Four composting ‘mistakes’ which invites rats into the garden

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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Composting is a great way of discarding kitchen and garden matter, and it has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, no matter how big or small the compost heap is, it may get taken over by rodents. According to experts, this is down to certain mistakes people are making.

Matt Jordan, gardening expert for The Greenhouse People, said: “With its ample supply of food and nesting materials, a compost heap in your garden is the ideal spot for rats, especially during winter.

“But don’t let rodents deter you from creating a compost heap. Not only are they a great way of discarding kitchen and garden matter, but they can be incredibly beneficial once added to your garden.

“Here are some mistakes you might be making in your compost heap that is inviting rats into your garden.”

1. Getting the wrong ratio of greens and browns

Compost heaps should be made up of both green and brown material, which includes things such as food scraps and dry leaves.

“Be sure to layer brown materials over the greens to promote faster decomposition and reduce the odour of food, which will attract pests.”

2. Using too much water

A soggy compost heap may attract rats for many reasons, according to the gardening expert.

He said: “Firstly, too much water can cause the compost to become anaerobic, which means there is not enough oxygen in the soil. Anaerobic compost heaps often have a foul smell, which attracts rats.”

A lot of water in the compost also slows down the decomposition process which means food scraps are likely to sit around for much longer, attracting rodents.

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Matt added: “While there is no exact rule for how much water to add to a compost heap, it’s generally best to feel it out.

“The compost should be damp to the touch but not soggy. If you squeeze a handful of compost, there should be some water drops but not dripping wet.”

3. Not covering a compost heap

One of the easiest ways to stop rats nesting in your compost heap is to ensure they can’t access it. This will help to prevent odours circulating, which is attractive to them.

There are many types of coverings you can use, but the best option may depend on the weather. Matt said: “If it’s very wet, then a tarp is an ideal protective cover.

“This will prevent the compost from becoming too soggy. Mesh or wire fencing can also be used to keep out bigger pests like rats while allowing for airflow and moisture.

“It’s important to note that the cover should be removed when adding new materials to the heap and when turning the heap, to allow air circulation and prevent odours.”

4. Forgetting to turn the pile

Regularly aerating the compost heap is great for the compost and can also help to “deter rats”. According to the experts, the rodents are often shy creatures.

This means they seek out spots where they can be undisturbed to make a nest. The expert continued: “However, a pile that is regularly disturbed will be avoided by rats.

“Regularly turning your compost heap will also ensure that all materials have the chance to break down properly. A partially decomposed layer of material on the top of the heap can attract rats.”

5. Keeping compost too close to your house

Due to the nature of compost, it can naturally attract pests and insects, so it is always best to keep the heap as far away from your home as possible.

If located close to your home, rats may enter your property to look for food and water. It can also provide a source of drinking water for other pests too.

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