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Wood flooring in a green plant garden decorative

Rats!

I want to talk with you today about one of the sexiest topics I know about. (Irony is dripping off me like a waterfall.)

Rats.

In 2020, Chicago held the title of the rattiest city in the US for the 6th straight year. (I mean if that’s not the ultimate title, add to it that in 2021 Chicago made it to the number one spot for bed bugs too!)

So, friends, suffice it to say rats are here and in your yards and in our yard. Just ask Craig about the nest in his sweet potato bed a few years ago.

Okay then . . . what can we do about them because we want you to live beautifully outdoors?

The name of the game is to make your yard inhospitable. If anyone promises an 100% guarantee that they can keep rats out of your yard, they’re lying, particularly if you live near restaurants. But don’t be dismayed, there a few things that can be done to help.

  1. Make sure you have a clean and tidy yard. Not only because this looks better, but because you will have a better chance of seeing any holes underground or in raised planters. These guys like to burrow. And holes can be filled!
  2. Keep your trash can lids closed, especially if your bags are filled with food. Rats are master dumpster divers.
  3. Dog poop. Seems the jury is still out on this urban myth. According to Steve Dale, pet expert, he says that “Steve Sullivan, senior curator of Urban Ecology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum… [has] never seen a peer reviewed study to confirm that rats relish dog feces.” But either way, just pick up your dog’s poop. Right?
  4. Rats have a hard time finding consistent water sources. So if you have a water feature like a pond at grade or lower (i.e., same height or lower than your soil line), you will attract rats especially if it is not properly maintained. Instead make sure the basin of water has an edge and sits above grade. Or even better use a water feature that has a covered basin that can be installed below or above grade. Consistent cleaning and monitoring are key!
  5. Install an underground barrier deterrent. And this is where we come in.

Underground barriers work like this:

  • Along a fence or a foundation, we will excavate down 18″ – 24″, install galvanized ¼” wire mesh (hardware cloth), back fill the trench with lava rock, and cover with soil.

Like I said there are no guaranteed solutions, these steps can definitely make living beautifully outdoors in Chicago a fact and reality.

Sara “there’s always a solution” J-S

P.S. I’ve provided you with free plans to see exactly what a below-grade rat barrier is and what it looks like. (I know . . . I told you . . . real sexy.)

P.S.S. To our friends who don’t live in Chicago, please don’t be grossed out and not come visit. While we may have these two titles, we’re actually quite clean and beautiful. Pinky swear.

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