Do you have field mice living in your yard? Chances are pretty good that you do. The field mouse is one of the most common mouse species found in our homes. The best way to get rid of field mice in the yard is to make your landscape as uncomfortable as possible for them.
Yard and garden vegetation areas are where the mice like to hide from predators, so cutting it back is your first line of defense. Keeping field mice out of your yard is one of the best ways to keep them from traveling the short distance to your house.
Top Ten Ways to Keep Field Mice Out of Your Yard
Here are some steps you can take to make your yard less friendly to mice and dissuade them away from your house.
1. Keep your Lawns Trimmed Neatly.
Tall grass makes a great hiding place for mice and makes it easy for them to run around your yard and feel completely safe. If you keep your grass mowed, they will not be able to disappear so easily. Crossing the yard will intimidate them, and they will be less likely to try it.
2. Clean up Compost Piles.
Compost is awesome for gardening, but it also makes an ideal habitat for mice. Contain your compost, and move your compost containers away from the side of the house. Locate them clear across the yard if you can.
The photo shown to the right is an example of a compost bin that is an open invitation for field mice and other small rodents. The wood is beginning to rot at the bottom allowing easy access for a family of rodents to enjoy a snack. They may even decide to nest in the shelter of the nearby bush.
Never provide easy access to food and shelter if you are trying to keep the mice out of your backyard. You may consider investing in a plastic compost tumbler which keeps the decaying material up off the ground where the mice are less likely to reach it.
3. Get Rid of Garden Waste.
If you have piles of tree or shrub clippings or cut grass, dispose of them. Do the same with dead leaves. Either compost them and contain them or throw them away. Either way, get them out of your yard where they are serving no purpose except to harbor rodents. If there are no places to hide it becomes much easier to get rid of the field mice in your yard.
4. Keep the Base of your House Clear.
Cut back bedding plants and move them away from your siding. While shrubberies look beautiful lining your house, you do not actually want them flush up against the side of your house.
If you can, try to clear at least a couple of feet of space around the entire perimeter. This area can be paved or filled in with rocks. Either way, keep it barren. Mice will not enjoy crossing it and this will help prevent field mice from entering your home. See how mice get inside your house for more prevention tips.
5. Relocate the Woodpile.
Have a woodpile? It is tempting to stack logs up against your house because it’s easy, but it is also easy for mice to conceal themselves there.
Your woodpile should be stored across your yard if at all possible. Consider storing it up against a garden shed if you need to place it against a wall. Wood should be stored on a lumber rack, which should be raised six inches or more off the ground.
6. Don’t Let your Yard Become a Used Car Lot.
Abandoned vehicles and discarded furniture and appliances are other hiding places for rodents. Take these items to the scrap heap to recycle or re-sell them if you are not going to use them.
7. Secure the Trash Containers.
First off, make sure the trash cans are not standing in the grass. Try to put them on concrete. A sturdy metal trash can with a secure lid generally does a good job keeping mice out. Rodents can chew through plastic, but some types are quite robust and can hold up pretty well to their repeated attacks.
You can even find trash cans designed specifically to keep out animals. These cans usually feature special latches and lid which are secured against larger animals and more than adequate to keep out smaller ones. Additionally, there are rodent-repellent trash bags you can place inside your trash bins for extra security.
8. Keep the Food Gardens at a Safe Distance.
Vegetable plots should be located away from your house. Veggies are tasty not just to you, but to your unwanted furry denizens. If vegetable plots are located right next to the house, that only encourages mice to find their way in. So keep your vegetable garden across the lawn.
9. Wrap the Bark of Trees.
Did you know the trees in your yard may be a source of food for the mice? Mice like to feed on the bark of young trees. Fruit trees are especially at risk. To prevent your freshly planted saplings from becoming a meal for field mice, OSU recommends wrapping the bark.
Wire mesh or a plastic collar can be used to protect the trees in your yard. Shrubbery, such as hostas or other vines should also be kept to a minimum around the base of your trees. This will help to discourage the field mice from hiding in your hosta plants. Mice do not like to be out in the open, so the goal is to make them feel as vulnerable as possible.
10. Store Birdseed in the Garage or House.
Pet owners should ensure that dog food, cat food, or bird seed is properly stowed away. Look for any loose food scattered around your yard, and pick it up. Move pet food and bird seed indoors, perhaps to your garage. Take the additional step of storing pet food bags inside a sealed, rodent-proof container. Feed your pets indoors. If you cannot do that, clean up after your pet right away after feeding.
Final Steps to a Rodent Free Yard
Once you have cleaned up your yard and cleared some space around the perimeter of your house, you can take a walk around it and search for weak points. That is a second way in which that cleared space ends up helping you out; you are now able to see along the base of your siding and search for holes. An opening as small as a pencil is all it takes for a field mouse to gain access to the inside of your house.
Check along the foundation, look at windows and doors, and pay close attention to pipes, spouts, and electrical wiring. Cover openings using wire mesh or sheet metal (make sure to leave proper ventilation where it is needed for air or water). Do not rely on caulk; mice can chew through it, and a lot faster than you might think.
Getting your yard rodent-proofed is a big project, especially if your lawn is currently overgrown or neglected. It is a lot less work however than trying to get rid of mice in your house! So make it a point this year to get out there while the weather is still warm, and tidy up. Come winter, you will be glad you did! The mice will stay outside where they belong, and you can enjoy a clean, rodent-free home.