Pocket gophers, commonly referred to as gophers, are rodents that are widespread across Central and North America. They are known for their extensive tunneling and, like moles and groundhogs will quickly destroy a beautiful lawn. However, they are more like rabbits when it comes to appetite and will eat every almost plant root in your yard or garden, leaving nothing but a trail of destruction. Want to know how to get rid of gophers? Then don’t worry. There are several home remedies to get rid of gophers in your garden and protect keep your plants from these pests for good. Check out our gopher repellents.
How to get rid of Gophers
1. Soft Candy or Chewing Gum
The gum is not poisonous to gophers but it is thought that chewing gum gets stuck in their intestines. From a blocked gut, they eventually die in their burrows. There is however little evidence, except anecdotal, that it works.
But according to Rex Marsh, vertebrate pest control specialist at UC Davis, when he used this remedy on gophers in captivity, most of the gophers only developed a sweet tooth (3).
This remedy is meant for the areas where gophers are only an occasional problem, not a permanent threat (4).
3. Pet Waste
Rather than throwing away your dog’s poop or cat’s litter into the waste, use it to block gopher tunnels and mounds.
Gophers will instinctively avoid an area where they smell predators.
4. Gopher Repellent Plants
So what can you plant to keep gophers away?
Euphorbia lathyris, which is popularly known as “Gopher Spurge”, is said to control subterranean burrowers such as gophers.
It is a natural gopher repellent plant. If you want to know how to keep gophers out of garden, then one strategy is to plant gopher repellent plants on your garden perimeter.
These gopher deterrent plants are easily available in almost all nurseries. Grow these plant all through your yard, particularly in areas where gophers are found.
Note: There is no valid proof regarding the use of this remedy (7).
5. Portable Radio
Take a battery powered portable radio and put it in a Ziploc bag to safeguard it from moisture. Turn on the radio, keeping the volume low, and place it in those areas where gophers frequent.
Gophers will leave the area in a couple of days. If you find them coming back, then use the radio again.
This method is temporary and it is meant for the areas where gopher problems are not long-term (8).
If you have pets or children, then be very cautious while using these methods.
Strychnine is delivered by mixing it with grain. Open a hole into a gopher tunnel using the end of a broom or shovel. Pour the strychnine-laced grain into the tunnel.
It is also done mechanically in heavily infested areas. The mechanical bait applicator creates an artificial burrow and places small quantities of strychnine bait every three feet down.
Another poison that can be used to kill gophers is an anticoagulant bait called diphacinone. A solid block of grain and wax is used as gopher bait and to this, diphacinone is added.
The homemade gopher poison then should be placed into a gopher tunnel.
You can also make a bait using 4 quarts of vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, sugar beets or parsnips are good), 1/8 oz. strychnine and 1/80 oz. saccharine.
The vegetables should be washed and drained. Cut them about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch square. Mix the saccharine and strychnine in a mortar or dish and make sure the mixture is dry. Pour this mixture on damp vegetables (15).
7. Rotting fish
So, whenever you go for fishing next or have some leftover fish scraps, then simply place the scraps inside or near the gopher tunnel(s).
8. Castor Oil Repellent
Readily available castor oil is a very popular remedy to repel gophers (16). Its usage is scientifically proved in the Eastern United States.
It gives the gophers diarrhea when eaten and they will leave your property in search of a new habitat.
To prepare this gopher repellent, blend 1/4 cup of unrefined castor oil and 2 tablespoons of a dishwashing liquid. Now dilute this mixture with water: 2 tablespoons of the solution to 1 gallon of water.
You can also plant castor oil plants to get rid of gophers from your lawn and garden (19).
9. Burrow Detonators and Blasters
These burrow blasters use a mixture of oxygen and propane to eliminate pests in their burrows.
Propane gas is also used in various devices to control these pests: some of these devices are meant to kill them, while others are designed to produce loud noises to scare the gophers away (22).
These methods are obviously dangerous, so be cautious while using them (23).
10. Coffee Grounds
Sprinkle the used coffee grounds in the gopher openings. Also, spread some grounds all around the garden area. Now, cover the holes with soil.
Evidence for this remedy is weak. One frustrated gardener used 500 pounds (!) of coffee grounds in a small area.
He did notice that there was a gradual decrease in the gopher population but this remedy also resulted in nitrogen depletion of the soil (24).
11. Gopher Baskets
You can either purchase these baskets from farm supply centers or nurseries or they can also be made at home.
Use a double layer of 1-inch mesh chicken wire. This is used for shrubs and trees that require safeguarding only while young. Leave enough space to allow root development.
For plants that need long-term protection, baskets made from ½-inch mesh hardware cloth can be used.
Larger areas can be protected by an underground gopher fence. But this is a temporary solution as gopher are capable of digging deeper than 24 inches.
12. Dryer Sheets
These sheets can also be used as a gopher repellent. Gophers detest the smell of the strong scents that are present in dryer sheets.
This is an inexpensive way to solve the gopher problem. Simply place a few dryer sheets into the gopher holes and cover them with soil.
13. Gas or Vehicles Exhaust
The exhaust of your vehicle contains carbon monoxide that is harmful to gophers. It is a very simple and effective home remedy to get rid of gophers. Simply use your vehicle’s exhaust fumes to flood the gopher tunnels with noxious gases.
Connect a pipe to the engine exhaust and place it in the tunnel. Pack soil around the pipe and flood the whole tunnel network for 3 minutes.
This method even has its own name it is so good: Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Control (PERC) (27).
Burrow fumigants like aluminum phosphide and ignitable gas cartridges can also be used to get rid of pocket gophers. The fumigants should not be used above land as they are only meant to be used in gopher tunnels.
14. Vibrating Stakes
Other types of stake are wind-powered and have small windmills attached on the surface, causing constant vibration.
However, we doubt these methods are effective. Gophers don’t get frightened easily. This is because of their regular exposure to noise and vibrations from powered equipment, vehicles, and people moving about (29, 30).
Pour 5-gallon buckets of water in a gopher tunnel or you can also simply use a hose. It will not necessarily kill the pests, but it will force them to leave their burrows (31).
16. Peppermint oil
Add some oil to a cup of pure alcohol to dissolve the oil. Add this mixture to a spray bottle and dilute with water. Spray fresh mounds, areas of infestation and surrounding vegetation.
The peppermint oil also acts as an insecticide, further protecting your plants from attack
As soon as they smell the naphthalene (moth balls) they will leave the yard (35).
This is a temporary solution but it is useful for areas where there is a smaller gopher population (36).
Place gopher traps in the tunnels or passageways of an active gopher mound. Excavate into the heap or mound, and put the trap diagonally into the tunnel.
Wrap up the area with the help of a black plastic sheet or burlap in such a way that no light reaches into the hole. As soon as you trap them, release them in a distant location from where they can’t come back.
Various gopher traps are available at farm supply stores. The Macabee type trap is one such trap to be used in the main tunnel, near fresh mound activity (38).
19. Tabasco Sauce
Shake well. Immerse cotton balls in this solution and put them into the gopher holes. It will keep the gophers away from your garden.
Dig a trench along your fence and bury Galvanized metal hardware cloth along the fence perimeter. Fill the trench when the cloth is in place (39).
21. Jalapeno peppers
Spray the mounds and surrounding plants with pepper spray. (40).
Make your yard a friendly spot for owls to roost.
23. Wormwood Tea
All you need is ½ pound of Artemesia leaves and 6 pints of water. Chop the leaves and bring them to boil in 2 pints of water.
After boiling, simmer the solution for 1/2 an hour, keeping the water level topped up.
Then, strain the solution and add 1 quart of fresh water. Now you can spray this liquid on the underside of foliage.
Use the solution immediately after preparation.
24. Garlic and red chili powder
Make this garlic fire spray using 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2-3 garlic bulbs, 12 hot chilli peppers, 3 squirts liquid detergent and 7 cups of water.
Blend all the ingredients, strain through a muslin cloth and fill a spray bottle. Spraying this mixture in garden and lawns will repel gophers (41).
- Keep a pet at home to scare them away.
- Be able to tell the difference between a molehill and a gopher hill. Gopher hills have plugs blocking the entrance while molehills are a symmetrical hill of earth. The home remedies to get rid of moles and gophers are very similar.
- Wear gloves while using the above remedies that involve building a trap, repellent etc.
- The tunnel networks of gophers are wide and interconnected as they are rodents and reproduce rapidly. Infested areas are generally more prone to re-infestation since the new gophers always like to use those old tunnel networks. So, keep an eye on fresh gopher holes and quickly make a move to drive them off (42).
- Avoid touching poisonous things that you are using on gophers. Wear gloves.