Field mice can really mess up your lawn. First, no one wants to see mice skittering around under their bare feet as they enjoy your luscious green turf. Second, these rodents can ruin your lawn with their holes. Third, if you have a nearby garden, these field mice can eat your veggies and contaminate your food. Finally, rodents living in your lawn—especially mice and rats—may not be content to stay there. A backyard infestation can very quickly become a home infestation, and no one wants that! So how do you keep rodents out of your lawn? We’re glad you asked!
Top Ten Tips Get Rid of Field Mice in Your Lawn
1. Keep Your Backyard Trimmed
Mice don’t like to be out in the open. It leaves them vulnerable to predators such as foxes and birds of prey. So as much as possible, they sneak around in bushes, tall grass, and anything else they can use as cover.
To get rid of field mice, or to keep them out of your lawn in the first place, keep things neatly trimmed. You want field mice to feel as uncomfortable as possible in your backyard and on your lawn. Removing their cover is one way to do that. If your grass is mowed short—we recommend one-half to two inches for TifTuf Bermudagrass—mice have nowhere to hide. Without the ability to hide in tall grass, mice are very unlikely to try crossing your yard.
2. Don’t Let Yard Waste Pile Up
This goes back to mice’s propensity to seek cover whenever possible. Yard waste, even more than tall grass, is a great hiding place for mice. Piles of yard waste that sit for a long time can also provide the warmth and shelter mice need for a nest. So keeping yard waste out of your backyard is a great way to keep field mice out of your lawn.
3. Clean Up Your Compost Pile
Composting is a great way to reduce your landfill contribution and produce excellent organic fertilizer for your lawn. But a poorly maintained compost pile can also be a haven for field mice. In addition to providing cover and shelter for fearful field mice, a compost pile can become a food source. Scraps of food left to decompose make easy picking for a hungry mouse.
So if you plan on composting, forget that open compost heap. Instead, invest in a heavy-duty plastic compost tumbler. A compost tumbler raises your compost of the ground and encloses it in a protective, rodent-proof chamber. It can also decrease the time it takes to create beautiful, rich fertilizer for your lawn.
4. Don’t Keep a Woodpile Near Your House
A wood-burning fireplace is a warm and cozy addition to any home. Of course, to keep that fire going, you’ll need a well-stocked woodpile. It’s often tempting to lean that pile up against the exterior of your home. It makes stacking easier and keeps the wood within easy reach. But a woodpile is a warm and protected home for a field mouse, and that’s the last thing you want next to your home.
Instead, move your woodpile at least twenty feet from your house, if you have the room. Otherwise, just move it as far as you can. And if you need the added support of a wall, try piling up your wood against a shed or another outdoor building.
5. Keep the Perimeter of Your Home Clear
It’s not just a woodpile that can provide a home for field mice. Bushes and other landscaping are also premium hiding spots for mice. We know that the idea of a beautiful hedge right up against your house is appealing. But it’s best to keep that hedge at least two feet from your foundation and exterior walls. That two-foot gap should be pavement, gravel, or some other material where nothing will grow. Even that small clearing will make mice less likely to move from your lawn to your home.
6. Don’t Let Trash Pile Up
While we’re on the topic of shelter for mice, let’s talk about trash. If you’re serious about your lawn, you probably keep your yard free of extra debris. But even with the best of intention, sometimes loose items can start to pile up. Whether it’s old play equipment and patio furniture or overflow pool supplies, even tidy lawn enthusiasts can sometimes collect junk. So if keeping your backyard beautiful isn’t enough motivation, here’s another reason to clear out all that extra stuff. Junk can become a home to field mice. And even if the debris around your yard isn’t suitable as a home, it can definitely provide cover that makes field mice feel bolder about scurrying across your lawn. So clear out those unnecessary items and remove yet another field mouse hiding spot.
7. Keep Your Trash Bins Secure from Rodents
An open compost pile is an inviting feast for a field mouse. But even if you don’t have a compost heap lying around, we all have trash bins. If your trash isn’t secured from rodents, you could be leaving out a steady flow of food for field mice. The worst thing you can do is leave trash bags outside. Mice can smell bagged trash, and they can easily gnaw through the plastic to get at the food waste inside. Other small animals like squirrels, and some larger ones like possums and raccoons, may also feast on your garbage. So make sure to keep all trash inside designated, heavy-duty bins.
Standard municipal trash bins are usually sufficient to keep out small rodents. Just make sure there are no holes where a mouse could get in. Remember, a mouse can squeeze through a hole no larger than a dime. So look for even very small holes. And if you find a hole in your bin that could let in a mouse, just contact your trash collection service. They can usually provide you with a replacement bin at no extra cost.
If you find that larger, stronger rodents are getting into your trash—like raccoons—you may need to use a trash bin specially built to keep animals out. These bins have latches to hold the cover down and may even be built in a way that only human-shaped hands can get them open.
8. Keep Bird Seed and Pet Food Indoors
If you’re feeding the birds or your pets, you are feeding field mice, too. Field mice are versatile omnivores, and they can eat a wide variety of foods. They love seeds and veggies, but they can also eat pet food and many types of trash. So if you are feeding the birds, make sure that your bird feeder is inaccessible to mice. The best way to do that is to hang the feeder on a metal pole. A bird feeder that hangs on a tree or off of your eaves is easy pickings for a field mouse. They are pretty good climbers. But even a field mouse can’t climb a metal pole. So keep that birdseed out of reach of the rodents you don’t want to feed.
Pet food is another goldmine for field mice. They will eat anything that is left out. So if you must feed your pets outdoors—and we suggest you don’t—be tidy. Let your pet eat, then take in the bowl as soon as they are done. And make sure to clean up any spills that your pet missed.
9. Don’t Plant Vegetables Too Close to Your House
Vegetable gardens are a rich source of food for field mice. Farmers have been battling these pests for nearly as long as there have been farmers and field mice. So keeping them out of your garden will definitely be a challenge. If you follow the other tips we’ve mentioned, you can at least make your yard less welcoming to these rodents. Hopefully, that will keep them away. But avoid planting your food garden too near your house. If mice do end up munching on your veggies, you don’t want them congregating right by your house. Your house is a great source of warmth and shelter, and you don’t want the mice getting any ideas.
10. Wrap Young Trees
It may come as a surprise to many, but field mice actually love to eat tree bark. They specifically prefer the soft bark of young trees. So if you’ve got some saplings in your yard, don’t let them become mouse food. Instead, protect them with a wrapping of metal mesh or even solid plastic sheeting. That will keep mice out and let your sapling grow undisturbed.
Maintaining a Strong, Healthy Yard Free of Field Mice
Keeping your yard mouse-free is crucial, but for a strong, healthy lawn, you need to start with the right turf. If you find your grass is patchy or not growing well, it may be time to choose a different sod. TifTuf Bermudagrass is perfect for the warm climate of the Southeast and will keep your grass thick and green all season long. Learn more about the science behind Tif Tuf here.