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How to successfully pest-proof your decking

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Everybody loves spending time in their garden during the summer — but when we neglect our outdoor spaces during the colder months, it could become the hibernation spot for those unwanted pests.

Our decking is lovely to look at, but the shelter beneath can become the main attraction to pests who are looking for a warmer, more stable location. In London, more than 100 rodent complaints are made every day. Although this doesn’t mean that you’re at risk, it’s worth making a few quick and simple preparations to stop potential pests from making your garden their homes.     

We’ve teamed up with Arbordeck, providers of composite decking boards, to bring you some top tips and tricks for keeping those rats and mice far from our gardens.

 

Appeal

Think like a pest — what would attract you to decking in a garden? Pests, such as rats and mice, will scout out places before deciding on where to settle down, so try and make your decking as uninhabitable as possible.

We’re all guilty of leaving leftover food outdoors, but it’s essential that you get out of the habit — this will attract all types of pests, so you must make sure that you dispose of it properly and ensure that your bin is tight shut. If you have a get-together on your decking, make sure you thoroughly clear up and clean the decking so that no sauces or dropped food remain which could entice rodents and other critters. Remember; rats, mice and hedgehogs will also eat birdfeed, so make sure to opt for a birdfeeder that isn’t placed on the floor or a table and put it away from your decking.

Hedges and long grass can provide shelter for pests, so you must keep on top of your garden maintenance. If your main pest problem is birds, movement is a great deterrent. Try hanging something that moves — like a wind chime or wind spinner — to help prevent birds from making a mess on your decking.  

 

Closing the gaps

After you’ve followed our previous guidelines, it’s probably best to block off your decking completely. Pests won’t be able to make a home under your decked areas if they can’t get in to begin with, so investing in extra materials to create a barrier is worth it.

Beneath a decking is the ideal living space for pests — shelter and warmth, they’ll never want to leave. To stop this happening, use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge of your decking between the boards and the ground. If you’re worried that this will ruin your decking’s aesthetic appeal, you can install a wooden trellis and have the mesh running behind it. Then, arrange potted plants or flowerbeds around your decking to mask the mesh further.

Remember that rats and mice can push themselves through gaps (as small as half an inch), so ensure your decked is sealed correctly.

 

Sealing

Woodworm love wood decking. Unless you have composite decking that doesn’t rot, you might want to take steps to prevent this particularly unpopular garden pest.

There are three kinds of woodworm in the UK. The common furniture beetle is usually what people mean when they say ‘woodworm’, but the house longhorn and deathwatch beetles are far more destructive — although thankfully rarer.

To prevent woodworm in your decking and outdoor furniture, try to keep the wood dry. This might be difficult for large areas like your decking, but your tables and chairs should be relatively safe under a waterproof cover. Sealing your wood with varnish is a good shout, too. This creates a barrier that prevents female wood-boring beetles from laying eggs in the pores of the wood.

Are you already a victim of infestation? If you can see small holes across your decking and furnishings — these are usually in a cluster and often about 1mm wide — there might be woodworm present. Although this is treatable, you first need to identify which type of woodworm is doing the damage, so it might be worth seeking professional advice. Common furniture beetle problems can be treated yourself using products that you can buy online. However, if the culprits are house longhorn or deathwatch beetles, you may need to treat by injection.

 

Capturing the culprits

Pests are cleverer than we think. If you already have pests in the garden and need help getting rid of them, you could consider using non-lethal traps or scent repellents.

It’s always worth knowing that rodents dislike the smell of hot spices, as well as peppermint and garlic. Plant a peppermint tree around the edges of your decking or sprinkle cayenne around potential entry points to deter vermin from nesting. Of course, there are also plenty of commercial rat and mice repellents you can buy that will work to keep pests at bay.

How about using non-lethal traps to capture those pests? But forget cheese; sweet treats work best to lure mice. Place these around your decking and make sure to release the rodent at least one mile from your home once caught. If you prefer, buy an ultrasonic pest repellent. Compact and discreet, these devices are ideal for placing by your decking and emit high-frequency sound waves that rodents can’t stand — and we can’t hear.

If you prepare in advance, ensuring that your garden space is pest-free is achievable!

Sources:

http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/15700482.Pest_authority_wants_greater_emphasis_on_tackling_rat_issues/

https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/08/messy-bird-droppings-ruffling-womans-feathers/

http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/woodworm.htm

https://dengarden.com/pest-control/5-Simple-Ways-to-get-rid-of-Mice-without-Killing-Them

https://www.rentokil.co.uk/blog/rodent-proof-decking/#.WkuPjN9l-Uk

https://www.westernpest.com/pest-control/tips/decks/

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