Matt Jordan, gardening expert for The Greenhouse People, has shared some “mistakes” you could be making with your compost, attracting rats into the garden.
1. Getting the wrong ratio of greens and browns
The expert explained: “Getting the ratio of greens and browns right in your compost heap can be tricky for any gardener. Paying attention to the layering will help ensure your compost is nutrient-rich without inviting pests into your garden.
“A ratio of four parts ‘browns’ to one part ‘greens’ is typically considered to be the best option for a compost heap. The greens include nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags, while browns are high in carbon i.e. dry leaves, paper, branches and pine needles.
“Adding too many greens, typically food scraps will draw attention to rats searching for food. 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
According to the expert, a soggy compost heap may attract rats for many reasons including the compost turning anaerobic, meaning there is not enough oxygen in the soil.
This can often result in the compost having a “foul” smell, which attracts rodents to it. Too much water can also slow down the decomposition process which means food scraps are likely to sit around for much longer.
The expert noted: “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
Matt continued: “Of course, one of the easiest ways to prevent rats from creating a nest in your compost heap is by ensuring that they can’t access it.
“An uncovered compost heap will emit odours that will be especially attractive to rats looking for food. The type of covering you use for your compost container may depend on the weather. 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
A regular rotation is not only great for the compost heap, but it can also help to deter rats because you will disturb their nest.
It will also make sure all the materials have a chance to break down properly.
5. Keeping compost too close to your home
Compost heaps naturally draw attention from pests and insects, so it is always a good idea to keep the compost heap as far away from the home as possible.
If it is located too close to your house, then rats may look for food and water in the home too.