It’s prime growing and gardening time, and along with that comes the unfortunate problem of unwanted pests. Some backyard visitors are great — a monarch butterfly, a hummingbird that whips by in a flash, even a stray cat in the neighborhood is a pleasant passerby to encounter. There are a few, however, that are less welcome in your natural oasis. One of the most annoying and persistent challenges gardeners face today? Gophers.
Caddyshack is a cute movie and all, but those little critters can really do a number on your delicately planted roots and wreak havoc on your manicured lawn. Due to the fact that their work takes place underground, they’re also notoriously difficult to catch and divert towards less precious ground. Despite being half-blind and the fact that many of them work solo, with max one gopher per acre of land, they’ll chew through anything — from plants to tree roots and even utility lines.
Thankfully, this is a problem that’s afflicted many, and with that need has come the invention of a whole host of potential solutions. We’re here to explore those solutions and take you through the steps of humanely diverting gophers towards other land. We’re erring on the humane side of things because, well, those are the options that sit best with us. Without further ado, here’s how to get rid of gophers and protect what’s yours.
In This Article We’re Covering:
- How to tell if you have gophers
- Steps to take to deter gophers from your yard
- How to tell if your gopher is gone
- How to prevent gophers from coming back to your yard
Step 1 – Monitoring
The first step is making sure you actually have gophers and not moles, voles or other underground pests. This will affect how you deal with them and what action steps to take. If it’s a gopher, you’ll see a horseshoe-shaped digging mound and a plugged tunnel where they get in and out. This digging pattern is distinctly gopher-esque, and is usually a pretty reliable way to identify them.
Step 2 – Weeding
The first step for how to get rid of gophers is weeding. If you keep your garden weed free, they’re a lot less likely to encroach as there’s nothing for them to eat on the way. Weeding by hand is the best way to go in a small garden, but if you’ve got a larger plot of land the following weed solutions can be quite effective in eliminating these invasive plants quickly and efficiently.
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
This weed killer from Green Gobbler is natural and organic, and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that will endanger your pets, children or family who enjoy playing around in your yard. It contains 20% acetic acid that’ll decimate weeds within a couple of hours and is safe to use anywhere. It’s perfect for use on driveways, mulch beds, in gardens and flower beds as well. It’s made straight from corn, is ready to use right out of the container and is certified for organic use as well.
Edward Tools Weeding Tool
If you prefer to remove your weeds by hand and avoid chemical sprays, this weeding tool from Edward Tools will get the job done. It’s got a leverage metal base that rests on the grass and uses a lever action to pull up stubborn weeds all the way from the root. It has a deep V nose design that can dig deep and remove the roots so the plant doesn’t grow back. The handle is ergonomic and extra large for less hand fatigue, and the whole process keeps the rest of your garden safe, organic and alive.
Step 3 – Avoidance
Install gopher wire on the bottoms and sides of your plant beds, or plant the while thing in a gopher basket. This wiring is tough for the gopher to chew through, and is a pretty strong deterrent. There are specific baskets for trees that should be used instead of the regular plant baskets. They degrade over the course of a few years to keep from constraining the tree’s roots as they grow further and further into the soil.
RootGuardTM 1 Gallon Gopher Wire Basket
This pack contains four 1-gallon gopher wire baskets for planting and protecting plant beds from pesky chewers and diggers. Each one is made with knitted stainless steel that’s easy on the hands but tough on the critters, and is equipped with a convenient centering ring that makes installation easy. They’ve also got above-ground protection built in with extra length for securing it to the stem and/or trunk of your plant. They’re also pre-formed and pre-rolled and ready to use out of the package.
Another way to spur avoidance on their part is repellants. Castor oil is a great gopher repellant that won’t kill them, but will disrupt their digestive tract enough to keep them away. Combine castor oil with water and spray over your plants and lawn to get the desired effect.
Nature’s Mace Castor Oil Gopher Repellent
Nature’s Mace is 100% castor oil concentrate formulated and used by professional exterminators. It’s a commercial-strength formula you can use in your own home to protect your lawn and plants from unwanted visitors. This gallon alone can treat 5,000 sq ft of space and is 100% safe for your family and pets. The castor oil is powerful but also organic, natural and non-toxic.
You can also use scare tactics to keep them away through sound devices like a sonic spike. These devices stake into the ground and product electrical pulses that irritate the pests and drive them to the neighbor’s yard and beyond.
Diaotec Solar Powered Sonic Spike Gopher Repeller
This sonic spike from Diaotec emits vibration and buzzing sounds undetectable by humans but irritating to gophers every 25 seconds. This high frequency radiation signals to gophers that something dangerous may be nearby, and they should vacate the area quickly. This powerful repeller is solar powered and only requires four hours of sunlight to charge fully and when fully charged maintains the frequency continuously for 24 hours, seven days a week. It protects lawns up to 7,500 sq. ft. and comes with aluminum tubes that allow you to extend its length in the ground and protect it from water logging. This gopher solution is a completely chemical-free and humane response.
Step 4 – Suppression
What’s one of the most effective ways to suppress the population of gophers? Traps. Humane traps of course, that won’t kill the gophers but will limit their movement so you can relocate them to another area where they won’t cause harm.
In order to effectively trap, you want to aim for their main burrows. Using a sharp tool, stick it into the ground about six to eight inches from the mound, once you hit the burrow your tool will suddenly drop about two inches.
Set one trap in the main burrow, and two other traps facing opposite directions from it so you’ll have the highest likelihood of catching the culprit.
Check your traps in the morning and evening, and if they haven’t seen any action in 48 hours since you first placed them, move them to another location.
LassoTrap Gopher Traps
This gopher trap from LassoTraps is designed to trap the rodent and allow you to release it wherever you’d like. The design is durable and economical, with oil-hardened spring steel that’s high-quality and works in a snap to catch whatever is coming its way. It alerts you when you’ve caught something so you can react accordingly, and the design has been tested by over 100 years of use and continues to prove itself effective. Although it’s not designed to do this, on occasion this device does kill gophers, so use caution and safety gloves when setting the trap.
GopherHawk Trapping Set
This trapping solution is organic and safe, and won’t damage your garden or send you squirming too much. The whole process with this tool happens above ground, without a shovel and is clean and easy to accomplish. The box includes the gopher trap, a wedge and a probe, used instead of a shovel to locate and open a gopher run. With this solution, you never need to touch the gopher, dirt or dig up anything — no muss, no fuss.
Does your dog have natural hunting instincts? Great! That might help with your gopher problem. Terriers have the noses and hunting ability to track down these critters and trap them effectively. However, it’s important to note that gophers can also carry fleas, ticks or other parasites on them so be sure to check your pet after they come in contact with one, and follow your vet’s instructions.
After you’ve done all of this, and it seems like you’ve successfully gotten rid of your backyard frenemy the gopher, it’s time to double check. Poke a hole into one of their burrows and if after a few days the hole is still open and not plugged up, your friend has packed his bags and moved on to the next town.
Take a few precautionary measures now to avoid additional problems in the future — these may include planting deterrents, installing wire meshing around your plant beds and installing a solar-powered ultrasonic emitter. With all of these preventative methods in place, unwelcome guests will think twice about entering your yard in the future, and will hopefully alert their friends to do the same.