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The Grim Reason UK Gardeners Should Water Their Compost Heap

<span class="copyright">Dmitrii Marchenko via Getty Images</span>
Dmitrii Marchenko via Getty Images

The work of a gardener is not always easy; and when it comes to deterring ever-present pests, it can sometimes feel impossible. 

Such is the case with rats, who like to take advantage of everything from your garden’s water supply to spilled birdseed. 

“The first thing you need to know about rats is that they like warm, quiet, safe spaces to live,” Waste Less Yorkshire says.

“Compost heaps and bins can reach 40°C, a vital part of the composting process, making them a cozy spot for things like rats,” they add. 

Oh, good ― apparently, one of the best things we can do for our gardens is attracting unwanted guests to it.


What can we do about it? 

Thankfully, we don’t have to lie back and accept our fate ― in fact, gardeners can repel rats with a simple sprinkling of water. 

BBC Gardener’s World says that “watering the heap regularly can... deter [rats]” as the creatures dislike moisture. 

Other tricks to keep the pests out of your rotting waste heap include turning it regularly, lining its base with chicken wire, and keeping wood waste out of your heap ― or at least heavily diluting them with green and brown waste. 

You should also “Disturb your bin,” East Sussex County Council advises.

“Give it a bang or rattle every time you pass it. Rats might not be so keen on hanging around if there is activity around the bin.”

What if the rats won’t go away?

If you’ve taken all the steps you can to banish the beasts from your compost heap, the Royal Horticultural Society says you need not call pest control yet. 

“Discourage rats by removing any accessible food sources, for example by making sure bins are sealed,” they suggest. 

“When feeding wildlife such as birds, do not let access food build up (this will also help reduce the risk of spreading wildlife diseases). Removing clutter will reduce hiding and nesting places for these animals.” 

If you’ve just noticed a rat issue round your compost bin, however, a simple dash of H20 can go far.

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