It’s not a nice sight to see mice running around your yard, and unless you have a couple of scary cats, it’ll be hard to get rid of them. The best thing you can do is to make the property as unappealing as you can to the mice.
Luckily, nature always has its ways! Like insects and some animals, mice get repelled by some plants. So, getting rid of your rodent problem is as easy as growing some plants in your garden.
You’d have to be wise when choosing their locations. Typically, planting them where mice usually sneak in is the best option, but you can also plant them close to the house if you’re afraid they’ll get inside.
Here’s a roundup of plants that repel mice:
1 – Onions and Garlic
Though they’re different plants, onions and garlic have the same effect on mice and can be grown in the same conditions. They’re both grown from bulbs (also known as sets) and need a space with full sunlight and well-draining soil.
For garlic, it’s best to plant your sets first thing in the spring, leaving about 4 to 6 inches between each clove. The pointed end should be facing up, and it should be two inches deep into the soil.
After several months, you’ll see the leaves turn brown and die back, which is your cue to harvest the garlic. But instead of harvesting them, you can leave them to repel the mice.
With onions, the process is pretty much the same, except they usually mature faster than garlic.
If you don’t want to grow garlic in your yard, that’s understandable. No one wants that smell anywhere near flowers. Luckily, you can still use it to repel mice without growing it.
Just make a puree of garlic from four or five cloves, and mix them with a pint of water. Then, spray it around your foundations or anywhere mice are getting to be a problem.
2 – Sage
Because white and green sage have a strong smell, you can grow them to repel mice, and you get a nice aroma in your garden as a bonus!
For most temperate regions (between zones 5 and 8), outdoor sage will overwinter just fine and grow as a perennial. Any hotter or colder, and the plant won’t survive, but you can still grow it as an annual.
The best thing about sage is that it’s not a picky plant. It’ll grow nicely in all soil types as long as there is decent drainage. It also needs sunlight for most of the day and some room between it and other plants.
After growing the sage, you can trim it down by harvesting its leaves in the fall for culinary uses. Or, you can leave it to repel the mice.
3 – Mint
There’s a wide variety of mint types, and they all have aromatic leaves that can deter both insects and mice. Spearmint is probably the strongest if you’re trying to decide on which kind to get.
Like most perennial herbs, mint doesn’t need any special growing conditions. It’ll thrive in any spot that gets a lot of sun.
However, mint doesn’t like dry soil, so you’ll have to increase the watering frequency when rain gets scarce in the summer.
There’s one thing to learn, though: mint is an invasive species, and its roots are called ‘runners’ because they grow fast. If you’re not careful, your mint may take up your entire flower bed, so I recommend growing it in containers instead.
4 – Lavender
Most people don’t need a reason to grow lavender. Between the lovely scent and the pretty purple color, it’s a common choice even when mice aren’t an issue.
It’s easy to find, too, at your local nursery or online on Amazon.
Like sage, lavender can be a perennial in regions with moderate weather. Otherwise, it can be grown as an annual.
Most people grow lavender in pots and then bring it inside for the winter rather than letting it die back.
One thing to learn about lavender is that it likes dry conditions best, and some varieties are even considered drought-tolerant. Give them plenty of sun and warm weather, and don’t bother with added fertilizer.
You can leave them alone to grow and create a mouse-repelling barrier, which can help with mosquitoes as well. If you want, you can also harvest some of the purple flower spikes to lay around the house for protection against indoor pests.
See my lavender care guide for tips on growing lavender indoors.
5 – Citronella
Citronella is a naturally occurring repellent for mice, insects, and mosquitos. Its essential oil is a popular repellent for all kinds of pests, thanks to its citrusy smell that irritates most animals.
Citronella is best grown in hardiness zones 9-11, which means that it thrives in warm summers and mild winters. It needs partial shade and well-draining soil, and it’s relatively easy to grow and care for.
However, citronella may have an irritating effect on human skin, so if you plan to grow it, make sure it’s far from contact areas.
The plant repels mosquitos effectively, so that’s one bonus point to think about!
If you don’t want to grow citronella, you can always spray its essential oil around your garden. It should be enough to keep mice away until you find another long-term solution.
6 – Catnip
What most people know about catnip is that cats absolutely love it. What most people don’t know is that it’s a good mouse repellent as well.
The perennial herb is easy to grow and thrives in warm weather with plenty of sunlight. It grows best in hardiness zones 3-9, which means it can handle some cold as well.
If you plant your catnip in a sunny area in well-draining soil, you’ll have nothing to worry about. It’ll attract cats to your yard and keep mice and roaches away, which is a bonus. Its smell may also repel other kinds of rodents.
Plants to Avoid If You Have a Mice Problem
Growing plants to repel mice is a long-term solution, and it may take some time. If you want to take faster steps, you may want to get rid of plants that attract mice.
Mice like many vegetables, especially greens and tomatoes.
If you have to grow them, keep them as far from the house as you can.
Strawberries are another favorite that should be avoided if you have an ongoing mouse problem, along with blueberries and corn.
Other Natural Mice Repellents
If you want to make sure you’re covering all bases, you can use some natural repellents alongside the plants.
For example, coffee grounds are known for their repelling abilities, thanks to their potent smell. All you have to do is sprinkle some around your house or outside plants.
Not a coffee drinker? You can get the same effect with a generous dose of cayenne pepper, but I don’t prefer using it because it may hurt wildlife animals and outdoor pets.
Aside from natural repellents, there are ultrasonic devices on the market that get plugged into any electrical outlet and produce high-pitched sounds. Humans can’t hear those sounds, but the high frequency repels mice.
They’re not always the most effective, but they’re a nice alternative to chemical solutions.
However, it’s worth noting that ultrasonic devices are better suited for indoors because the sounds may bug other wildlife animals.
A Little Prevention
Repelling mice isn’t always enough; you’ll also want to take some steps to make sure they don’t return.
For example, it’s better to keep your lawn cut short for at least 10 feet or more around the building. Mice don’t like to run around without cover and are a lot less likely to run around when the grass isn’t long enough to hide them.
You can use that to your advantage by watching the mice and waiting for the right moment to catch them.
Aside from the grass length, you’ll want to keep all holes or gaps in the exterior of your home patched up. The same goes for any smaller outbuildings that may attract mice, like garages, sheds, or barns.
Remember that open wood piles and unprotected compost heaps are two major draws for mice. Secure them with screening if you can, or at least have them away from the house as much as possible.
Bird feeders are a potential source of food for mice as well. Use rodent-proof fixtures to hang your feeders, or add some cayenne pepper to the food. This should be enough to repel the mice, but it may also hurt them if they decide to eat the seeds.
If you’re worried about the birds, don’t be. They’re biologically incapable of tasting spice, so they won’t feel the burn.
Some people rely on outdoor cats to keep mice away, but that’s not a reliable solution. Cats aren’t always prepared to hunt, especially domestic ones. Stick with some clever landscaping instead.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.