around the garden.

“The less clutter you have, the less inviting your garden will be to rats. 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 door, and ensure there are no hollow areas under the shed that could be hiding spots, you’ll keep the rats out of the shed this way.”

Rats also like to hide in woodpiles and so you can prevent the rodent from getting into your home by keeping a woodpile away from your fence or your house.

The expert recommended storing firewood at least four feet away from any structure and at least 18 inches off the ground.

Jordan continued: “A rubbish bin lock also ensures rats and any other wildlife aren’t attracted to the smell of organic waste.

“If rats want to get in, they don’t need a big hole. They can squeeze through any hole you can stick a finger through.” This means it is extremely important to make sure there are no holes in bins as well as any gaps in the walls.

This goes for both interior and exterior walls, so make sure they are filled with wire wool, cement or caulk. This will also help to keep the heat inside the home during the winter months.

The pest expert added: “Trapping is a poison-free way to get rid of rats. 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 activist areas. Keeping rats away from your garden and property takes time and consistency. It would be best to have rat pest control once you’ve established a rat infestation.”

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