There are many reasons gardeners are looking for a good garden rodent repellent as rodents eat garden crops, poop everywhere, and will find little places to live and multiply.
As I’m a REAL gardener that real-life gardening problems (not just pretty rows of perfectly grown food) I always like to share the good and the bad of my gardening life.
What have I dealt with recently? Meadow Voles. It turns out they breed faster than rabbits and were happy to eat all of my greenhouse seedlings in ONE night.
That’s why I’m sharing Natural Ways to Repel Rodents from your Garden.
Natural Ways to Repel Rodents
My big mistake was also helping the rodents.
I made the mistake of MULCHING my beautifully weeded greenhouse which INVITED them to sleep in an extra cozy warm place with food. If one has an abundance of rodents mulching your garden only encourages them.
I wanted natural ways to deter rodents. I also didn’t want masses of dead voles all over my garden to deal with so when someone mentioned a certain product it caught my attention.
A solar-powered garden rodent repeller! At first, I was excited. I thought my problems were solved!
But after checking many of these products reviews and ratings on Amazon I felt defeated once again.
It sounded like this won’t be ‘enough’ to fix my meadow vole problem. I did keep searching though because I was told that some people have great success with these vibration units.
There are brands that have better ratings than others, this one had the best reviews.
It sounds like these repellers can sometimes HELP deter them but they don’t always work and shouldn’t be the only solution.
After doing some further reading I’ll be applying a few things to our greenhouse and about how to keep mice out of garden.
- Don’t mulch. While this makes me want to cry as I love mulching for weed control & to add organic matter to the soil, the mulch encourages them to nest and feel protected. I think the wood chip mulch would be ok as they can’t bury under it so I might mulch with wood chips back to Eden style.
- Keep an outside/barn cat around for the smaller rodents like mice. Our large dog actually hunts for meadow voles. Hurrah! Just make sure you de-worm your pets twice a year.
- Use deep raised beds with hardwired fencing underneath so that rodents can’t burrow upwards. Place a wired tunnel cover over the raised bed to deter rodents like rabbits. Black landscape fabric won’t work, they’ll chew through it.
Instructables shows you how to build rodent-proof garden beds.
You can also build a large rodent-proof garden.
I love this simple idea from Holtwood House
- Mint is a natural rodent repellent. Keep pots of it around your garden and inside the greenhouse. Scatter dried mint in the greenhouse, especially if you notice any openings they are coming in through. You can also use peppermint essential oils on cotton balls in the greenhouse and replace every two weeks.
- Use a few of the solar-powered rodent repellers (affiliate link) that emit powerful ultrasonic sound.
- Plant strong-smelling herbs around the outside edges of the garden. Creating a barrier of culinary and medicinal herbs is good because many rodents are put off by the strong smells.
- We use the Nooski mouse trap (affiliate link) as back up in the greenhouse. We choose not to use the snap traps because we have little kids and a barn cat around.
- Make sure any chicken feed or pet food isn’t easily accessible to mice and rodents.
- If you have larger rodents like rabbits make sure you have a strong fence that they cannot get through. Often it’s also the garden gate they can crawl under so you can create hoop tunnels over the beds with chicken wire netting over your crops.
- Although these aren’t for the rodents, we use Niteguards (affiliate link) to deter larger deer and keep one low to the ground to deter raccoons from our garden. You do have to keep moving them around so they don’t get used to them but they work great.
These are just a few natural garden rodent repellent ways you can use to keep your garden clean, safe, and pests-infestation free.
Do you have any further wisdom about how to keep rodents out of your garden?
33 thoughts on “Natural Rodent Repellent Ideas”
I’ve always had a lot of luck with using Irish Spring soap to repel rats and mice. I break the bars of soap into quarters and scatter them in the corners of our barn where they come in and it helps significantly. You can keep snakes out of your garden by using any kind of a hose or rope and line the outside perimeter of your garden all the way around full circle. For some reason when a snake comes in contact with it it won’t ever go up and over the rope, it will only mosey on alongside of it. That’s an old cowboy trick to keep safe at nite back when they camped out on the open range. Happy Gardening ?
I did hear something about Irish Spring soap years back! Thanks for the reminder 🙂
We like the garter snakes as they eat the mice and crickets around here, but deterring rodents in the greenhouse with that soap would be a good idea.
Happy gardening to you as well!
I’m not sure if I have a vole or a gopher but the sonic stick’s haven’t worked and I’m trying Juicy Fruit gum. Clear the hole with the end of hose, no water, as far down as you can, unwrap the gum but do not touch with fingers and slide it into the hole as far down as you can. I’m on my 5th package of gum in 2 was but as of this morning there are NO new signs of the little rascal!
I was inundated with voles- They only ate $35 plants + … I tried poison, mulch removal – then – I was given a kitten. The kitten is now a cat – & I was told he wouldn’t be effective because the females are the hunters- telling you – they are nearly gone. Plus- I quit composting kitchen scraps. For a while. Main thing that worked was raking up all the leaves under the 3 massive pin oaks by the compost pile, hungry, extremely good cat hunter & stopping the veg buffet. Last 2 weeks – I restarted the kitchen composting there… Kinna scared. I always bury it the 4′ pile – so… we’ll see. Plus – I read they love acorns which are a every other year deal. This was an off year. Appreciate your post.
You’re right about the compost, we had one bin close to the greenhouse and will be moving it into our new chicken run. We want to do more worm composting with a bin too, solves the problem as the voles can’t get into it.
That’s great your cat is so useful, ours is an old male cat that doesn’t always care about catching mice.
Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
I tried to compost in a plastic bin but they love the worms. So they nested through the downwards small opening of the bin and eventually had to drop composting!!! Only cats will save the situation!!! try not to feed them a lot so they ‘ll need to hunt them down!!
Oh that’s good to know they can still get into worm composters. Pesky critters!
My garden is fenced in with 8′ high posts covered with deer netting and also rabbit fencing that’s buried into the ground around the bottom. I would love to get a cat to help out with my vole problem, but wouldn’t he/she need to be inside my garden at night in order to catch the voles? I’ve been concerned that a cat would urinate on my plants or scratch up my plants so I haven’t gotten one. Do you leave your cat in your garden at night? I hate the mice in my barn, but I don’t think they’re causing the problem in my garden. Thanks!
Our cat is outside all the time, he’s now 16 though and is very lazy with the mice and voles. It’s actually our 110 dog that finds the nests and takes care of them for us! We have to make sure he’s not IN the garden. We actually made a chicken moat, so our chicken run goes around most of the garden because the meadow voles are so bad here. It’s helped a lot!
I agree with planting mint to deter the pesky critters too. But mint can overtake everything if it’s not weeded along with weeding your veggies. I is a very invasive plant that, although it has a minty air to it, can be a pest also.
You’re right DB, that’s why I suggested ‘pots of mint’ as if it’s in a container you won’t have that invasive problem 🙂
I have a huge mint bush that was a cozy condo for the mice! They don’t seem to be bothered by the smell of it at all! So far the mice and voles have eaten complete eggplant and pepper plants, parsley and basil plants, mellon plants and recently chewed up my zuchinni and cucumbers. Going to try the Irish spring and hope it works!
Oh that’s so good to know!! The meadow vole situation got a little worse since writing this post too so I wanted to update it. Let me know how the irish spring soap works, I worry about it getting all over the garden with watering or rain. I feel like we’ll end up making raised beds with landscape fabric and then gravel at the base of the beds (they chew through the fabric!!) instead of in the ground. This has been our first year dealing with them and at first the peppermint oil on cotton balls worked super well in the greenhouse but outside is a different story.
I know that some people might balk at this thought but it definitely worked. I had read about keeping ammonia soaked rags to deter them and although I tried one time it worked for a very short while until the ammonia went away. Then when it rained I would have to soak them again. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of the ammonia going directly into the ground. Then suddenly it hit me, what else smells immensely strong like ammonia? Used cat litter! So the next time I cleaned out the litter box I saved several day’s cleanings in double layered grocery bags. It still smelled very strongly of ammonia but didn’t soak into the ground! Plus, I could move it around easily if necessary and it didn’t wash away in the rain. It worked beautifully! So well in fact that it was well worth putting up with a little bit of smell when I worked in the garden.
That’s great that that worked! I know people use to (& some still do) fertilize with ammonia from human urine. I personally would avoid cat waste & litter because of toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic disease that can be passed to humans through cat fecal matter.
All the best, happy gardening!
I once lived in a house that had moles in the garden, a real bother as they dig up and leave mounds every where. I read that Jeyes fluid watered down and poured into the tunnels would chase them away. And I tried it and it worked. I think this will help.
We just found pocket gophers in our greenhouse. I’m wondering if you have an update on whether anything worked for the voles? Did you have any issues with them moving into the rest of your garden? I just heavily composted and mulched a lot of our outdoor beds, and I’m wondering if I need to take everything off…
Hi Breanne! We found a main pipe they were coming in and out of so we blocked off that and put fresh peppermint essential oil balls every couple of weeks. I stopped mulching too. *So far* that has worked although we did lose a few tomatoes this summer so they did get it (we left the doors open most of the time in the summer though because of the heat). Our outdoor garden had A LOT, large-scale control is really hard. We have a cat and dog who both go after the meadow voles but we lost a decent amount of crops. Next year we plan on building raised beds with hardwire fencing at the base so they can’t burrow under. We’ve heard that helps as they are more of an underground rodent, not a climber.
The mulch will likely be a warm and cozy place for them in the winter, although gophers tend to go deeper underground depending on the outdoor temps. We composted and mulched our garlic bed last fall and we saw no signs of rodents in there but I think it depends on your backyard/acreage concentration and if there’s anywhere else for them to go.
Sorry if this answer doesn’t help much, rodents are hard to deal with. I’ve been meaning to update this post but wanted to go a couple months into winter to find further solutions.
Try using onion_rats love it and it blows up their lungs?? really works. Plus,if necessary, use”rat candy”(poison) put into rat runs- they take it back to the nest,everybody parties and dies. Can’t argue with that
Our dog eats the meadow voles so no poison on our homestead, we also have a cat so can’t risk it. I’ve never heard of onions..I’ll google that
Onions are lethal to dogs so be very cautious about how you use them.
Very good point! Thank you for bringing that up
I can argue with the rat poison. Often the sick rats are eaten by owls who in turn are eaten by coyotes or cougars. You end up killing 3 animals from the poison.
Wormwood plant is the solution , all others are fake.
The rodents ate the mint, used the mint soaked cotton balls for bedding and then laughed at me. Ok so I don’t know if they laughed at me but living in an area that is heaven to pests I have learned a few things. Mint is food and they are looking for food. Onions are not food rodents hate onions! Plant a tight boarder of onions and unless they are desperate they will leave your garden alone.
HI everyone. Some interesting, drastic, subtle, ingenious ways you’ve shared. I’ve had numerous problems in diferent gardens/plots of land. I’ve tried the best-rated solar panel sonar – didn’t work, they nested right next to one! I flooded-out the nests, put a hose down the holes and blocked the others; its a temporary solution. There are not enough birds of prey around, they don’t take enough of them. I’ve tried mint – not effective. So…. now I’m on GARLIC! This week I’ve stuffed the holes with full bulbs, each tooth halved. Immediate result – they opened-up new tunnels to get away from it. Apparently, they hate the smell, rather like onion, and move on. You’ve got to keep checking and plugging. I’m going to try a combi of sliced onion and garlic next, in my mulch which is for my garden essential, and will grow it everywhere – all veg should like it as a neighbout anyway. Thanks for the tips and info. Happy gardening
What a fantastic idea!! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. I planted garlic and onions all over the greenhouse to deter but somehow never thought about adding cloves into the holes. I imagine you’d have to re-apply every couple of weeks, but I love that idea.
Happy gardening 🙂
MY town is besieged by rats with being on the waterfront and tons of construction happening. I’ve tried snap traps but that doesn’t deter more from coming by. We have poison bate stations, but they still come. We have kids and a dog so i’m Very careful with where and what I put out. I’ve wanted to put some big potted plants out so would this be a good thing to do with onions since mint seems to just be another food source? I think i’ll Try some Irish spring shavings as well. I’m mostly trying to keep them away from a pool/paving stone patio back yard so there’s no ground to plant in.
I’m so sorry Colleen that sounds terrible to deal with! *so far* our tips have been working with our meadow voles, but but having that many rats sounds very challenging. I know this is weird but our dog loves to catch ant eat (yuck) rodents. I’ve heard of ‘the magic box’ where you set up a trap inside a wooden box with one entrance, but you have to change the trap every time there’s a kill but it’s better when kids are around. Mint seems to be a fresh scent only, I’ve had luck with peppermint oil but not grown mint. You might be able to find out where they are ‘nesting’ and try to destroy their home and potential nesting areas.. We had to unfortunately reduce certain types of garden mulches for that reason, we were inviting them too much. Best of luck with everything
Thanks team for the ideals, i was using rat poison for the mice, but the peppermint oil is a good ideal and the mint brush. i start using the wood much as i find that work better for me. Thanks again
Our plan is to use wood chips mulch in the greenhouse next year, out of all the mulch it seems to help the most with rodents not burying underneath. 🙂
Hello to all…. I read castor oil is good. So I figured that if I use the plant it should work. We have 3 acres and they have eaten some of our plants. So I went around our neighborhood and collected castor plant seeds…. as many as I could. Then came home and crushed them. They have this white substance inside. I then took the crushed seeds and dropped them inside the holes the voles had dug. I noticed there are no new holes. This was a month ago and now we have some new castor plants popping out too!!! 🙂 So I have done the same for the rest of the holes now…. I have read that if you have some castor plants in your yard the voles will not come around…. So now I want to plant some of the seeds I collected too… I hope they don’t come back
Plant onions, caper spurge, castor beans as your perimeter. Plant marigolds everywhere in between and keep harvesting the seeds for more. Snap traps though gross are the best method to kill off populations and not poison other animals. Cover the trap with a wire crate or something to keep out your pets. I have chickens that free range and they seem to eat many of the things rodents want BUT keep food in metal bins and DO not leave any feed out overnight. Same for other pets do not leave food uneaten in bowls.