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How to get Rid of Rats in the Yard?



Anyone seeing a rat scurry through their yard or garden has reason to take some quick defensive measures to get rid of these rodents before they do any damage. It’s important to act as quickly as possible because rats can bring disease into your yard that can affect your children and pets, as well as cause damage to the fruits and vegetables growing in your garden. There are a number of effective ways how to get rid of rats in the yard safely and permanently.

(1) Give rats an eviction notice by removing the places where they like to build their homes. These include piles of wood planks and lumber that are stacked permanently and not often disturbed. Another favorite place where rats congregate include bushes, vines and shubbery that are overgrown and never trimmed back. Piles of rocks in a yard or garden provide another cozy living space for rats in a yard and should be removed. Holes in the foundation of a house that allow rats to scurry back and forth between the yard and under the house should be repaired to prevent access. Old furniture, appliances or other box-like discards laying around a yard are just asking for a family of rats to move in, so remove them to the junk yard.

(2) Stop feeding rats by enabling them to feast on a garbage buffet. Many homeowners whose yards are plagued by rats simply fail to secure their garbage cans with lids, rope or cords. Open garbage containers and containers whose lids are not secured allow the food contents to spill out into the yard, sending an aromatic signal to neighborhood rats that there’s free chow for the asking in and around the garbage bins in your yard. Make sure that you seal your food garbage in plastic bags prior to putting it into the trash bin, and always keep your trash bins covered and adequately sealed so that there is no food, drippings or other enticing litter that will attract rats to your yard. If you must store foods like pet chow in the garage, make sure it is in sealed metal containers that can’t easily spill open.

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(3) Bring on the heavy artillery if steps one and two haven’t worked and visit your local gardening or hardware store to invest in some organic rodent repellent which can be shaken in pellets over the ground. This type of repellent carries the scent of a predator animal that rats fear, so they’ll steer clear of anywhere in your yard where this repellent has been distributed. Although stronger poisons and traps can be very effective, they are not recommended if children or pets use the yard because they present an added danger. It’s often best to stick with more humane solutions for ridding your yard of rats.

(4) Adopt a dog, preferably from your local animal shelter. Rats will never congregate in any yard where Fido rules the roost.

Related Video:

First Aid & Safety Tips : How to Get Rid of Rodents Naturally


Allan Thomes has been a professional writer for 1 &1/2 years. He joined the THF Team in May, 2011. Along with the numerous other hobbies he enjoys, Allan spends many hours doing home remodeling projects, entertaining family and friends, and gardening.

  • Dave

    Hi Allan, I really like your post. There is a website: that would compliment your post and could be beneficial to your readers. Thanks

  • Jessigreene Jg

    really !!cuz we have 4 dogs out where we are having issues so hows that work ?

  • PennyV

    One of the best ways of repelling mice/rats in yards, gardens, or houses is to plant mint and lavender plants all around the house and yard, especially peppermint.  The aroma of peppermint oil is too strong for the mouse/rat’s oversensitive nose, so they avoid it whenever possible.  If you don’t want to grow peppermint or other types of mint plants, you can use peppermint essential oil on a variety of materials and place those in strategic places.  The basic idea is to overwhelm the rat’s or mouse’s sense of smell, because it heavily relies on its sense of smell for survival.

    Normally rats and mice avoid areas where there is a cat or dog because they are natural predators for the rats and mice. Cats and dogs both tend to mark their territory by urinating on various plants and items around the yard and house, and the strong ammonia smell of the urine overwhelms the rat’s or mouse’s nose the same way peppermint oil does.  Cats and dogs also have the tendency to pounce on and bite into anything that catches their attention through movement.  Both cats and dogs normally have built-in hunting instincts, even if its only developed through their play activities.  In addition, cats and dogs are usually domesticated, and carry the smell of humans on them.

  • aimnnseosminaicac

     Well…… dogs have no effect on the two rats that are eating our tree from the inside out. We have two dogs, and the neighbors on all 3 sides of us all have dogs. We flooded their hole yesterday and they came shooting out right past 3 dogs, so we now know for sure that they are rats. We don’t really know what to do about these nasty critters. We live in the city and we keep our yard/house very clean and our backyard is all dirt (grass does not grow well here) except for the big tree with a partially hollowed out trunk that the rats took a liking to. We boarded up the trunk entrance with concrete blocks and screwed in a bunch of lumber to make sure there isn’t a way in. I don’t have time to make a garden of mint… should I try pouring mint oil or straight ammonia all over the base of the tree? I don’t really want to harm them but when facing the fact that rats carry nasty diseases, and I have two dogs whom I do not want to get sick, I will do about anything to rid of them as long as I don ‘t have to use any sort of poison. All the information I’ve found keeps saying keep garbage out of the yard yada yada etc. We’ve set a live trap for two weeks straight every evening and it hasn’t been touched. I’m hoping the eviction deters them from remaking their nest, what do we do if they do come back? hellllllllllp!

    -vanessa sacramento ca

  • PennyV

    Vanessa, what type of tree is it?  You said it was partially hollowed out, so I’m assuming the tree may already be dead.  So why not remove the tree?  If it’s dead, then the tree presents a safety hazard anyway, since a dead tree will eventually fall over.

    However, if the tree isn’t dead, and the rats come back, then try placing pure mint or cedar oil in some strategic areas of the yard and around the base of your house, and around the tree.  You can soak rags in the oil and then tie them to the tree, near their nest.

  • johnj

    mint or cedar oil ? where do you get it ? thanks

  • PennyV

    Johnj, you can get both types of oil from any store or shop that sells essential oils.  Most health/nutrition stores sell them, as do most bath & spa shops.  You can just type in (buy mint oil or cedar oil in the search bar of your browser and find hundreds of places selling these types of oils online and offline.  Some department and grocery stores also carry them nowadays.

  • Eidos101

    Yup.  I have two huge dogs and the rats outnumber them at this point!!  They have moved residence from under the dog house to right next to my slider door!!  I can’t take it anymore!

  • PennyV

    Eidos, what all have you tried doing to get rid of the rats so far?  Although having dogs probably does help somewhat, they aren’t necessarily the best solution.  Usually it takes a combination of methods to get rid of rats.  Try using mint oil combined with cedar planking along the base of your house.  And perhaps you could build a cedar fence (made from real cedar, not cedar veneered wood) and plant mint/spearmint along it to help deter the rats from entering your yard.  And you might also try feeding the dogs less food so that they are hungry enough to go after the rats.

  • H_porter111011

    If the tree is hollow. Go to your local hardware store and get some spray foam and fill the hole. I own a tree service and that is what we use. If the tree is dead it needs to be removed.

  • PennyV

    H_porter111011, what type of spray foam do you recommend?  Does it make any difference on what type of tree it is, and is the foam safe to use in living trees?

  • whitelighter

    My parents have rats in their yard which I’m trying to get rid of. Problem is, I think the rats are making a home under the deck (which I was against building in the first place). There’s also a creek in their backyard with rocks along the side where rats may be nesting. My parents aren’t willing to change either of these things. I don’t want to kill the rats but we may have to. Even if we set out deadly traps for the rats, would killing just a couple rats a day really solve the problem? It’s embarrassing when there’s company rats are running around in the backyard. Maybe I’ll try the peppermint. I’d hate to call an exterminator because I don’t want to kill the squirrels & chipmonks.

  • PennyV

    Whitelighter, I can easily sympathize with both, you and your parents. I live in a rural, forested area and have dry creek beds running through my property too. I also have a porch that tempts wild critters to take up residency there. Only it’s usually coons instead of rats that end up under the porch. The rats and mice sometimes manage to get into the house or stay in our feed barn instead of just staying under the porch.

    To eliminate the problem of rats under the deck, coax all of them out by leaving food somewhere else and then seal off the area with 1/8-inch hardware mesh. You could use cedar planks, cement, or stones to seal the area off if you want to make it look better. The point is to completely close off access to under the deck. If you still want to use the space under the deck for storage, then be sure to make a door/gate that can be easily opened by humans but that an animal can’t enter. Either way, make sure there aren’t any left under the deck before closing it off.

    As for the creek area, you might try building a cedar retaining wall or fence and then plant mint and lavender all along the base of the cedar wall/fence. That way it will just enhance the natural beauty of the creek while repelling unwanted creatures. You may also try installing an electric hot wire along the creek bed just a few inches off the ground. The hot wire would barely be noticeable but could possibly deter the rodents. You just have to remember to mark the hot wire in a way to keep humans from accidentally getting zapped.

  • jp

    rats love to eat dog poop. It has lots of nutrition for them so it needs to be removed as much as possible.
    Set traps in a cage that your dogs or local wild life cannot get into but make a small opening for the rat to enter.
    rats will learn over time so change the bait. Peanutbutter and cheesewiz work well.
    good luck

  • PennyV

    This is a good point, JP! When using live traps for any critter, remember to change the type of bait used once in awhile. Also keep areas free of any animal droppings and don’t keep pet food or a pet water dishes easily available to other critters. Once your pet has eaten and had a good drink, then store the remaining food and water in a seal-tight container.

  • Tony Goldense

    I have dogs and still rats in my shed and scurrying in my yard all the time..

  • PennyV

    Tony, dog urine only helps to deter rats if other pest control management techniques have also been utilized. You haven’t described your yard or the condition the shed is in, so I can’t give you any specific advice on how to get rid of them. But you might want to consider our forum discussion on how to get rid of mice ( to get some ideas on what to do or else try a combination of the ideas listed in some of the other comments given for this article. Basically, you have to eliminate everything that attracts the rats to your property, especially any food, water and shelter resources for the rats.