How to Make Rat Barriers for Backyard Fruit Trees

If you've been following my blog for some time then you will know that I've been fixated on a few things over the years: the apple trees in my yard and rats. Yes, rats. You can see some of my hopeful posts about my little espaliers here, here and here and some of my more bitter posts about rats here and here. Well, it's that time of year when these two obsessions converge. 

You see, I have a pretty decent crop of apples… and I have signs of rat activity in the yard. That's a big rutrhoh. Last year when that happened the apples dwindled down to nothing. It was so sad.

So this weekend, I built these little rat defender cones made from flashing for some of my trees. I got the idea for this here

The process is like building a lampshade. I roughly eyeballed my dimensions on the back of some wrapping paper, 

and traced it onto the flashing. It is just your basic aluminum flashing that came in a roll. I forgot to take note of what gauge it was, but it cut easily with my metal sheers.

When cutting a tight circle in flashing, it helps to cut a relief line first and always use gloves, that s%*# is sharp.

These really need to be attached with some zip ties but I'm out and that will require a run to the hardware store. The cone length is about 10" long, which I hope is enough. I think the slipperiness of the metal and the awkward angle is really what makes this an effective system. The cone is held together with some machine metal screws and nuts.

The next thing I did was build these barriers along the wall against which the espaliers sit. There is a concrete ledge there and vines on either side of the trees that provide another way onto the espaliers if you are a sneaky rat.  

Basically I just nailed a 14x28" piece of sheet metal along the concrete lip so that the rats can't traverse the wall onto the trees if they climb the vines on either side.

I used these really tall cylinders for the two little free standing trees. They are made out of some scrap zinc. I may also add a reverse cone to the top of these because I'm not entirely sure they are slippery enough to deter climbing.

I'm not really sure why there are so many rats in my yard aside from the fact that it is the city and almost all of the yards on my square block are very lush, which I hear is what they like. And clearly there are not enough cats… Meow :)

p.s. Getting a cat has been a big topic of conversation in our house. My husband used to be allergic but may not be anymore, but we're not 100% sure. We need to test drive a kitty.

Anybody out there got some other tips for this problem? I'd love to hear.

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