How to keep gophers out of garden

Did you know a single gopher can ruin your whole garden in 24 hours? These small, burrowing rodents are a big problem for gardeners. They cause over $50 million in crop damage every year in the U.S. Gophers, or pocket gophers, can ruin your plants and landscapes. But, don’t worry. You can keep them out and save your garden with the right approach.

Gophers can be a problem in some places all year. They rarely come above ground, so the fight is usually underground. They eat the roots of plants and trees, destroying them fast. Their tunnels also make the ground weak, which can cause accidents. This guide will show you how to effectively keep gophers away from your garden so your plants stay safe.

Understanding Gophers and Their Behavior

Gophers are small rodents that belong to the Geomyidae family. There are over 30 different species, all found in North and Central America. They are known for living underground and creating extensive tunnels near the surface, about 6 to 12 inches deep.

From those tunnels, they push dirt upwards, creating C-shaped mounds. Their living spaces, where they store food and make nests, can go as deep as 6 feet below the surface.

Identifying Gopher Mounds and Tunnels

Gophers stay hidden most of the time, keeping to their tunnels. But, their work is visible through the mounds of soil at tunnel entrances. These mounds are shaped like a crescent or C, not like the round mounds from other digging creatures. By finding these mounds and connecting them to the tunnels, people can take steps to manage gophers.

Humane and Natural Gopher Control Methods

Keeping gophers away without using harmful ways is possible. One method is to fence your garden with gopher mesh or chicken wire. This stops gophers from getting in. For new plants or lawns, you can also bury this mesh 4 to 6 inches down.

Gopher Mesh Barrier

To protect plants, use wire baskets around their roots. These baskets are made of materials like chicken wire or strong metal. They help make your garden gopher-proof.

Under-lawn Barrier

Burying mesh below the surface also works. This technique is great for new lawns or small flower beds. It keeps gophers away from plants’ roots.

Gopher Baskets

Gopher baskets are perfect for safeguarding plant roots. They come in different sizes and are very durable. Made from chicken wire or sturdy metal, they prevent gophers from ruining your garden.

Plants That Deter Gophers

To keep gophers away from your garden, you should plant certain kinds of greenery. These gopher-resistant plants are great because gophers don’t like their smells or textures. By adding these plants to your garden, you’re making it harder for gophers to move in.

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Plants Gophers Won’t Eat

Daffodils and plants like allium, onions, and garlic are not on a gopher’s menu. Planting these plants that deter gophers can act as a fence. Put them around the edge or mix them in your garden. This can help keep the burrowing pests out.

Plants That Repel Gophers

Some plants not only repel gophers but also create a smell they dislike. Gopher-resistant plants such as gopher spurge, crown imperials, lavender, and others are useful. By planting these, you create a zone that gophers want to avoid. They work well in beds and around veggies.

What’s cool is that many of these plants that deter gophers also fight off bugs like mosquitoes. This makes your garden a more pleasant place. Using a mix of these plants helps guard your area against gophers.

Using Scents to Repel Gophers

gopher repellent scents

Gophers hate certain smells, making them go away from your yard. You can use different scents to make your yard unwelcoming to gophers. From pine disinfectants to peppermint oil, there are many gopher repellent scents to choose from. These natural gopher deterrents help with scent-based gopher control.

Pine Disinfectants

Soaking rags in pine disinfectants can make gophers run from your yard. The strong pine smell scares them off.

Chili Powder

Chili powder can make gophers’ noses burn, making them leave. They hate the hot feeling it gives them.

Peppermint Oil

Putting peppermint oil on cotton balls and placing them in their holes can work. Gophers really don’t like the strong smell.

Fabric Softener Sheets

Softener sheets with a flowery smell can keep gophers out. They dislike this sweet, synthetic smell.

Garlic Stakes

Garlic stakes with garlic oil can give off a strong smell. This smell makes gophers not want to be in your yard.

Castor Oil Granules

Castor oil granules with their earthy smell create an unfriendly place for gophers. This natural gopher deterrent protects your garden.

Sound and Ultrasonic Repellents

Gophers react strongly to loud sounds. So, using noisy tools can keep them away. You can play a loud radio or hang wind chimes in your yard. This will bother the gophers and may make them leave. Another option is to use ultrasonic repellents. These devices use power from the sun or a battery. They send out vibrations that gophers don’t like. But, these vibrations are not harmful to people or pets.

Electronic gopher deterrents and ultrasonic gopher repellents help for a short time. Yet, they won’t solve the gopher problem forever. Sound-based gopher control can work for a while, but gophers often come back. To keep your yard safe in the long run, use these noise methods with other friendly and natural ways too.

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Encouraging Natural Predators

To reduce the gopher population in your garden, having their natural gopher predators around is key. Barn owls are excellent at this job, with a family eating about 1,000 gophers yearly. Setting up owl nesting boxes can attract these mighty birds to live near you.

Barn Owls

Barn owls are skilled hunters that are great at using wildlife to control gophers. They hunt at night, relying on their keen vision to catch gophers. Creating the right nesting space invites them to work as your garden’s gopher fighters.

Gopher Snakes

Gopher snakes also play a part in managing gopher numbers. Although they don’t eat as often as barn owls, they still help by dining on gophers every few weeks. Their presence is valuable in attracting other helpful wildlife to your garden.


Dogs and cats can be useful in keeping gophers away too. The fact that these pets roam your yard makes it a place gophers don’t like. Even if pets don’t catch gophers, their scent alone can make gophers move somewhere else.

Live Trapping Gophers

Live trapping is great for getting rid of gophers in your garden. But, to succeed, you need patience. Gophers have a lot of babies. They also dig big tunnels underground.

When you set up a gopher trapping device, find their main tunnel. This is usually 5-10 inches deep. Look for the hole they use to come out. Then, place a trap in the tunnel in both directions. This is more likely to catch them.

How to Set a Gopher Trap

Some people use gum, like Juicy Fruit, to attract gophers. But, traps work well on their own. It is crucial to check the traps often. And, when you catch a gopher, be sure to handle it as gently as possible. This is how you keep gophers under control in a kind way.

Hiring Professional Gopher Removal Services

Gopher Exterminator

Hiring a professional gopher control service is a quick way to solve big infestations. These experts know the best ways to handle a gopher problem. They can help get rid of the gophers. Then, they’ll teach homeowners how to keep them away without using harmful methods.

When there’s a big problem that’s hard to fix, call an expert exterminator. They use special tools and techniques that regular people don’t have. They quickly figure out the problem and use the right methods to get rid of the gophers.

Getting a gopher exterminator can be great for anyone with lots of open space. A professional can cover a big area better than doing it yourself. They also give advice on keeping gophers away for a long time.

Benefits of Hiring Professional Gopher Removal Services
Rapid and effective control of gopher infestations
Access to specialized equipment and techniques not available to homeowners
Ability to treat large or complex areas more efficiently
Guidance on long-term gopher prevention and maintenance
Humane and environmentally-friendly methods
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Even though it might cost more at first, hiring a professional gopher exterminator is worth it. Their knowledge and methods are very effective. Homeowners will be able to get their yards back and keep them gopher-free.

Methods to Avoid

Keeping gophers out of the garden is important, but some methods are bad. Avoid using poison bait, fumigation, smoke bombs, or flooding tunnels. These can harm the environment and are not good for the soil.

Poison Bait

Poison bait might seem like a fast way to get rid of gophers, but it’s risky. It’s dangerous for pets, wildlife, and the earth. Even a little could be deadly. So, it’s not a good choice.

Fumigation and Smoke Bombs

Fumigation and smoke bombs are not the way to go either. They can hurt more than the gophers. Other small animals and bugs could get hurt too. Plus, it’s bad for the environment and you.

Flooding Tunnels

Trying to flood gopher tunnels won’t really help. It might make things better for gophers by making soil wetter. This can also cause problems like soil erosion. It’s not a smart idea.

Avoid these bad ways of dealing with gophers. Choose gentle and natural methods instead. They are better for the earth and your garden.

How to Keep Gophers Out of the Garden

gopher-proof garden

The best way to keep gophers out is to use different methods together. By combining a few strategies, you build a strong line of defense. This keeps your plants safe and sound.

Gopher Baskets for Individual Plants

Gopher baskets are perfect for protecting single plants. They’re made of strong wire mesh. You put them around the plant’s roots to block gophers. The baskets, often made from galvanized hardware cloth or chicken wire, are tough and keep gophers away.

Raised Garden Beds with Hardware Cloth

Another great method is using raised garden beds lined with hardware cloth. This acts as a barrier that gophers can’t break through. It stops gophers from getting to your plants and works well for things like vegetables.

Landscape Fabric and Weed Barrier Cloth

Using landscape fabric or weed barrier cloth in your garden is also helpful. They make it hard for gophers to dig into the soil. These materials, along with baskets or raised beds, add to your garden’s gopher defenses.

Following these humane tips will help make your garden gopher-proof. You’ll be able to grow your plants in peace, without worrying about gopher damage.


Gophers can really frustrate gardeners, but there are ways to cope that are both humane and eco-friendly. This guide has shared many effective methods. From barriers and plants they dislike to promoting natural enemies and using live traps.

While getting rid of them completely is hard, these strategies can really cut down on the damage they cause. With a little care, you and the gophers can share your garden peacefully.

It takes some work, but you can have a beautiful garden without gopher troubles. By using a mix of the methods in this guide, you set up a strong defense. This will help your garden flourish for many years. Stay focused and use the right tactics, and you can keep your plants safe from harm.

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