Best Natural Ways to Get Rid of Gophers
Gophers are part of the rodent family, which means they do look like rodents and tend to carry diseases like them. They can also carry rabies. Many people wonder how they can get rid of gophers without using chemicals. The answer is you need to be smart about it!
So, how do you get rid of gophers naturally? There are many ways to naturally rid your yard of gophers including trimming your trees, keeping your lawn mowed, cleaning your grill, installing protective fencing, and planing gopher grass, to name a few.
Keep reading to learn more about the many ways to get rid of gophers naturally.
What Are Gophers?
Gophers, also known as “pocket gophers” are small herbivorous mammals with large front teeth and broad powerful back legs which allow them to quickly dig through the ground. The gopher’s fur ranges from a light shade of brown to a darker brown, depending on its habitat.
Gophers live underground, where they create tunnels that can stretch up to 100 feet long. These tunnels have chambers for nesting and storing food. Every time a gopher finds a tasty root, tree, or plant it will store the food in one of these chambers as well as return each day to eat its stores. In total, an adult gopher may create 20 – 30 different burrows over its lifetime.
Gopher Size & Lifespan
The average gopher lives for about 5 years. Since they continue growing throughout their life there is no limit to how large a gopher can get. A particularly large specimen was recorded at 13 pounds!
Why Gophers Love Lawns
Gophers love their food to be moist and tasty. That’s why they frequently attack lawns. The gopher will eat the roots of the grass in your yard until there is no way left for it to support itself.
Gophers eat most plant roots and fungi including carrots, peas, potatoes, and alfalfa. This can lead to malnutrition for other animals such as rabbits and deer. Gophers will eat roots from trees. However, this is not common because the protein levels in tree roots are low compared to plants.
Gophers live in burrows they dig underneath the surface of the soil. Gophers, being rodents, have constantly growing incisor teeth so they are unable to stop digging once they start. (A gopher may construct dozens of tunnels even before it goes through puberty.)
These tunnels can cause damage to homeowners’ gardens and root crops by causing the ground above them to sink or erode. The constant expansion of their tunnel systems will eventually destabilize any objects on top of them (trees, sheds, etc.)
Primary Consequences of a Gopher Outbreak
There are three primary consequences to a gopher outbreak in your yard.
The cost for gopher control can be very high. One method termed the ‘flooding technique’ entails creating a series of dams made from soil and vegetation that fills the tunnels with water, drowning the gophers in their burrows.
Another popular option is to trap or poison gophers by using chemicals such as zinc phosphide which is hazardous to pets and other animals when ingested. If you do not have any animals or children these options may not be necessary but it must be done properly otherwise they will return.
Having a gopher problem could make your lawn ugly and affect social relationships if you were planning on having people over. Also, the damage to the root systems could lead to a bad garden that cannot support certain plants or may not grow at all if they are beyond repair.
Gophers have been known to carry diseases, such as bubonic plague which can cause health problems in people and pets. They also pose an extreme danger when encountered because of their powerful teeth and jaws, more so than even some household pests.
Gophers are particularly dangerous because their simple presence in an area means that toxic chemicals have begun leaking into the ecosystem. Gophers are known to carry around harmful bacteria such as E. coli so their waste must be avoided by all animals.
How to Tell if You Have Gopher Damage
If you think you have gophers in the area, it is important to know how to tell if gophers are indeed the pest. This way, you can take the proper steps to get rid of them.
Signs of Gopher Damage
- Mound-shaped dirt that pops up throughout your yard or garden.
- There will be narrow holes that they use to come and go from their burrow.
- The plants in your yard will be eaten down to the ground leaving a clean area where they have been eating from the roots.
- They may also eat your vegetables, fruit trees, and other crops.
If you find a little hole in your yard chances are it was dug there by one of these rascals! So, if you want to get rid of them, simply remove everything they rely on including lawn, vegetables, and more.
10 Ways to Get Rid of Gophers Naturally
Fortunately, there are several natural ways to get rid of gophers in your yard.
1. Keep Your Lawn Mowed
Gopher holes, tunnels, and mounds won’t appear in your lawn if your grass is shorter than 6″ tall. It’s best not to cut down your lawn with weed eaters because the debris can irritate their eyes when they’re trying to work so hard digging out tunnels in your yard. But whatever you do, keep it short.
2. Keep Your Tree Branches Trimmed
Gophers don’t like to come out in the open when they’re in your yard, which is their biggest weakness. If you keep your tree branches trimmed back 6 feet up from the ground or higher, gophers won’t be able to jump onto them and eat the roots (which is what they do).
3. Get Rid of Trash Cans & Substitute with Bins
If you have trash cans sitting around, place heavy stones on top of them so that gophers can’t open them easily because they can get inside and make a mess by digging around for food scraps. Alternatively (or additionally), switch to bins instead of trash cans if possible because it takes away one level of access.
4. Cut Back Bushes
Bushes are an ideal place for gophers to hide in. Cutting them back by at least 6 feet should be done. Gophers tend to come out of hiding spots during the night time or early mornings, so this will help you get rid of the problem before it even happens.
5. Keep Dogs on Leashes
Dogs are great at catching gophers. This is because they’ll instinctively know what’s going on if they see something running underneath the surface of the ground. You can’t let dogs run around outside off-leash because they could hurt other pets or kids by mistake, but letting them track down gophers is a good idea.
6. Clean Your Grill
When you grill out at home, avoid fat drippings that drip onto the ground. Gophers like to eat anything fatty because it’s easy for them to chow down on, so clean your grill off thoroughly before you turn it off for the night. You can also line the bottom of your grill with stones so they don’t come up through your grass.
7. Remove Grass Clippings From Driveway & Walkways
Grass clippings are just as good as beef fat for gophers. This means you should sweep up all grass clippings from driveways and walkways every night before turning in.
8. Install Protective Fencing
When you have trees, bushes, and other plants that are vulnerable to gopher activity, install protective fencing on all sides of them so they don’t attack the roots by mistake. Just mark out a boundary on the ground with string first before you proceed with laying down chicken wire or some heavy-duty netting around the area in question. Be careful not to cut yourself!
9. Get Rid of Rabbits & Gophers Together
Rabbits love to munch on fresh grass but hate having their tails getting chewed off by gophers – if this happens too often they’ll be more than happy to share their burrows with rabbits instead of gophers. If you have a rabbit problem, it’s best to get rid of them both at the same time.
10. Plant “Gopher Grass”
The best way to kill two birds with one stone is by planting “gopher grass” in your yard! This plant has roots that gophers detest because they’re so bitter and pungent (and other people can’t eat them).
It also smells like catnip for rabbits, who will go crazy over the stuff. Put this stuff all around your garden or just grow it on its own in clay pots to deter gophers effectively… and you won’t even need fences!
If the smell of humans becomes too strong they will abandon their burrows and take refuge elsewhere. Alternatively, and perhaps more extremely, you place bait in the tunnel (nuts, seeds, or dried fruit soaked in sugar water) to kill them.
The presence of gophers on your property is not only unsightly but damaging for your plants and even your home. You will need to control them quickly before the problem gets out of hand. Try these 10 ways to get rid of gophers naturally without having to get your hands too dirty.