How to Keep Rodents Off Your Deck or Porch

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated August 5, 2021
Modern backyard deck
Photo: Coralimages / Adobe Stock

When it comes to keeping rodents off your deck or porch, an ounce of prevention is worth 100 pounds of cure

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If you don't have rodents under your porch or deck yet, congrats! However, you still need a strategy to keep them out. If the pests have already taken up residence, you'll need to evict them first, and then take steps to turn your porch or deck into a rodent-free fortress. Thankfully, there are a few options to help you keep rodents of all kinds out from under your porch or deck.

1. Figure Out If You Already Have Unwelcome Guests

Look for signs of animal activity around the base of your porch—tracks, holes, waste, and other obvious signs of critter incursion.

Even if you don’t see any obvious signs, you should still conduct a mini reconnaissance mission. If there are holes or entryways beneath your deck or porch, clear away any debris, then sprinkle a little flour across the opening, Then, stand sticks fairly close together (but don't push them into the ground too far), or ball up a little newspaper and push it into the hole. Monitor for three days for any spot tracks or movement. If you find any, chances are you've got visitors, and it's time to evict them. If not, you can jump straight to making sure critters don't move in.

If this DIY approach doesn't suit you, call a local pest inspection expert who can assess your property, advise you on what pests you have, and provide your best options for tackling them.

2. Evicting Rodents From Under Your Porch

Ideally, we'd recommend using environmentally friendly rat control, not using poison to get rid of rodents under a deck or porch. Not because we think wild rats are cute and fluffy, but because if the rodents eat poison, there's a high chance they'll die under the porch (which then compounds the problem in ways we won’t get into).

Plus, of course, there's a high risk of inadvertently poisoning other harmless animals or even your pets or children. For this same reason, we also don't recommend using electric kill stations.

Instead, either trap and release them or work to make the area as inhospitable as possible so they'll leave of their own accord. You can also hire a local pest control service to take care of it for you.

If you opt for catch and release traps, place them where you can easily retrieve them and bait them with something rodent-approved, such as bacon. Check the traps daily so you can relocate any critters ASAP.

For those hoping to make rodents leave of their own volition, the first thing to do is clear the area around the porch or deck of all vegetation and debris. Rodents like dark, secluded, well-hidden spaces, so letting light into their previously dark den eliminates cozy hiding spots.

Next, remove as much debris from under the porch as you can. Sweeping out leaves, grass, loose dirt, and whatever else has worked its way under there over the years removes their comfortable, warm nesting materials. 

Latticed porch
Photo: Douglas Sacha/Moment/Getty Images

3. Dig and Screen

Once you’re 100% sure you have no under-porch squatters, it's time to make sure they can't get in. One of the most effective methods is to dig a trench and add a screen. Here’s how:

  • Dig a trench at least 1’ deep around any open areas of your porch or deck.

  • Install a fine-mesh screen such as hardware cloth or 0.25” wire mesh for an inexpensive, practical solution. Or, go fancy with lattice strips. You could even put fine mesh behind the lattice for double protection and an attractive finish.

  • Whatever mesh material you choose, bend the bottom 6” outwards so it's an L-shape. Make sure it sits in the bottom of the trench with the bent-out portion pointing out.

  • Ensure the top of the screen is flush with the porch so there are no gaps.

  • Secure the top to the underside of your structure using nails or garden staples.

  • Backfill the trench and press the soil down all the way around.

4. Make Your Yard Less Attractive

Relentless rodents may keep trying to take up residence if your yard offers easy food, hiding places, and nesting materials. Of course, you can't strip your yard bare, but some basic yard maintenance deters pests.

  • Keep grass, hedges, and other plants neat and well-trimmed, and pull up weeds to eliminate hiding places.

  • Keep your grill and deck clean. If you like to fire up the grill regularly, you’ll likely drop food and splatter grease, which is basically like ringing the dinner bell for hungry rodents. Clean up spills right away and hose down the deck at the end of the day when all the food and fun is over.

  • Make sure the lids fit tightly on your garbage cans.

  • Use rodent-proof bird feeders and move them well away from your porch.

If you’d rather sit on your deck or porch holding a drink with a tiny umbrella than spend your time taking care of the landscape around it, hire a local gardening service to tackle the day-to-day maintenance for you.

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