What you need to know:
Controlling rodents is no easy feat, especially if they have already turned your garden into their home. To get rid of them permanently requires vigilance and consistency
A rodent invasion is a cause of frustration and disappointment to many gardeners because of destruction they leave behind. Rats are generally attracted to urban gardens particularly because they provide food, water, and safety. If you are one of those people that do not want to use pesticides in your garden, the good news is that rats can usually be managed effectively without relying on toxic pesticides. But just like in many other situations, prevention is better than cure. Here are some sure ways to get rid of the rodent infestation.
Work with glue patches
As you would in your house when in need of catching an invading rodent, place glue patches in your garden to catch these rodents.
“You will need cardboard to apply the glue to as well as bait that will attract the rodents to it. The cheapest bait is mukene (silver fish) and ground nuts. You must also place a rock or something heavy on the cardboard to prevent it from being blown away by the wind or the rodent running off in case it is not totally glued,” Nakiryowa says.
This method, however, only works in the dry season as rains will mess up the cardboard as well as wash away the bait. Another issue with the method is that other creatures such as ants may start eating away at the bait thus lowering its efficacy.
Use metallic mesh rat traps
While many consider these as outdated, they work to help you get rid of rodents.
“Randomly place them in your garden with bait and then kill all the trapped rats while they are still in the trap. We use hot water and while it is brutal, these are pests that do not take into account your hard labour when destroying your plants,” Nakiryowa say.
However, if one has pets and toddlers, this method may work against them, causing accidents. Therefore, caution must be taken when using them.
Use hot chillies
Hot pepper has capsaicin, an active component in peppers which is an irritant to animals, including rodents as it produces a sensation of burning on any tissue with which it gets into contact.
“Get this chilli powder and sprinkle it everywhere and it will drive out rodents. That is because these have a strong sense of smell that even beats dogs. Therefore, they will inhale the chocking smell of chilli which will drive them away. I have tried it and it works,” Nakiryowa says.
Sprinkling chilli on vegetables will also help you fight against bugs and caterpillar that attack vegetables.
It also has a smell that rodents detest yet can also help to deal with other pests such as bugs that eat up soft stemmed plants.
“Sprinkle cinnamon powder on vegetables as well as where rodents present themselves,” Imani Kiwanuka, a gardener says.
The downside is that the method is costly as it must be done continually. The cheaper option is to plant cinnamon trees but these need lots of water and fertilisation to do well and will take some time to grow.
Proper waste management
From pieces of wood, containers and the like, these create a nesting place for the rodents and are an invitation for them to make a home if there is any around your garden. “Get rid of these and also mow the lawns because overgrown grass provides a good hiding place,” Rachel Nakirya, a gardener says.
If you must have firewood for home use, it is important that this is stored a considerable height of say, 20 inches off the ground so rodents do not find it a conducive place to nest.
Rodents come to gardens or homes in search of food. Rubbish bins and dumping grounds present a ready source of food. Kiwanuka says it helps to rubbish in a well-covered place.
“If it can be under lock so rodents cannot easily access it, it is much better. That way, chances of rodents making your home their home is reduced,” she says.
Working with plants
Nature presents us with plants that work well for different uses. Seeing that rodents use their sense of smell to sense where food, growing plants with strong offensive smells will help in the fight against rodents. Some of these are:
While this will give your tea, pastries, soups and sauces an amazing flavour, rodents cannot stand the herb’s aroma. “To put up a defense against rodents, plant mint across your garden or in different spots in the garden, it will keep these creatures out,” Kiwanuka says.
Just like mint, peppermint has an aroma that rodents cannot stand.
“While you can work with the oil, planting the spice gives a cheaper and long lasting method to keep rodents out,” Nakiryowa says. Other oils one can work with in this fight include eucalyptus, and citronella.
Get a cat
The easiest way to deter rodents from anywhere near your garden and home is by owning a cat. Cats will eat both adults and baby rats, and will also help deter snakes. “The presence of rats attracts snakes as these provide food for snakes. You also have to realise that rats have a great sense of smell. If they smell cat urine, they will stay away,” Jane Ziriana Nakiryowa, a florist shares.