"How do I get rid of gophers in my lawn ...my yard ...my garden?”
Is that your question again this season?
Gophers are not deterred by boundaries or fences. They have no respect for your most prized plants and seem to relish the thought of attacking a new lawn. Don’t give up! (and don't move away!)
Learn how to get rid of gophers. They are a recurring threat for some, a constant problem for others. The only permanent solution may be three inches of concrete. But there are ways to improve your batting average as you fight them.
What is more frustrating than gopher mounds in your lawn?
Perhaps solutions that don’t work?
Do you know the things to avoid?
Let’s look first at the ideas that are less than ideal.
Here are four of the LEAST recommended ways if you want to know how to get rid of gophers.
1. DROWN THEM
It seems like a good idea. Push a hose into their tunnel and let the water flow! Have you ever wondered where the water goes? It could end up in the neighbor’s yard or cause you problems somewhere else. It won’t kill many gophers.
They not only have tunnels, they have burrows. They store food in them. They set up nurseries for the kids. They sit in them and watch the water flow downstream. The burrows are always higher than the tunnel. Save your water. (They like it when you soften the ground for easier digging!)
Actually, there are a few situations where flooding could help. In an agricultural field that uses flood irrigation, which guarantees the entire area will be inundated, the gophers will be forced to the surface.
If you see a gopher pushing dirt above ground at a new hole, that would be the time to try. You might get lucky by pushing a garden hose in the tunnel entrance and turning it on full force. If he has another exit nearby, he may pop out, so be prepared to act. (Decide ahead of time how to get rid of gophers fleeing the scene: options to catch or smack it, and then how to dispose of it.)
In the same scenario, but when there is no escape hole, you probably won't drown the gopher. It is possible, but you won't know. It may feel good to try, but this is not going to be your most productive approach.
After flooding a tunnel, if it is not very deep below the surface, you may be able to collapse the tunnel by stepping or tamping on it. This could interfere with his movement through your property, and give more opportunities to trap or poison when new mounds are built.
2. BLOW THEM UP!
There are many variations to this. Pour gasoline down the tunnel and ignite it. Fill the tunnel with propane, butane, or natural gas, and ignite it. It might work. It’s rather dangerous. In fact if you don't have a manufactured dispensing tool for the gas, it could be extremely dangerous to you and your property.
You might kill the gopher. You will probably kill your plant roots. If you try this on a lawn area, you’ll know in about a week where all the tunnels lead. The grass often dies above the burn zone. The home brewed approach to blowing them up relies mostly on flames in the tunnel. This is not the best approach for the above reasons.
There is a way to blow up gophers and other rodents like ground squirrels, using a device that many call a gopher blaster. This is a precision instrument that calibrates the flow of propane (usually less than 5% of the mixture) with oxygen. It has an electronic igniter to explode the gas. There is a minimum of fire. The main impact is the result of intense concussion within the tunnel.
This is not really suitable for smaller confined areas or closely situated neighborhoods. It is also prohibitedly expensive unless you have large acreage to treat. Blowing up gophers is not practical for the normal homeowner situation.
But for those of you who relish the thought, you can find more information in this article, Is A Gopher Blaster The Answer?
At one point, some states in the USA prohibited the use of these devices. Last time I checked, almost every state took action to permit them. I'm not keeping track currently, so it would be best if you checked with your city or county for any local restrictions or ordinances that might prevent their use. This is certainly a possibility in fire prone areas.
3. GAS THEM
As in: take their breath away; 'exhaust' all their resources; or asphyxiate their population with air pollution.
What about it? Can you hook up a hose to exhaust from an engine, put the other end in the tunnel, and either chase them away or put them to sleep permanently?
There are devices for sale for hooking up to your car exhaust. They get positive results for some, none for most people. You don't get much for your money. It is usually a simple adapter that is supposed to fit anything, but many people have trouble connecting it and getting it to stay on.
If you try it, here are some concerns and cautions: Do you have a long enough hose to reach all the holes, or can you drive to the area? You likely will need to do more than one hole or area, since the gopher can plug his tunnel quickly when he smells fumes entering.
Can there be a problem with running the car engine with the back pressure produced by this set-up? Ask someone knowledgeable whom you can trust. Some people suggest putting oil or transmission fluid in the gas to make it smoke and be more toxic to the rodent. Don't! You are risking major repair expenses.
Another suggestion is to hook it up to a lawnmower engine by removing the muffler. A small engine like this gets extremely hot.and its exhaust gas is much hotter than car exhaust. You may melt your hose. (Plus you may not be able to get the muffler off your mower as the threads get stuck from the heat and corrosion.)
Final analysis, it is a great concept for those who have seen it work. It is a great frustration for many who find it a waste of money with nothing to show for it. How desperate or how lucky are you?
4. Double Their Pleasure.***
Have you heard the one about the gopher who ate Juicy Fruit gum and wished he hadn’t? It’s true. There are people everywhere who swear it works. They put a stick of gum (Doublemint and Spearmint are also on the menu) in a gopher tunnel. When he eats the gum it is supposed to get stuck in his intestines and that’s the last thing he eats. (Cramps his style, I guess!)
It’s not a bad arrangement. It just isn’t proven to work. Many agricultural agencies try to dissuade homeowners from expecting success with this.(But then, the government probably isn't ready to start experiments on this until they finish the cow-methane-gas-in-the-pasture tests.) There’s no harm in trying, so if you are so inclined, buy a big pack.
One word of caution. If the critter is getting real close to a new fruit tree or rose bush, don't rely completely on that before you know it works for your gophers. Employ a guaranteed method, and do your test trials in a non-critical area.
There is one situation where Juicy Fruit gum has proven its worth in the gopher hunter's arsenal. A now retired gardener holds the unofficial record in Southern California for trapping gophers for his clients. His tried and true method for getting them into his traps used Juicy Fruit. Bob would fold a soft stick of gum over the trip plate of a Macabee gopher trap. They couldn’t resist it.
Will it gum up their insides? Who knows? Use the gum if you like.
But if you want to get rid of their toothy grin, the best idea is to tease them into your trap with it!
Now that we've dissected the Myths, let's look at the Truth and find the Best.
Now that you know what not to try, what should you do? What do most people do?
Every situation is different. When someone asks how to get rid of gophers, any of the following factors can affect the answer:
Keep these questions in mind as you investigate the different ways to kill gophers, found in the next article in this series.
The best way for getting rid of gophers? It varies and changes. Choose the path that is necessary or practical... for you... at this time.
You must be willing and able to follow the procedure you select, or it won’t happen.
The essential action you can take is consistent attention to gopher control. Stay observant and respond soon when a new varmint shows up. That will provide you with successful results and cause the least amount of stress or bother.
What information will help you learn how to get rid of gophers? Your main choices will fall in the categories of killing gophers or repelling them. A third approach is to selectively protect certain plants. This is not so much how to get rid of gophers, but tolerating a limited coexistence.
The following list of articles will provide details for selecting your best approach.
Click on the blue links which indicate an article is currently on a page and ready for you.
(The remaining topics hopefully are coming soon, but all are shown here so you are aware of future material that might benefit you.)