Is your garden hiding an infestation?

Your garden is a potential breeding ground for dozens of insects, plants and mammals that have the potential to ruin your outdoor space.

Whether you’re a gardener with a vested interest in your vegetable patch, or your hoping to keep your lawn clean for summer, a brief look at your garden might not be enough to tell if you’re dealing with an infestation or not.

Here’s a quick rundown of the potential visitors that you could have in your garden:

Rats & Mice

Rodents seek shelter during the colder months and the first place they’ll look to hide in is your garden. Overgrown shrubs, piles of leaves and old sheds all provide opportunities for rodents to nest for the Winter. By staying vigilant and keeping your yard or garden clean you can reduce the chance of these rodents finding a home on your land.

If you happen to spot some tell-tale signs of rodent habitation (droppings, chewed up bin bags) then it’s time to give your back garden a tidy up and stop making it so attractive for those rats. Don’t forget that their next stop will be your house!

Aphids

These tiny little insects are every gardener’s nightmare. There are hundreds of species of aphid, each of which have their own unique tastes and breeding patterns, one particularly nasty species is the Black bean aphid. Unlike some if its cousins, the Black bean aphid is not picky at all when it comes to what it eats. You’ll find colonies of this black insect clustered together on the undersides of leaves.

Although many gardeners might balk at it, chemical treatment is the most effective treatment method. Insecticides containing pyrethrum, natural fatty acids and surfactant based products are all efficient control methods.

Japanese Knotweed

This pest might not raid your bins or eat your cabbage, but it could cost you thousands of pounds, should you let it get out of control. The law surrounding Japanese Knotweed is complicated, but it’s worth looking into, especially if you’ve spotted a few tell-tale bamboo-like shoots probing through the ground. During the Summer you’ll be able to discern the Knotweed by its shield-shaped leaves and quick growth rate.

If you spot some Knotweed on your land don’t ignore it. Should you let the plant spread into neighbouring land then you run the risk of a potential court case and a significant payout. Digging out the plant whilst it’s in its infancy can prove effective, but glysophate treatments tend to be the most effective in the long term.

Slugs and Snails

These slimy molluscs are an unfortunate by-product of owning a garden, but you shouldn’t surrender to them so easily, when there are plenty of natural methods of keeping their numbers down. Encouraging natural predators is a great way to bring more wildlife into your garden whilst keeping slugs and snails down. Attract birds by building bird-boxes and hanging fat balls for them to peck at, whilst they’re in your garden they’ll scout around for insects to snack on too!

Preventing Rats From Invading Your Home

Rats are opportunistic survivors who excel in finding weak spots in your home and tend to seek shelter from late-September onwards. It doesn’t matter if you live in the heart of an urban sprawl or in the middle of the countryside, if you don’t take the necessary precautions you will be at risk of an infestation that could be very costly to exterminate.

These prevention tips are designed to make your home inhospitable to rats, therefore turning them away and onto more attractive pastures:

Deny them their basic need: Food, Water and Shelter

When rats are looking for a new home, they are looking to fulfil three basic needs. They need water, food and a place to shelter from the elements and predators. If you fail to properly maintain your home then your house will become an attractive prospects to a family of rats. Puddles and leaks offer rats an easy drink, they only need between 15-60ml of water to survive each day, so don’t give them a free snifter!

Keep foodstuffs packed away

All your food stuffs (including pet food) should be kept tightly in metal or glass containers and off the ground. Your kitchen should be kept hygienic and clean of food debris. Rats can subsist off just a few crumbs, so leaving plates or takeaway cartons on the floor is akin to laying out a buffet for them! Sweep up, vacuum and keep your sides clean at all times.

Batten down the hatches!

It’s important to cut down the options for rats to shelter in your home. Older homes tend to offer a maze of gaps, holes and cavities for them to squeeze into. By sealing up any potential gaps (interior or exterior) you can cut down on their points of entry. Ideally you’ll be able to keep your furniture away from the wall, so that you can easily peek behind them.

They came from the garden!

All rats come from outside, they’ll only consider exploring your house if the area outside your house is already offering them a level of comfort. Keep your outside areas clear of debris, like leaves or bric-a-brac. If you create a pile of trash you’re pretty much offering them a free night’s stay. Secure your outdoor bins properly and keep a lid on your compost heap to deter them from coming any further.

Is it too late?

If you’re spotting rat droppings around your home (brown-black pellets the size of rice grains), or you’re noticing a strong smell of urine then there’s a good chance that your home has already been infested. Don’t despair if this is the case, you should still follow the above tips, but now you should consider buying traps and poison as well (depending on how aggressive you feel).