Gophers have a talent for finding your favorite plants and eating them. They infest your front lawn while leaving your neighbor's property untouched. For those who've resolved to make gopher scourges a thing of the past, there are some effective and time-tested strategies.
Method One of Three:
Using Non-Lethal RemediesEdit
1Scatter some of your pet's droppings. Instead of tossing your cat litter or your dog's poop into the trash, put it into the gopher tunnels instead. You won't need a lot; one or two droppings will be enough. Cats and dogs are gopher predators. When gophers smell the poop, they'll think that a predator is nearby.
2Use smells that gophers don't like. Gophers have very sensitive noses. If they smell something they don't like, they may leave. Here are some scents that are bound to set gophers scurrying:
- Fish. The next time you go fishing, save some of the scraps (such as fins) and place them in or next to the tunnels.
- Castor oil. Dilute castor oil with some water and spray it into the tunnels, You can also try dropping some castor oil capsules into the tunnels instead.
- Coffee grounds. After you have finished brewing a cup of coffee, sprinkle the grounds into the tunnels and cover them with soil. You can also mix the coffee grounds into your soil. It will help repel the gophers while fertilizing your plants.
- Dryer sheets. Take a few dryer sheets and tuck them into the holes. The strong smell will send the gophers away.
- Mothballs. Drop a couple of mothballs into the tunnel, and cover the opening with plastic. Gophers don't like the smell of naphthalene, which is in mothballs.
- Tabasco sauce. Mix together a few drops of peppermint essential oil, 1 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce, ½ cup (120 milliliters) of castor oil, and 1 cup (240 milliliters) of water. Soak some cotton balls in the mixture, then drop them into the tunnels.
3Plant gopher spurge. This plant, also known as "Euphorbia Lathyris," is a common gopher repellent. Buy a few from your local nursery and plant them in your yard. Focus on the gopher infested areas.
4Create a noisy environment. Like many animals, gophers dislike a lot of noise. If you find gophers in your yard, try using something that makes noise, such as:
- Portable radio. Find a cheap, battery-operated radio. Turn it on and stick it into a plastic, resealable bag. Tuck the bag into the gopher tunnel. The plastic bag will protect the radio from getting wet.
- Wind chimes. They are pretty and create a soft, chiming noise that gophers seem to dislike.
5Use vibrating stakes. Most vibrating stakes are set deep into the ground, and are completely invisible above ground. They are usually battery-operated. You can buy some that are wind operated. These ones stick above ground and are ornamented with a windmill. You can buy them online, and in certain nurseries or home improvement stores. To insert the vibrating stake:
- Dig a hole into the ground. Make sure that it is deep enough to fit the stake.
- Slip the stake into the hole.
- Fill the hole with more dirt.
- Avoid hammering or pushing the stake directly into the soil, as this can damage it.
6Set a gopher trap. Cover all holes with soil, except for one or two. These should be the entrance and exit to the main tunnel. Wash the trap using unscented soap and warm water. Put on a pair of latex gloves, and insert the traps into the tunnel, with the open end facing inside the tunnel. Once you have placed the trap, cover the area with a sheet of black plastic or burlap so that no light shines into the hole.
- The main tunnel is usually 6 to 12 inches (15.24 to 30.48 centimeters) underground. You can find it by poking the ground around a mound, on the same side as you see freshly-dug-up earth. Use a weeder or wooden spoon handle. Keep poking until you feel the soil "give."
- Some people find that rubbing the trap with fresh rosemary helps further disguise the smell of humans.
- Once you have trapped the gopher, either call up animal control or release it into the wilderness.
7Use a sewage-based fertilizer. Whenever the soil gets wet, the chemicals in the fertilizer will leach into the soil, and repel the gophers. Avoid using this if you have pets, children, or plan on protecting fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Put on a pair of latex gloves, then follow the steps below:
- Dig a trench about 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) wide and 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) deep around the area you want to protect.
- Consider digging a few extra trenches and have them meet in the center of the area you are protecting.
- Fill the trench(s) with the fertilizer.
- Cover the trench with 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of soil.
Method Two of Three:
Using Lethal RemediesEdit
1Use gopher burrow blasters or detonators to smoke them out. They may also be labeled as gopher flares. They fill the tunnels with a mixture of propane and oxygen. This kills the gophers. Buy a few, and read the instructions included, as each brand might be a little different. Insert the flare into the tunnel and wait.
- Burrow blasters/detonators will also work on: badgers, ground hogs, ground squirrels, moles, pocket gophers, prairie dogs, voles, and other burrowing animals.
2Gas them using your car's exhaust. Cover all of the holes up with soil except for one. Stick one end of a garden hose into the end of your car's exhaust pipe, and the other end of the hose into the remaining tunnel. Turn your car on for about 15 to 30 minutes. The hose will flood the tunnel with poisonous carbon monoxide.
3Use poisons with care, especially if you have pets. When a gopher eats the poison, its body will keep that poison. This means that if your cat or dog eats the dead gopher, he or she will get poisoned as well. Because of this, you might want to stay away from poisons containing strychnine. Instead, go for anticoagulants instead. They will cause internal bleeding in the gopher, but won't make the corpse toxic.
- Keep all poisons away from children and other animals.
- Consider other methods if you have pets at home.
- Always wash your hands after handling the poison.
- To use a Warfarin type bait / pellet poison, you poke down about 1 foot (0.3 m) from a recent dirt mound to find a tunnel. Gently open a small hole, pour some pellets in, cover the hole without collapsing the tunnel.
4Try using a garden hose to flood the gopher tunnel with water. This may not work for your situation, but if you've tried other avenues without success, consider it. Keep in mind that, depending on how deep the tunnels are, your yard could get very muddy. Cover up most of the gopher holes, and stick the end of a garden hose into a tunnel. Let the water run for up to 30 minutes. Kill or trap any escaping gophers.
- Make sure that you are indeed dealing with gophers. Ground moles love the damp. If you have ground moles and flood you are flooding the tunnel, you'll only make your yard more inviting.
5Try leaving some fruit-flavored gum or other soft, chewy candy in their tunnels. Many homeowners find that the Juicy Fruit brand works quite well, although there is no scientific research as to why. Put on a pair of latex gloves first, so that your scent doesn't get on the gum. Unwrap the gum and drop it into the gopher hole. The gopher will eat it and die in its burrow.
6Release a predator. This can be as simple as letting your cat or dog out into the yard. Keep in mind, however, that this also depends on the predator's hunting ability and willingness to hunt.
- Not all cats and dogs will get gophers, and their smell alone won't always help. You need a dedicated and skilled cat or dog. If you have a cat who can catch and kill gophers, you are in luck. As for dogs, some dogs you'd never think were ratters can be very good. But if you want to be sure you're adopting a dog who'll hunt gophers, try to get two Jack Russell Terriers (both should be altered to prevent puppies). Two terriers will tag team a gopher. They'll wait on opposite sides of a hole, and when the gopher emerges one or the other will get it. If you have a friend with JRT's and your yard is fenced and dog-escape-proof, you can ask to borrow them, too.
- Set up some owl boxes in trees to invite owls into your yard. The owls will prey upon the gophers. You might not want to do this, however, if you have small dogs or cats.
- Buy some non-venomous snakes and set them loose in your yard. Keep in mind that it may take up to a month for the snake to clear our your yard. If you have a very big gopher problem, consider getting two snakes.
- Get a gopher snake with caution. While a gopher snakes are not considered to be venomous, they may still hurt a cat or smaller dog.
7Hire a professional. A professional exterminator can use Aluminum Phosphide, which reacts with moisture in the air and soil to produce fast-acting highly toxic phosphine gas. There is no residual poison, and there is no secondary poisoning. If your pet digs up and eats the gopher carcass, there is not a chance that your pet will get poisoned. This is the most expensive option, but many exterminating companies offer guarantees.Advertisement
Method Three of Three:
Decreasing the Food SupplyEdit
1Decrease the food supply or prevent the gophers from getting to it. The less gophers have to eat in your garden, the sooner they will move on to other yards. This does not necessarily mean that you have to get rid of all your plants, vegetables, and flowers. If you can keep the gophers from getting to your tasty plants, they will move on. Here are some ideas to get you started:
2Use gopher baskets to protect your plants. Plant vegetable and other vulnerable plants in gopher baskets. These are baskets made of chicken wire that protect the young roots until they are well established.
3Use mulch as a buffer between the soil gophers burrow in and your plants. Gophers seem to dislike the smell and taste of mulch.
4Limit the amount of plants in your garden. Instead, consider planting a rock garden or a water garden. Water gardens can be very beautiful, and you can place aquatic plants in them.
5Build a fence, but make sure that part of it extends underground. While gophers are good at burrowing, they are bad at climbing. Buy some wire mesh from your local nursery or home improvement store. Place it around your garden. Make sure that it extends at least 12 inches (30.48 centimeters) underground. This will prevent the gophers from burrowing under it.
- Make sure that the fence is a few inches tall above the ground.
- Try to make the underground part of the fence curve away from your plant bed in an "L" shape. This will confuse the gophers, and prevent them from digging deeper (below the bottom of your fence.
6Build some raised plant beds instead. This will involve building some planters and filling them with soil. You can then place everything into those planters. For ultimate security, consider lining the bottom of your planters with chicken wire to prevent the gophers from digging under the planter walls and into the planter itself.Advertisement
How do I get rid of gophers in my yard if they don't make holes, but leave tunnels?Answered by Noah Bogle
- A way to do it might be to make your own hole. Get a stick and poke through your yard or whatever has the gopher problem, and find a tunnel. You'll know when you find a tunnel because it will be easier to stick your stick in the ground.
We are senior citizens unable to work our yard. We have two dogs that live in the house, but go out in the backyard through the day. Our yard seems to be full of gophers (or moles, we don't know the difference). What can we do without poisoning our dogs?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Gophers make crescent holes and moles create round molehills. Moles eat insects and grubs, while gophers eat plant roots. Also, moles are loners while gophers are very sociable. Rodents don't like caster oil or peppermint. Sprinkle these on plants in the gopher holes they should stay away.
I put the water hose in the gopher hole and let it run for about 40 minutes. I also put bleach down there, but I could not see water coming out from anywhere else in the yard. Where is it going?Answered by Noah Bogle
- I don't know, but it may just be going into the dirt. Try smoking the gophers out with flares. You can also connect a hose to your car exhaust and smoke them out with that. It may actually help you find out where the other hole is.
If the mound of dirt is 3 or 4 in, high how do I find the tunnel?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- You could use a small diameter metal rod with a slight bend. Some people use a long screwdriver. It is easy on a fresh mound. Once you have some experience, you can tell which side of the mound it is because gopher is pushing it out and piling it up and it makes sense.
If you’re looking for a non-lethal way to get rid of gophers, place fish scraps, coffee grounds, mothballs, or hot sauce into their holes. Gophers hate the smell of these objects and they will relocate. You can also drive vibrating stakes into the ground near where the gophers have been spotted. If you’re still having problems with the gophers, try setting up a trap.
- If you can't locate a tunnel after about 30 seconds of probing, try a different nearby mound.
- If you use water in the gopher holes more than once and the gophers do not die, the gophers will move to another part of your garden. If you use water there, they will probably leave your garden completely.
- Infested areas are prone to re-infestation, because new gophers like to use old tunnel networks. Be alert to fresh gopher holes and treat them quickly.
- Use latex gloves to handle anything you put into the gopher hole. Gophers avoid things that smell of humans.
- Some of these methods take time. Give them a few days before trying another.
- There are devices, instruments called "thumpers" that provide a percussive sound to the ground near gopher holes. It irritates them so much they leave.
- After the gophers have been eliminated, monitor your yard regularly for reinfestation Clean away weeds and garden debris from your yard area so fresh mounds can be readily seen. Take immediate control action when they do reappear.
- If you consider using traps then place either a wooden board to cover the hole then place dirt or rocks to make sure the gopher can spring the trap from either direction.
- Don't use a poison bait if your pet might eat either the poison or the poisoned gopher. If you use a bait, keep away from children and pets, then wash your hands after application.
- Oleander is toxic to pets and children. Use caution when planting Oleander near areas where children or pets go.
- Don't attempt to capture a live gopher and bring it into your home.
- Check your city, country, or state's laws regarding getting rid of certain pests. Some methods for getting rid of gophers may be illegal in certain countries and states.
- Comm forms of poisons used to kill gophers are (check the label of ingredients on any commercial gopher bait you might use) : Strychnine – This is the most common form and most effective. It is also the most damaging to the overall ecosystem. Strychnine will not only kill the gopher, but will kill anything that eats the dead gopher or anything that may eat the grain set out for it. Zinc phosphide and, like strychnine will kill any animal that eats the poisoned gopher or bait grain. Chlorophacinone (RoZol) – This is an anticoagulant poison. It is the least effective of the poisons, but has the least threat of damage to the surrounding ecosystem. It takes about 10 times more of this poison to kill a gopher than strychnine or zinc phosphide. And it, like the other two poisons, it will kill anything that eats the dead gopher or anything that may eat the grain set out for it. Use these gopher poison with extreme care.
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Reader Success Stories
CH"I haven't tried anything yet. Wasn't sure if I had a mole or gopher problem. But with the information you provided, I most likely have a mole problem. I'm an elderly woman and not sure if I would be able to use the trap method. Will try other recommendations."..." more
KF"I looked at a house for rent today, and there's gopher holes. Wanted to know what to do about it if I decide to rent the place. I would start with the cotton balls soaked in Tabasco and dump my coffee grounds. Great ideas."..." more
JS"It has given me a plan for action against a gopher. We didn't know for sure what was in our yard until this morning, when I saw it run from our backyard to another."..." more
CT"Had huge gopher hole in yard. Husband flooded hole with water. Just like Caddyshack, water sprayed out of two more holes. Gone now. Thank you."..." more
JJ"Learned that gophers can be eradicated by placing a mixture of Boric acid and milk powder in specific corners of the yard."..." more
A"We use wire mesh with 1/4" holes. We also use wire baskets for critical plants. We're definitely into non-lethal methods."..." more
GC"Loved the info - we have been having gopher problems, and now have new things to try!"
JM"Clarified questions I had about how to place the traps. Gave me lots of good ideas. "
SA"I haven't started doing the research, but non-lethal is what I'll do. Thanks."
LB"It was interesting, I'll be using a few things I read about."
A"We used the water hose and we used gum."
AR"Good and to the point."