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.

(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


Author: Allan

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.

45 thoughts on “How to get Rid of Rats in the Yard?”

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

          1. I agree with John. Telling someone not to feed their dogs to make them catch rats! That is not only cruel to the dogs but a stupid thing to say because not all dogs care to chase rats and even fewer would actually eat them. Plus, rats carry disease.

    2. LOL.I just read that article & was about to say the same thing!I have 3 dogs & I saw some mousy looking little animal pass right in front of my smallest Honestly, my dog looked at him/her & followed him/her with his eyes & head and then looked up at me as if to say “that little creature has some nerve!”.By the way, there was a gate between the dog & mouse/gerbil or whatever he/she is.What do I do? Killing is not an option.

  1. 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.

    1. Well I’ve tried to oil stuff n I have 2 dogs n 2 cats I’ve got ride of my nice dog house n my one outdoor shed n all the wood piles n trimmed my hedges n I take the bird feeder in every nite. I hate to kill anything I rather them just move but it’s getting rediculous went from 3 to 15 in just a few months. I’d like to just trap them n release them in the woods but the only trap n release I’ve found is for mice n my rats are too big. I can’t leave poison out because of my animals n grandson n birds n squirrels n I don’t want them dying in a place I can’t reach n can’t to traps cuz the animal n that includes the sticky traps too. I don’t know what to do anymore. I think they are wearing the mint for their perfume lol my dog was able to catch one n it ended up dying a slow death horrible. I got a fake snake n put it out side I’ve tried everything I’ve even taken food n put it 2 houses down by sewer

    2. I have a pitbull and she killed two rats so far but they live up under her dog house and I’m afraid she will get bit and get rabies or she will it one and die so what do I do

      1. I have a pitbull and she killed two rats so far but they live up under her dog house and I’m afraid she will get bit and get rabies or she will it one and die so what do I do my yard is clean there in her dog kennel under her dog house it’s a big family of rats what can I do without hurting or making my dog sick or die please please

        1. Bring your dog into the house sir & do not feed her outside of course.I suggest that you make sure that your dog is going to be fine by take your dog to her veterinarian.Gether blood work done & make sure that your precious girl has all her necessary vaccines by discussing the rat situation with the veterinarian.Take care.

  2.  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

    1. I agree!! We have several dogs and an even larger rat problem!! Our yard is clean and even our chickens food is brought in at night, secured our garbage and still we see MANY of them running thru our yard!! Trying the moth ball thing and the lavender and mint planting…….NEXT step if that does not work is MOVING!!

    2. Mountain Lion urine.

      And if even that doesnt work

      Spread alot of food in the yard and wait quietly on your roof with a shotgun 🙂

      I am not a big fan of humane solutions for vermin. While i made a joke of the shotgun it IS an option. you can use rocksalt instead of buckshot … assuming you are living in the country

      If you dont have pets then definitely use the most virulent poison you can buy. Total Kill is the only response to a rat problem

    3. I live in the city too.I think we city dwellers get rodents because in the city many buildings are empty & then they either get renovated or knocked down.Personally, in my lane which is just behind my yard there are restaurants which have huge garbage bins filled with old food.I actually started noticing mousy creatures right after they tore down an old garage/shed that was on someone else’s property.I bet that is where my mousy creatures came from.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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?

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Had only one dog that ever chased and killed rodents. She was better then the cat. Mice, rats, moles you name it and she was after it. If they went in a hole she dug them out with her nose and claws. Loved that dog. But I have never seen another like her except one that was actually trained to go get the rodents.

  6. After a severe rat infestation,traps,exterminators,bait stations, all my garage stuff in locked bins,ridding all food,junk,etc I learned a method of setting up 5 gallon buckets,pouring water in,putting sunflower seeds on top,they float,devicing a ramp to the edge of the bucket,they jump in and drown inside the bucket.I still have to deal with ridding them,yuk,but with traps or bait ,they eat each other in the traps,or racoons get them,and the poison leaves them rotting somewhere,my dog found one in the yard.Ive not found a better method,was worried about squirrils drowning, but they dont go in.So far its the most effective way of killing them,not as humane as a snap trap but the traps werent working and the baited traps have been empty,despite evidence that they are still around.I hear them at night.Its a terrible problem.good luck

    1. I tried the bucket thing and the buckets have been out there for 3 days and we haven’t seen any rats in them yet so I am thinking that doesn’t really work

    2. This works well!!! I used a board for the ramp, resting on a folded piece of cardboard (long enough to reach the middle of the bucket) with piece of bait at the very end. It’s like walking the plank .. once they get onto the cardboard it bends and they slide into the bucket

  7. I also sealed all holes in the house,its an old house,there were many. put wire mesh around the entire back deck they lived under,poured ammonia on the deck and thru the cracks of the deck,scrubbed my garage with ammonia and put everything in locked plastic bins,planted mint around the foundation,removed bird food which attracts them,kept the snap traps and bait stations which worked at first but they apparently have outsmarted them,and at night I listen for noises,you can hear them chewing thewood.Im sorry it has to be war,a few mint sprigs, a dog and a cat,are not enough,and cedar oils,may help deter but once there is a severe infestation they keep breeding and you have a nightmare in your house and yard.Also leave enough room at the top of the buckets so they cant climb out,they love sunflower seeds and jump right in as it appears the bucket is full of seeds.Ive been dealing with this for months,almost 5,so it takes an arsenal and commitment.

    1. Try hunting them at night with light load 22 rifle with scope/silencer? Infrared goggles let you get the drop on them. Took three nights a week for a month, but we just blew up the last n with an improvised gas grenade. WARNING WHEN YOU GET YOUR INFRARED GOGGLES YOU WILL BE SHOCKED at the number of rats you will find its 3 to 5 times worse than you thought

  8. Reading the responses below, have you tried pyramids and crystal yet? This article is written by someone who does not know much about rats and getting rid of them. Dogs, even good mousing dogs will not keep rats away. Mint, you try mint I want to get rid of the rats thank you. Seriously, if you have rats get after them, don’t try mint or dog pee or whatever, get after the rats and change the habitat as much as possible. I use traps and poison in areas that my dog who was a great mouser can’t get at. She caught 100 mice that I saw over the years, but none in my yard. She is old now and I really do not want her bit by a rat or to have her eat a poisoned rat. My dad had a game
    farm 35,000 ducks and pheasants with tons of spilled feed and meat processing.

    We had lots of rats, “like more than your worse nightmare”, mice, bull snakes, an army of feral cats, and still had lots of rodents. When it got really bad we filled many of the rats holes, poured in water then diesel fuel and burned them out, (this was in the 60’s might not do that now) with 15 kids with shovels and hoes, plus adults with shotguns, let’s say the rat population dropped. We also fumigated their holes using a cars exhaust, and poison gas bombs from the farmers coop. For around my house, the old fashion victors rat trap (use plastic gloves so you don’t leave your scent on the trap) are getting a few, deacon for bait shy rats, the poison is slow acting with no effect till to late, plaster paris and grains or peanut butter also works on more innocent rats and all mice, and some one time feeding poison, which can make rats bait shy. My problem is I have outbuildings and two porches that are inaccessible and have a space under them so I have a good “built in” rodent habitat. If you think you have rats act now, be aggressive (like set a dozen traps safely so kids, dogs and cats can’t get hurt) and get rid of them. Hint put a heavy board against a wall rats feel safe, dogs cats can’t get at the trap, everyone wins. If you can’t stand the thought of hurting a rat live with them till they bite you, and eventually they will. Change any habitat that is good for rodent’s as much as possible, figure out where they are getting water and food, and remove it.

  9. We just “inherited” one under my garden bed. The pest isn’t afraid of me or the dog !!! Hell it started following me around the yard like a puppy !!! Of course I screamed, threw a rock and it just sat up and stared at me ! Then came over sn sat there.

  10. hi guys. Got a question. How long does the dad usually stick around after the litter is born. I noticed holes in my garden one day, put traps out and got 1 big sucker. Last night I got 2 babies. Just wondering if there is another big sucker in the lair they have built under my garden. They are so gross.

  11. Omg. .. My neighbor has a 5 ft.pool that has not been emptied for 3 years dirty water weeds growing every where weeds are even growing on to my house . now there are rats in his yard big Rats this rat is as long as from my fingers to my elbow and fat with a very long tail. It walked throw my yard . down to my pool in the day lite. Now if I’m rite that means its over populated. And Rats don’t come out in day lite . and yes its a Rat not a possum. I told him about it and the baby’s .but his reply YEAH I NO…. Help what the hell in ready to blow a hole in the pool. I have two pittbulls. And they are barking at his yard at all times I have grandkids that swim at my place and I don’t try to let my dogs out much Cruz in afraid they will get bite by something in his pool . it stinks and is green I told cide office but they have not even done a damn thing . In a clean person and if it was me .u could bet ur bottom dollar I would get sited for it . I cat even sit on my back pourch pool is rite there and my diningroom window can’t even see day lite his weeds are grown all over the side of my house yes over my fence and attached to my house .what can be done about all this ? Anyone PLz help.

  12. Some of you people on here are very creepy.Advocating DROWNING,KILLLING, HUNTING mousy creatures.They are just trying to survive so can’t you rid them as a human being should – humanely?Capture & relocate.Then find & close all your holes & be vigilant about leaving poops, pet food, fruity plants, vegetation, etc., etc.Please stop being creepy & do things humanely.

  13. I will carch them and relocate them to your house where they will be safe. Now lets get serious. If it were your grand child playing out there matbe you would feel differently. You can catch all you want. Where are you goung to dump them. If you take them out to the country they could get dumped and starve to death. There is not a humane way that works. Deterents are great if you don’t already have rats. Once they are there then you need to get serious. Like others say anything is fair game.

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