The yard is a haven and a sanctuary, especially in the warmer months. It’s where we relax and spend time with family and friends.  It’s where kids play and pets run.  Unfortunately, many of the enhancements that we bring to our properties are invitations for pests of all kinds.

Being a homeowner myself, it would be unrealistic for me to advocate the complete removal of all the things that otherwise enhance our quality of life.  However, the list below will hopefully help you make careful choices and maintain a balance between environmental aesthetic and pest prevention.

  • Yard Debris – Leaf piles, hedge trimmings and all other yard debris quickly attract rats, rodents and other wildlife that seek shelter.  They make for a nice “half-way” house to the even better warmth and comfort of our homes.  Make sure that debris is quickly cleared and stowed in sealed containers.
  • Logs, Tree Stumps – Firewood piles and decaying tree stumps make for great shelters and attract pests of all kinds. Make sure that firewood is kept as far from  your structure as possible.  Leaning it up against the house is just asking for trouble.  Tree stumps should be ground down if at all possible. As they decay, their hollow areas are great for building nests and their decaying roots invite carpenter ants and other wood chewing insects.
  • Fruit Trees – Nothing beats apples from your own backyard. That said, unharvested, decomposing apples and other fruit left on the ground represents an almost unlimited food supply for unwanted insects, rats, rodents and other pests. Harvest and use as much as you can yourself and more importantly, keep the ground clear of unwanted, rotting fruit.
  • Bird Baths and Feeders – Just remember that these water and food supplies are not selective to what they attract. If you are going to have them on your property, try to keep them as far from your structure as possible. While they may be great for birdwatching, they are also a leading culprit for pest problems.
  • Wheelbarrows – Wheelbarrows are great for yard work but when they are not in use, they should be left standing vertically, never upside down.
  • Barns and Tool Sheds – If you have an additional structure on your property, the same rules apply as for your main property.
  • Chicken Coops – Chicken Coops are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the Northwest. Unfortunately, where there are chickens, you can almost be sure there are rats. They also attract coyotes and other predators. From my own experience, the liabilities of chicken coops far outweigh the benefits. They almost always result in pest problems.  If you are going to have one, keep it as far away from your main structure as you can.
  • Vegetable Gardens – Telling people not to have vegetable gardens would surely draw fire.  So, that said, I will simply advise to keep them as far away from your structure as possible.  Also, keeping them properly contained will deter pests and protect your crops.

As stated above, balance and preventive maintenance are the keys to maintaining a beautiful AND pest-free environment. While total removal of pest attractors is not always possible, a little extra caution and wisdom can keep risks to a minimum.


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