Pest-Proof Your Shed for Winter
With winter creeping up on us, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how we can prevent little critters from getting into our backyard sheds to escape the cold. Because, it’s a pretty awful feeling to open that shed door and see the wreckage left behind by some of the more common winter pests: rodents, cockroaches, rabbits, spiders, snakes, and even feral cats.
The good news is, because EasyShed uses BlueScope steel, your shed is already in a pretty good position. You don’t have to worry about termites or other pests that look for sources of wood to munch on during those long winter months. This heavy-duty construction means that it will be easier to keep your shed dry and sealed, lowering the likelihood of an animal being able to get in at all.
The Department of Health has plenty of information around pest control and their recommendations. Still, it’s a good idea to protect your shed from some of the other pests that tend to pop up right around June and July. So, what can you do now to brace your shed for the oncoming cold? Here’s a simple guide on pest-proofing your shed for the winter.
Shed Prep Step One: Clear out the tasty and otherwise appealing items from your shed
When you look at your shed, you may see a couple of stored items, maybe some gardening tools and supplies, or perhaps a working area. What pests see is a landscape of potential living spaces, nesting spots, and dining areas. Try to look at your shed through the eyes of a rodent or insect, so that you can start to take the necessary steps make that shed less livable for pests.
First, let’s consider the tasty items. Now, when we say tasty, we don’t mean food that would be delicious for us. Instead, think about the items that you may have in your shed that would attract a pest infestation. Here are some common food sources for Australia’s most prevalent pests:
- Cockroaches love paper products. Cardboard boxes, cabinets full of files, piles of old books are all ideal places for them to live, eat, and lay their eggs. If you currently have cardboard boxes in your shed, upgrade them to heavy-duty plastic bins. For filing cabinets, consider moving them inside or replacing them with plastic filing boxes that can be sealed completely.
- Moisture is a necessary element for most pests to survive. Later on, we’re going to talk about how to seal your shed to keep the rain out, but it’s also important to do a quick check for any moisture that may be lingering on the items inside your shed. If you use your shed as a meditation room, for instance, maybe you have a calming fountain that you’ll need to drain and dry. If you’re growing plants in your shed, it’s important to drain and dry all spray bottles as well as the trays underneath pots.
- Finally, food. If you use your shed for food storage, whether it’s human food, bird seed, or animal feed, pests will flock to your yard. Just like with everything else, the perfect remedy is a strong plastic bin. This is also going to ensure that your food items don’t spoil. It’s always a good idea to check the expiration dates of any items you will be storing in your plastic bins - if they’re going to expire before you get around to using them in Spring, it’s best to get rid of them now or donate them to someone who will use them.
Some other considerations would be materials that are ideal for nesting and hiding. Here are a few big ones:
- Rodents, rabbits, and feral cats are all going to appreciate material that they can use to snuggle up and keep warm. If you are storing clothing, linens, or any type of bedding, chances are, by spring, you’ll notice that they’ve been well used throughout the cold winter months. These materials can also attract clothes moths whose larvae feed on natural fibers. You can protect these items by, again, storing them in plastic bins or relocating them inside your home (after a good wash, so that you don’t track the pests inside with them).
- Wood piles and other natural materials. Snakes and spiders like nooks and crannies where they can hide and settle in for winter. That’s not to say that you absolutely cannot have these items in your shed, but it’s best to take some extra precautions. One easy fix is to make sure that your firewood is dry and that you move it around as much as you can instead of always pulling logs off of the top. It’s also helpful to keep wood off of dirt flooring.
- Unused construction materials. A shed is a great place to store the leftover tiles you didn’t use for the kitchen remodel as well as all the PVC piping and other materials that you plan on using in the future. But, be careful. The longer these things sit untouched on a shelf, the more appealing they become to little nesters and web spinners, who can hide behind them and set up camp. Every once in a while, just make sure that you move these items and clean off your shelves.
Shed Prep Step Two: consider upgrading your floor
If you’re thinking of purchasing a shed for the first time, we suggest that you consider laying down a concrete slab as your flooring. This is easy to keep clean and will discourage pests from making a winter home in your shed.
If, on the other hand, you already have a shed with a natural flooring, it might be a good idea to consider putting down a more durable and pest-proof floor. This might be as simple as installing an interlocking plastic floor if your shed is on level ground. Otherwise, you might need to build yourself a base and move your shed on top of it.
Feel free to call our support team to discuss the best options for you, and check out the flooring options on our website.
Shed Prep Step Three: make sure there are no leaks in the roof
A leaky roof not only allows pests to enter through cracks in the ceiling but also increases the humidity of your shed. Pests can’t survive without water, so it’s crucial to keep as much water out of your shed as possible. Check for possible weak spots and seal them before winter rolls in. Follow our recommendations for simple ways to maintain your garden shed.
Shed Prep Step Four: seal all cracks
The roof is an important place to start winter-proofing your shed, but it’s equally important to focus on any other areas where pests might find their way inside. Windows, spaces between shed walls, and even parts of the shed that have been damaged are all potential points of entry for critters. Mice can squeeze through a hole that is just .6cm, and even smaller holes can be chewed to become large enough to fit through.
You should thoroughly check all parts of your shed inside and out to ensure that there are no cracks. If you’ve hooked your shed up to electricity, make sure to check all wiring holes.
For cracks that you do see, use a strong sealant, epoxy filling, or even a sheet of corrugated steel to cover the hole or crack. Another trick is to use a mixture of steel wool and caulk to repair cracks and cover holes. This inexpensive fix is great because mice and other rodents will have a harder time chewing through it.
If your shed has windows, you might consider covering them up completely if you won’t be using your shed during the winter months. Otherwise, just make sure that they are able to close completely without leaving any cracks.
Shed Prep Step Five: Wire mesh around the bottom perimeter of the shed
If your shed is on a raised base, pests will have a pretty easy time burrowing underneath, and subsequently up into your shed. You can keep them out by wrapping the base in a strong wire mesh.
Check the mesh periodically for any weak spots, as rodents will try to chew their way through the it.
Shed Prep Step Six: Consider traps and repellants
If you’ve had a pest problem in your shed in the past, and you worry that the same is going to happen this winter, you might consider setting traps or investing in pest repellant.
While traps and repellents are a fine option for some, just keep in mind whether these tactics are the safest for you and your family. If you are going to be spending time in your shed this winter, it’s probably not a good idea to spray insecticide all over the place. Likewise, it can be dangerous for pets to be around rodent traps.
The other problem with these kinds of remedies is that they often don’t eliminate a whole colony of pests. Trapping and removing one mouse at a time isn’t going to “send a message” to the rest of the colony. It’s much better to invest the time in those prevention steps we discussed in the previous steps.
Shed Prep Step Seven: Look into natural remedies
An added measure may be non-invasive natural remedies for pest control. Here are a few common tricks:
- Garlic spray. Most insects hate the smell of garlic, so a spray of nothing more than garlic and water can often be enough to drive them away. You can make the spray by crushing about 6 cloves of garlic and adding them to a mason jar or other container that can withstand heat. Pour boiling water over the garlic and allow it to sit overnight. Strain the garlic juice and pour it into a spray bottle. Use the spray generously inside and around the outside of your shed.
- Essential oil sprays. Mosquitos hate citronella. Flies hate eucalyptus. Spiders hate peppermint and citrus. These sprays will be even more potent when you mix the essential oils with apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or vodka.
- Diatomaceous earth (DE). This is a natural ingredient that will ward off a whole host of different kinds of insects. It’s even effective against cockroaches. Simply pour it around cracks and openings in your shed and the insects will stay away. DE is completely non-toxic to humans, and won’t harm your pets.
- When it comes to larger animals, there aren’t too many natural repellants that are proven to work. Some people swear by animal urine (such as coyote, fox, or some other larger predator) to ward off smaller rabbits and rodents, but that’s not such a great idea. In fact, a study conducted here in Australia found that many predators are attracted by the smell of their competition, so spraying fox urine around your shed actually has the opposite effect of driving pests away. Plus, there’s an added risk if you have pets, yourself. House cats have a great sense of smell, and exposing them to the scent of predators may trigger them to mark their territory in your home - yikes! Instead, focus on removing the appeal for larger animals by following the steps we’ve discussed - get rid of food, seal the shed, etc.
Shed Prep Step Eight: pest-proof your home
Once you’ve remove the appeal of a shed, pests are going to look towards the nearest possible alternative: your home. So, make sure to avoid the issue of pests jumping ship and finding shelter in your home by following the same steps on this list inside your house.
Shed Prep Step Nine: when all else fails, call in a professional
If you’re dealing with a consistent pest problem in your shed and you’re worried that it’s just going to get worse come winter, it might be time to call in a professional. This person will be able to pinpoint where the pests are entering and work with you to eliminate the animals that are present as well as create a prevention plan for the future.
And there you have it!
With these steps, your shed will be perfectly prepared for a pest-free winter. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your fellow shed-owners, and let us know your thoughts!