Skip to main content

Ways to minimize rats in your garden

May contain: person, human, garden, outdoors, jacket, coat, clothing, apparel, gardener, gardening, and worker

​It’s spring, and that means many people are starting their yearly process of planting their gardens. A garden can be a smorgasbord for rodents, attracting them from near and far. Some rodents may take a meal and move on, while others may decide to take up residence in and around your home. While it can be difficult to completely rid your garden of rats, there are ways to make it less inviting to them.

  • Rodents do not like to travel in broad daylight, so try to plant your garden away from established vegetation. If you are seeing rats during the day, this can be an indication of an infestation.
  • When using raised beds, place hardware on the bottom to make it more difficult for rats (and gophers) to tunnel up and eat the roots.
  • Compost bins should be completely sealed and kept as far from your vegetable garden as possible. Metal or thick plastic compost bins raised off the ground are ideal.
  • Harvest fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. Always pick up fallen fruit and nuts.
  • Rats need water. Remove all sources of unnecessary standing water.
  • Clean up animal feces, as this can be an attractant to rats.
  • Keep landscaping tidy. Remove tall grass and trim trees at least 4 feet away from structures.
  • Stack firewood at least 18 inches above ground and away from structures.
  • Do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • If you have chickens, feed them only as much as they can eat.


Birds are messy eaters and rats love it!

Bird feeders are one of the biggest attractants for rats. If you are experiencing a rat issue, we recommend removing bird feeders until you can gain control of the problem. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to discourage rats from gaining access to your bird feeder.

  • Install a bird feeder with a freestanding pole and baffle. The baffle (metal disc) will block animals from climbing and gaining access to the bird feeder.
  • If you already have a bird feeder in place, you can add a hanging dome baffle which will protect the feeder from rats climbing down from above.
  • Birds are messy eaters, so make sure to place your bird feeder on a surface that is easy to clean (such as concrete). Sweep up excess bird seed that has fallen on the ground every day.
  • Another option is to only feed birds as much as they can eat in one day to minimize the amount of food on the ground or left at night in the feeder.

The District provides free rodent inspections to residents of Marin and Sonoma counties. During these inspections, District staff attempt to locate rodent entry points to structures, detect sources of harborage, identify rodent species that are present, and provide recommendations on how to prevent and control rodents.

For more information regarding rodents and rodent control, visit

Join our mailing list