University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q&A
A: The size of the holes and the location along walls suggests rats (snakes can’t dig holes.) Rats are very shy, cautious animals, living any place, city or country, where there is a food source. Because they normally live within 100 to 150 feet of their food supply, you need to locate the supply. Does your neighbor leave dog or cat food outside for his pets?
Likewise, birdseed scattered on the ground under feeders can attract rats. Clean up fallen birdseed and place a device to catch scattered seed under the feeder. Speak with your neighbor about pet food. Pet owners can easily bring food inside at night or only put out amounts that will be quickly consumed by their pets.
In addition, be sure garbage cans are tightly secured with no holes, and compost piles are composed of yard waste, not food scraps.
Rat poison and traps must be used with caution when other animals or children may be in the vicinity. Place then along walls or other paths used by the rats. Traps and poison can be placed inside boxes with holes cut in either end, so the rats don’t feel cornered, otherwise they won’t enter. A weight on top of the box can keep out inquisitive others. Follow all label directions. Leave traps unbaited for the first few days until the rats have overcome their suspicions, then bait.
Q: My lawn care company wants to do a soil test of my lawn. They said they have to do this by law. Is this true or are they just looking for something to do in the winter?
A: Maryland Dept. of Agriculture regulations require that commercial companies perform a soil test of all customers and maintain records of any fertilizer practices. A soil test must be performed within 1 year of beginning service and then again every 3 years. For more information, refer to our publication, HG 103: Fertilizing Facts for Home Lawns.