How to Get Rid of Gophers from Your Garden: 7 Effective Methods

how to get rid of gophers

Battling gophers in your garden or landscape? These 7 insightful tips on how to get rid of gophers will restore peace and order to your green spaces, ensuring your hard work flourishes undisturbed.

What are Gophers?


Gophers, often mistaken for their burrowing counterparts like moles, are small, furry rodents that can cause extensive damage to gardens, lawns, and agricultural fields. These creatures are known for their powerful forelimbs and large, sharp claws, which they use to excavate intricate tunnel systems beneath the soil.

Gophers are typically brownish in color, blending seamlessly with the earth, and possess small eyes and ears with sensitive whiskers to navigate their dark, subterranean world.

A gopher’s diet primarily consists of roots, tubers, and other plant materials, which they access by pulling plants down into their tunnels from below. This not only results in the loss of vegetation but also disrupts the soil structure, leading to issues like erosion and compromised plant health.

Understanding the lifecycle and behavior of gophers is crucial for effective control. These rodents can reproduce rapidly, with females capable of birthing multiple litters per year, each containing several pups, thus a small problem can quickly escalate if not addressed promptly.

Signs of a Gopher Infestation


Identifying a gopher infestation early can save a lot of time and effort in mitigation. The most obvious sign of gopher activity is the presence of fresh soil mounds on the surface of your garden or lawn. These mounds are typically fan-shaped and appear as the gopher pushes excess dirt to the surface while digging its tunnels. The holes leading to their tunnels are usually plugged, but their location can often be inferred from the mound’s configuration.

Another telltale sign is the sudden disappearance of plants, as gophers tend to pull entire plants into their tunnels from below. This can sometimes be observed as neatly clipped roots or stems at the soil level. Additionally, if you notice plants wilting or dying without an apparent cause, it could be due to gophers severing the roots underground.

Areas of sunken or depressed soil can also indicate the presence of gopher tunnels close to the surface. These weakened areas can collapse under weight, creating hazards for people and pets and disrupting the aesthetics and functionality of outdoor spaces.

Observing these signs and understanding the behavior of gophers are fundamental steps towards implementing effective control measures and protecting your property from further damage.

How to Get Rid of Gophers

Get Rid of

1. Landscaping Adjustments

One of the most sustainable ways to deter gophers is by making your garden less inviting to them. Start by minimizing irrigation; gophers are attracted to moist soil as it makes digging easier and the roots more succulent. Opt for drought-resistant plant varieties and consider reducing the size of your lawn, which can be a major attractant.

Incorporating gopher-resistant plants is another effective strategy. Some plants, such as marigolds, lavender, and salvia, are known to be less appealing to gophers due to their taste or strong scent. Planting these as a border around your garden can act as a natural deterrent.

Raised beds provide another layer of defense. Constructing raised planting beds with hardware cloth at the bottom can prevent gophers from accessing your plants from below. Ensure the cloth extends at least 18 inches below the surface and curves outward to deter digging.

2. Use of Barriers

Physical barriers can offer direct protection to specific plants or areas of your garden. Installing a wire mesh or hardware cloth at the base of plants, especially young trees or prized specimens, can safeguard them against gopher damage. The mesh should be buried at least a foot deep and form a basket around the root zone.

For larger areas, consider creating an underground fence around the perimeter of your garden. A galvanized wire mesh with small openings can be buried to a depth of about 2 feet with an additional 6 inches bent outward in an L-shape at the bottom to prevent gophers from tunneling underneath.

3. Natural Repellents

Natural repellents can be a humane and eco-friendly option for gopher control. Castor oil is widely regarded for its effectiveness; when mixed with water and applied to the soil, it creates an unpleasant environment for gophers without harming them. The solution penetrates the soil and disrupts the gophers’ digestive system, encouraging them to leave the area.

Plant-based repellents, such as garlic and peppermint, can also be effective. Planting garlic cloves or peppermint plants around the garden can repel gophers with their strong odors. Additionally, soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and placing them near tunnel entrances can help drive gophers away.

4. Introducing Predators

Enhancing the habitat for natural predators of gophers is a long-term solution that contributes to the ecological balance of your garden. Birds of prey, such as owls and hawks, are natural gopher predators. Installing owl nesting boxes can attract these birds to your garden, providing them with a nesting site while they help control gopher populations.

Domestic pets, particularly cats and dogs, can also deter gophers. Their presence and the scents they leave behind can make gophers feel threatened, encouraging them to seek safer habitats.

5. DIY Trapping

Trapping is one of the most effective immediate solutions for gopher control. It is humane and allows for the removal of gophers without the use of poisons. There are various types of traps available, including box traps and pincer-style traps. The key to successful trapping is locating active tunnels, which can be identified by fresh mounds of soil.

Once an active tunnel is found, carefully open it and set two traps back-to-back in the tunnel, facing opposite directions. This ensures that the gopher is captured regardless of the direction it approaches from. Cover the opening with a piece of cardboard and soil to block out light, and check the traps regularly.

6. Baiting Techniques

While baiting can be effective, it requires caution due to the potential harm to non-target species and the environment. If you choose to use bait, select products specifically designed for gophers and follow the label instructions meticulously.

Bait can be placed directly into active tunnels using a probe or bait applicator. It’s crucial to keep pets and children away from treated areas and to use bait as part of an integrated pest management approach.

7. Ultrasonic Devices

Ultrasonic devices offer a non-lethal and chemical-free method of gopher control. These devices emit sound waves that are irritating to gophers but are inaudible to humans and most pets. The discomfort encourages gophers to vacate the area. For best results, multiple devices may be needed, spaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure adequate coverage of your garden.

By combining these methods and regularly monitoring for gopher activity, you can effectively manage and reduce gopher populations in your garden, protecting your landscape from damage and preserving the health of your plants.

Professional Gopher Control

Gopher Control

When gopher infestations become too severe or widespread for DIY methods to be effective, or when you prefer not to handle the problem personally, professional gopher control becomes a valuable option. Professional pest control services bring expertise, experience, and specialized equipment to the table, offering tailored solutions that can provide immediate and long-term relief from gopher problems.

Expertise and Experience

Professional pest control technicians have a deep understanding of gopher behavior, biology, and habitat preferences. This knowledge allows them to accurately diagnose the extent of the infestation and identify the most active areas of gopher activity. Professionals can also differentiate between gopher damage and that caused by other pests, ensuring that the treatment applied is appropriate and effective.

Advanced Techniques and Tools

Pest control professionals have access to a variety of advanced tools and techniques that may not be readily available to the general public. This includes commercial-grade traps, specialized baiting systems, and fumigation devices that can address gopher infestations more efficiently and effectively than over-the-counter solutions.

Professionals are also trained in the safe handling and application of any chemicals or baits, minimizing risks to non-target species and the environment.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Professional services often employ an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, combining physical, biological, and chemical control methods with cultural practices to achieve long-term pest management. IPM focuses on sustainable solutions, aiming to minimize environmental impact while effectively managing pest populations.

This holistic approach ensures that not only are the immediate gopher issues addressed, but the underlying factors contributing to the infestation are also considered and mitigated.

Customized Solutions

Every gopher problem is unique, influenced by factors such as the size of the area, the extent of the infestation, the landscape’s characteristics, and the presence of pets or children. Professional pest control companies customize their approach based on these factors, designing a treatment plan that is safe, effective, and tailored to your specific situation.

Follow-up and Preventative Measures

A significant advantage of professional gopher control is the follow-up care and advice provided. Professionals typically offer monitoring services post-treatment to ensure that the gopher population has been effectively reduced and to address any new activity.

They can also offer valuable advice on preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of future infestations, such as landscape modifications, habitat deterrents, and ongoing monitoring strategies.

Peace of Mind

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to opt for professional gopher control is the peace of mind it offers. Knowing that experienced professionals are managing the problem allows you to focus on enjoying your garden and outdoor spaces without the constant worry of gopher damage.

Additionally, many pest control services offer guarantees, promising to address any recurring problems within a certain period after treatment, ensuring that your investment in professional services is protected.

In summary, professional gopher control provides a comprehensive, effective, and worry-free solution to managing gopher infestations. With their expertise, advanced methods, and customized approaches, pest control professionals can restore the health and beauty of your landscape, making it a gopher-free zone.


Combating gophers requires a combination of vigilance and strategic action. From landscaping adjustments to professional intervention, these seven methods offer a pathway to a gopher-free garden.

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