Quick and easy ways on protecting your decking from pests
Guest contribution from John Hannen at Mediaworks
We all love to spend time in our gardens, whether we’re watering our plants or enjoying a get-together with friends. However, as you may have noticed, our garden spaces are susceptible to becoming homes to unwanted creatures. Did you know that more than 100 rodent complaints are made every day in London? 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.
Want some advice for pest-proofing your garden and decking areas? Whether your main concern is woodworm or you’re worried about rodents, check out our tips for safeguarding your decking from pests.
Building a barrier
The first step is to head into your garden and survey it — are there any sheltered areas that pests could use as a home? If so, act quickly. Pests won’t be able to make a new nest 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.
Finding shelter is a priority for unwanted critters, so making sure that you make your garden as uninhabitable as possible can make all the difference! Trim hedges and bushes surrounding your decking as far back as possible to decrease the range of shelter for potential pests, and make sure any grassy areas are cut regularly. 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.
Under your decking looks like a wonderful place for a family of mice or rats to set up home. To stop rodents getting under your decking, use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge 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.
Sealing off your vulnerable wood areas
Certain materials, like composite decking boards, don’t rot, so won’t suffer from an infestation of woodworm. However, other wood will and you should be prepared. 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.
Making sure your wood is dry is critical to preventing woodworm. This might be difficult for large areas like your decking, but your tables and chairs should be relatively safe under a waterproof cover. Try sealing your wood with varnish to create a barrier that prevents female wood-boring beetles from laying eggs in the pores of the wood.
Sometimes, we act too late and have to rectify an infestation rather than stop it. 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.
A simple but effective way to handle a pest problem is using non-lethal traps or scent repellent traps. Rodents detest the smell of garlic, peppermint and hot spices. So, use this knowledge to your advantage! 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.
Many people don’t want to use lethal traps, regardless of how much of a headache their pest problem is causing. Don’t worry, there’s a solution. Online, you can find plenty of humane, non-lethal traps that are just as efficient at dealing with your infestation problem. But forget using cheese to lure rodents — sweet treats work best to attract 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.
Making your garden less inviting to unwanted guests
Essentially, pests — such as rats and mice — are looking for food and a home. Since we’ve covered blocking off the underside of your decking, we’ll now take a look at how to make sure you aren’t inadvertently giving pests a food supply.
If you regularly eat lunch, play with the kids or host parties outside in your garden, there’s a chance there could be leftover food that will be appetizing to a rodent. So, 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. Make sure rubbish and refuse bags are tied tightly and placed inside a bin with the lid shut, too. 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.
Don’t let a pest invasion ruin the time you like to spend in your garden. Follow these tips to prevent an unwanted invasion this spring and summer!