How to Get Rid of Gophers in Your Yard & Garden – 7 Methods That Work
Gophers can quickly invade your lawn and garden. These small rodents look a little bit like prairie dogs or groundhogs, and their appearance can bode ill for a carefully manicured outdoor space. Gophers can eat plenty of plants, and their digging and eating often damage the roots of your lawn, which can cause dead spots to appear seemingly out of nowhere. Gophers dig into the soil under your lawn and garden, hiding from predators and remaining out of sight while they wreak havoc.
If you are feeling hopeless in your struggle to get rid of the gophers in your yard, don’t worry. There are a variety of diverse methods you can use to get rid of gophers from your yard and garden. Here are seven effective methods to rid your yard of gophers.
The 7 Methods to Get Rid of Gophers in Your Yard and Garden
1. Live Trapping
One of the oldest and simplest ways to remove gophers from your yard and garden is to use live traps. Live traps lure and trap the gophers without harming them. The best way to use live traps is to locate their dens, burrows, and favorite eating areas. Once you have identified where the gophers are, you can deploy traps around the area to lure them in. After you trap the offending gopher, you can remove them and release them somewhere else.
Before releasing gophers, or any nuisance animals, be sure to check your local regulations. Most jurisdictions have rules governing where and when you can release trapped animals. Once the gophers are removed and released in a new location, there is little chance that they will find their way back.
2. Kill Trapping
Kill trapping is similar to live trapping, but instead of capturing the gophers, the traps are designed to kill the gophers. Kill traps often work by breaking the gopher’s neck or back to kill them instantly. Kill trapping is also an effective method of gopher removal, but some people find it unsavory. Set the traps near the gopher’s burrow and check the traps at dawn and dusk. If you do not kill any gophers after a few days, move the traps to a new location until you catch the offending mammal.
Kill trapping sometimes has the unintended consequence of snagging other unwitting animals such as squirrels or stray cats, which can be distressing for some people.
Baiting involves putting out tasty snacks that gophers love to eat and killing them via poisoning. Baiting is a removal method that is used for all sorts of animals, including rats, mice, ants, and roaches. Baiting is another effective method that kills the gopher populations in your yard. Like, kill trapping, you have to be careful with toxic bait because it could end up accidentally sickening or killing other animals or even pets. Be very careful what kind of bait you use, what kind of poison is on the bait, and where you put the bait. It is also a good idea to check in on the laws and regulations surrounding killing nuisance animals via bait.
4. Scented Repellents
You can get rid of gophers from your garden by using castor oil. Gophers think castor oil smells awful, and spraying castor oil in your garden and over your lawn can cause them to leave. Castor oil is easy to obtain and can be extremely effective. For the best results, spray the oil liberally over the areas where you see the gophers the most. Then, using a garden hose, soak the area where you believe that the gopher holes, tunnels, and burrows could be. The water will carry the castor oil down into the soil, where it will invade the underground lair of the gophers, leaving them with nowhere to escape the hideous scent.
You can also contact your local extension office to ask for recommendations on natural plants that repel gophers and other rodents. Finding live plants with irritating scents to add to your lawn and garden can also work to dissuade gophers from making your home their home by using smells that they find terrible.
5. Sonic Repellents
An effective modern repellent for rodents of all kinds, including gophers, is a sonic emitter. Sonic emitters send out pulses of sound waves into the ground that disturb the gophers and force them out of their burrows. Imagine someone parked outside of your window blaring loud music with way too much base at all hours of the day. That is what is happening to the gophers. This method requires you to purchase a sonic repellent device, but they are relatively affordable. Sonic emitters really bother and irritate gophers, but they are harmless to their overall health. The sonic emitters cause the gophers to emerge and leave your yard.
6. Natural Predators
Introducing and cultivating natural predators to your yard can help quell a gopher infestation. Instead of baiting, trapping, or repelling gophers, you can introduce other animals that will eat the gophers or scare them away. This is a natural method of controlling the rodent population in your yard without restoring any artificial means. This method will work, but it could take time to bear fruit. If you have the patience and the wherewithal to try and eliminate gophers with predators, you will see results, but it could take weeks to come to fruition.
Some popular natural predators to consider include house cats and owls. You can build owl boxes and make alterations to your yard to try and attract carnivorous birds like owls and hawks. Gophers are terrified of these birds. One of the reasons gophers burrow underground is to avoid predators like cats and birds. Natural predators could eat the gophers without you seeing, or the prevalence of predators could scare gophers into moving on.
7. Fencing and Reinforcement
One way to prevent gophers from invading your yard is to prevent them from entering in the first place. You can buy landscape cloth, anti-gopher wire, and reinforced fencing to upgrade your garden to prevent wandering gophers from entering. Animals will live in places where food, water, and shelter are abundant and easy to access. If you make accessing these things difficult for gophers, they will eventually move on to seek easier targets. Gopher wire around fences prevents them from burrowing into your yard. Metal fencing and wire can also prevent gophers from getting into your garden and finding good things to eat. Burying cloth and wire around the border of your yard can also interrupt gophers’ digging habits which can cause them to move on.
Dangerous Methods That Do Not Work
One myth that sometimes appears online is that you can use a garden hose to flood gopher holes. This is an ineffective method for getting rid of gophers, and it can cause a large amount of damage to your yard. First, drowning gophers can be considered inhumane. Even kill traps, and lethal baits are designed to kill gophers as quickly and painlessly as possible. Drowning is a drawn-out way to die and often causes fear and panic before death.
Second, the drowning method has not been shown to effectively work as a deterrent against gopher infestations. Flooding gopher holes can also wash out your lawn’s substrate causing your grass to become mushy, soggy, and unstable. This can cause holes to open up in your lawn. Gophers also often have an escape route that prevents them from actually drowning. They will simply leave and move to a different burrow leaving your lawn muddy, damaged, and the gophers intact.
Similar to the flooding method, fumigation has sketchy results and can be harmful to your lawn. Fumigation is ineffective because gophers are able to smell the fumes and move away from the source. They can also insulate themselves from the harmful fumes by surrounding themselves with dirt. Gasses are also able to rise and seep through the lawn into the air above, which can harm your grass and can even cause lingering side effects to people nearby. Fumigation is harmful to your lawn, ineffective, and can be dangerous to people, and is best to be avoided at all costs.
When In Doubt, Call a Professional
If you try these methods and still find your lawn under siege by frustrating gophers, you can always call a professional. There are professional animal control and animal removal companies that will work with you and use enhanced methods to rid your lawn of gophers for good. Professionals cost a fair bit of money, have to work on their schedule, and might use methods that you find distasteful. But professionals are another surefire way to rid your lawn of gophers for good.
Gophers can be damaging to your lawn and garden, they can be annoying to deal with, and for some people, they can even be scary. Luckily, you can get rid of gophers using a variety of methods. In extreme cases, you can trap and kill them or poison them. Other methods simply persuade the gophers to leave on their own and once more give you peace in your garden. One of these methods is sure to work for you and your yard.
Featured Image Credit: veverkolog, Pixabay