Gophers Be Gone: Drive Off Unwelcome Underground Guests with These Effective Gopher Control Methods

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 11 minutes.
Updated: .

No underground creature wreaks as much havoc as gophers. While they may look cute, there’s nothing attractive about the destruction they can cause.

These excavating rodents create elaborate networks of underground tunnels that result in unsightly dirt piles above the ground. But that’s not all. These voracious herbivores eat all plant types, so they destroy your crops and landscaping plants. They also chew through underground utility cables, irrigation pipes, and sprinkler systems.

To protect your flowerbeds, vegetables, and yard from continual damage, you need to know how to control gophers quickly and effectively. Fortunately, there are a number of gopher control techniques. We’ve done the legwork and compiled the top techniques you can employ to control these pesky critters.

How to Keep Gophers Away

The key to gopher control lies in understanding how these destructive critters operate. The gopher spends nearly its entire life in burrows below the surface of the ground. It usually emerges only at night to eat plants near a burrow opening or clean out the excess dirt in its burrow.

The gopher digs subterranean tunnels as a way to move from one feeding location to another. The tunnels can go up to 6 feet deep and several hundred feet in length.

Gophers have large incisors and strong front claws for digging.

Moles also create tunnels, so it’s easy to mistake a gopher problem for a mole problem. There are ways you can verify you’re actually faced with gophers and not moles.

Did you know that gophers are notoriously solitary animals except during the mating season and that they produce 1 to 3 litters annually with 5-6 young per litter? Learn more gopher facts here.

Identifying a problem

As a gopher digs its burrow system, it pushes soil to the surface, creating a mound that has a fan or crescent shape when viewed straight down. Dirt mounds created by moles have a conical shape and look like small volcanoes.

Tireless gophers
Gophers don’t hibernate. They’re active all year round. However, they’re most visibly active in the fall and spring when the soil’s moisture content is ideal for digging. In the winter, they tend to feed heavily on the roots of trees and shrubs.
A gopher can produce up to 70 mounds in a month and move 1-3 tons of soil to the ground surface in a year.

Apart from the shape of the mounds, there are several other signs of a gopher infestation.

Gophers damageThey include:

  • damage to roots, seeds, bark, bulbs, and other plant parts;
  • holes or spongy spots in turf;
  • girdled or clipped shrubs or trees just above the ground level;
  • the disappearance of leaves, stems, fruits, or vegetables from the lawn and garden;
  • surface irrigation loss because of tunnel drainage;
  • gnawed water lines or electrical lines.

Effective Control Methods

Gophers can be shifty and difficult to get rid of. To gain control of them, you’ll need to take the battle to them on their own ground – their burrows.

To find out if a gopher occupies a certain tunnel system, make one-inch holes in the tunnel’s roof. Revisit the tunnel in 24 hours. Holes that have been plugged are an indication of gopher activity.

Once you’ve found an active tunnel, you can employ several gopher control techniques. Let’s take a closer look at them.


Trapping is a popular method of controlling gophers. You can set gopher traps throughout the year, but they’re generally more efficient in the spring and fall.

Traps can be set in main tunnels or lateral tunnels. You can bait them with carrots, lettuce, alfalfa, apples, or peanut butter. Nevertheless, traps will work without bait provided they’re properly placed in the ground. If a trap hasn’t captured a gopher after two days, you should move it to a new location.

Traps can kill gophers in 48 hours when used correctly. Read this to learn more about how to kill gophers.

Let’s take a look at some traps that can help you get rid of these pesky little troublemakers.

  • Victor Black Box Gopher Trap
    Black box trapCost: $14.87
    Where to buy:
    This choker-loop style trap is more effective than conventional box and wire claw traps. It can kill gophers in less than 48 hours if used properly. It’s suitable for use in all soil types. Its plastic and galvanized steel construction gives it superior strength and durability.
  • Victor Easy Set Gopher Trap Twin-Pack
    Easy set Victor's gopher trapCost: $12.99
    Where to buy:
    Just as the name suggests, this trap is easy to set. It’s made of galvanized steel that makes it strong and durable. You can use it in all soil types. For more details on gopher traps, go here.


Baiting involves dropping poison baits into the gopher tunnels. Baits should always be placed in the main tunnels and not the lateral tunnels.

Here are some of the gopher baits you can consider buying:

  • Sweeney’s Mole & Gopher Poison Peanuts
    Sweeneys Gopher Poison Peanuts PelletsCost: $4.84
    Where to buy: available on Amazon
    These poison peanuts quickly kill gophers after they ingest them. The canister has a cone tip to make it easier to punch holes through active tunnels and apply the bait.
  • JT Eaton Gopher Bait Poison Blocks
    JT Eaton Gopher KillerCost: $61.54
    Where to buy: available on Amazon
    This bait comes in a 10-lb pail that has resealable packaging for long-term use. The active ingredient in the bait blocks is anticoagulant diphacinone, which effectively kills rodents.

Exclusion fencing

Underground wire mesh fencing can help you get rid of gophers. Since they like to feed on plants and certain plant structures such as roots and tubers, installing this type of fencing can exclude these pests from your entire yard or a particular vulnerable area such as your garden.

The mesh prevents these burrowing pests from pushing dirt to the surface or living above the fence.

Antigopher fenceFor best results, consider the following:

  • Place 1-2 inches of soil between the wire mesh and sod roots. Don’t place the mesh directly below the sod because that will allow the gopher to feed on the roots from the other side of the fence. You should also avoid installing the fence too low because the gophers will simply tunnel above it.
  • To successfully exclude gophers, the wire mesh openings should be small enough. A galvanized hardware cloth that has ½ by 1-inch openings will work well.

You can also line the perimeter of your lawn or garden with a wire mesh fence.

Here are the considerations you should make:

  • The fence should be buried at least one foot underground and stick out a few inches above the ground. That will prevent gophers from burrowing or climbing over it.
  • To keep out persistent gophers that may dig below the fence, reinforce this control method with a gopher repellent.


If you’re looking to stop a gopher problem before it starts or keep these annoying rodents away without killing them, consider using gopher repellents. These products make an area unappealing to the gophers, forcing them to relocate.

Repellent products can be organic, chemical, mechanical, or electronic. Let’s explore some of the commonly used gopher repellents.

Castor oil repellents

Castor oil has a noxious taste and laxative effect. Its overwhelming odor repels gophers.

The sense of smell in the gopher is highly developed.

Castor oil repellents can also coat your vegetation and spoil their taste. The unpleasant taste and smell forces gophers to look for food elsewhere.

Castor Oil Gopher Repellent Granules

Castor Oil Gopher Repellent Granules

These products are available in granular or liquid form:

  • Granular repellents. You apply castor oil granules by sprinkling them onto an area of your yard or your entire property. You can then water the granules in or wait for the rain to do that for you. As the granules dissolve, they release a repulsive smell.
  • Liquid repellents. Use a hose end applicator to spray these repellents to your flowerbed and lawn.

Ultrasonic repellents

An ultrasonic repellent uses batteries or solar power to create a high-pitched sound in the ground. This constant noise bothers gophers and encourages them to move elsewhere.

An ultrasonic repellent is designed to make gophers get out of their burrows, so you can pair it with a trap. The gophers will get into your traps as they run around.
You can also pair the repellent with poison bait.

After the gophers leave your property, you can leave the ultrasonic repellents in the ground to prevent return visits.

Catcha Ultrasonic Repellent

What is the best gopher repellent?

All the different repellents available are designed to encourage gophers to vacate your property. Although you may manage to get rid of gophers with just one type of gopher repellent, the best method to adopt is putting two or more control solutions to work. The more solutions you use, the higher your chances of long-term gopher control.

Regardless of the repellents you choose, you’ll need to use them persistently to achieve success in eliminating gophers.

The top 3 products to buy

Definitely, you don’t want to experience the massive damage that gophers can bring about when they take up residence in your yard. You’ll need to have the right control products to deal with stop these destructive rodents.

Here are some top repellents that many people have found success with:

  1. Sweeney’s Mole & Gopher Repellent Granules
    Cost: $9.70
    Where to buy: available on Amazon
    These castor oil granules repel gophers, moles, and other burrowing animals. They make the ground smell and taste unpleasant. The product covers up to 2,000 square feet.
    Sweeneys Gopher Repellent Granules
  2. Bonide 692150 Mole Max and Vole Repellent Granules
    Cost: $24.71
    Where to buy: available on Amazon
    With 10 percent castor oil, the granules repel gophers, moles, armadillos, voles, skunks, rabbits, and other burrowing animals. This repellent provides 5,000 square feet of coverage and can last 3 months.
    Bonide MOLEMAX Repellent
  3. Catcha Solar Powered Sonic Mole Repeller
    2 Pack Catcha Solar Powered Sonic RepellerCost: $29.99
    Where to buy: available on Amazon
    This device emits sounds and vibrations every 25 seconds, making rodents avoid the area. It’s solar-powered hence easy to maintain.

Natural Deterrents

If you want to save your family and property from harmful chemicals, you can use natural deterrents to get rid of gophers. These techniques take advantage of gopher habits and habitat requirements.

Take a look at some of the natural solutions you can use:

  • Plants they hate. You can repel gophers by growing plants that they find unappetizing such as gopher spurge, sage, daffodils, iris, castor oil plant, thyme, and geranium.
  • Fruit flavored gum or soft, chewy candy. Put soft candies or chewing gum in the gopher tunnels. The gopher is likely to die if it eats this sweet treat.
  • Water. Use a hose to flood the tunnel or pour 5 or more gallons of water into it. This will force the gopher to vacate the burrow.
  • Fish. Gophers dislike fish scent. Place fish scraps in or near the tunnels.
  • Coffee grounds. Sprinkle the grounds into the gopher tunnels. Next, cover them with soil. Spread some coffee grounds around your garden area as well. They will help deter gophers.
  • Tabasco sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of this sauce, a few peppermint essential oil drops, and ½ cup of castor oil to a cup of water. Mix well and then immerse some cotton balls in the solution. Put these balls in the tunnels. They’ll help repel gophers from your garden.

Everyone wants a beautiful yard. Unfortunately, gophers don’t care about where and what they dig, and can destroy all the countless hours of hard work you’ve put into making your yard the envy of the neighborhood. Put an end to their disheartening activities by using the above essential gopher control tips and solutions.

You can find further details of Gophers Control here.

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