Gophers in the Garden

Casey Cash
Casey Cash Posts: 21
edited May 2018 in The Homestead: DIY
We got a dog border-collie who loves to dive for them.  I'm not sure what is worse, the Gopher holes or the big holes my dog leaves after finding and catching them.   Most of the holes can be refilled with the small CUT tractor I got with the straight blade.  Other times, it's just the shovel and rake.

Now, since this is a garden, I've had some success with products that uses fox urine or predator urine that the gophers fear.  Also, there are certain plants my dog loves to raise a leg and urinate on, so, I've planted a few of those on the perimeter of the garden as well.  Saves on the cost of buying the stuff.  Note, we feed our dogs like we eat, the protein levels make the urine stronger.  Don't go too much on the protein though feeding them.

Mole traps are so-so with gophers.  If they smell the slightest human scent on the metal, they will not touch it.  Likewise, human breath on the trap is a no-no too.  Rodents pick up the slightest scent of anything.

Now, how to catch a gopher.   Get a live trap, a small stainless dog bowl, place half a handful of BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) in the bowl.  Place bowl in the live trap, set the trap, place the trap in the garden very early morning.   You will get gophers, possums, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and cardinals.   That is what I've gotten in mine over the years.  With the live trap, get a long pole with a hook when Mr. skunk is caught.  Use a tarp first to cover the live trap, then remove to a safer place to release skunk.  Others may just 'plink' it dead from a safe distance and role the body out into a pre-dug hole.


  • Casey Cash
    Casey Cash Posts: 21
    edited June 2018
    This is awesome advice! Thanks so much!

    We have used fox urine in the past to deter deer, I never thought to use it for gohper.

    I suppose the same would work with human urine right? Maybe we should all just hold our bladders until in the garden! haha

    We've also experimented with using human hair (I cut my partners hair at home) to deter deer, but it sounds like I might wanna try sprinkling that around the gopher holes.

    Thanks again! Lots of good ammo here! :)
  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin
    edited June 2018
    Honestly, Casey, the best thing we've found is our Buckeye chickens. They're serious predators, and since we brought them home a year ago, our rodent population has plummeted and most of the gopher holes in our backyard (fenced acre, which is also where our chickens range) have relocated outside the fence!

    Also, when you're starting a new raised bed, you can line the bottom of the raised bed with 1/4" to 1/2" galvanized concrete mesh cloth. You'll need  to wrap the mesh cloth around and attach it to the sides of your timbers. Be sure you incorporate the soil below the mesh and the soil you put in the bed to eliminate issues with soil texture interface. In a raised bed situation (at least 10-12" deep), that mesh cloth will help keep the gophers away.

    Good luck!
  • Riesah
    Riesah Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018

    When I came here 12 years ago I had no idea that the entire fenced-in yard sat over a  range of tunnels made by pocket gophers over the years. The so-called grassed area was entirely weed of many varieties and hadn't been tended for years. My husband wanted grass, so I pulled all the weeds by hand and hauled them to the dump in town. I had no experience with gophers before and learned slowly their habits, witnessed their dug up dirt piles that sat on the now growing grass. They didn't like that I'd removed the very things they most liked to eat: roots, especially of the tap root variety.

    I sat down and had a talk with them and told them they had the 2 acres of field as part of our place, as well as many acres adjacent to our land in which they could tunnel and feed. When they came into the yard, it was war. Before this, I'd tried to smoke them out, but hadn't a clue just how many exit holes they'd created. My neighbour came by to set a trap and what we saw down there was actually a weasel, natural predator of the gopher. Eventually, I bought a metal box trap, set up according to instructions with a fresh cut piece of potato to tempt them. When it was done right, and earlier in the season is best, 2 females were caught and killed. Around here people just shoot them, let their dogs on them, or trap them. No release. They return with their families, as do other rodents like mice.

    The last time I saw evidence of their work, I saw for the second time only a live gopher watching me from the side of my compost bin. Picking up my fork, I followed it intending to do harm, but it got away fast and never returned. Now the earth piles are in the field. This year for the first time I have deer bold enough to come into my fenced yard to eat from my garden plot. I will try the urine.
  • MikeF
    MikeF Posts: 35 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018
    We don't have gophers.  But we did have a family of chipmunks recently make a large home in our raspberry patch.  Some of the methods I used to fix this problem should work on your gophers.

    What we used:

    -repellent sprays with predator urine.

    -above ground, motion sensor light+sonic repellers

    -below ground sonic/vibration repellent spikes:

    -traps.  Both live catch and lethal traps.  Chipmunks are dumb and fall for nearly any trap.

    -mowing the tall grass that was nearby.  This reduced their hiding places, now a hawk is helping us hunt.  :)


    I don't imagine the traps or the above ground sonic repellent will work that well for your gophers.  But the in ground vibration spikes should keep them out of certain areas.  And the predator spray should amplify the fear effect of your cats hunting.



    +1 for the earlier suggestion of building your raised beds with a sheet of hardware cloth (metal mesh) at the bottom.



  • Anne Horn Platz
    Anne Horn Platz Posts: 1
    edited July 2018
    I wound up with several gophers on my property from the field across the road.  When I called the county extension office, they asked if I irrigated.  I replied that yes I did.  "Irrigate deep and often" was the answer.  So I did and golly gee!  No more gophers.  The other thing I did was have a neighbor come over and trap a couple.  So the last gopher I had I trapped right away and didn't have any more problems. I do NOT like poison as I have dogs and used to have a horse that grazed all around the property, so this was my way to not have to use gas or poisons.
  • apachebob9
    apachebob9 Posts: 2
    edited July 2018
    I planted an orange tree about 2 years old.  Then came the gophers.  Using new cloth gloves, I set washed gopher traps below ground in their exit tunnels.  As they pushed out more dirt, the body trap caught a great meal for my big male cat.  After 3 or 4 meals, my cat was trained.  The gophers on my property (and around the neighborhood) disappeared.  After all, the doo-doo birds became extinct...  My cat got fat.

  • RichardSchwartz
    RichardSchwartz Posts: 1
    edited July 2018
    Haven't tried this myself but it looks intriguing.  The equipment is somewhat expensive but for someone who wants a small local business it might be great. It's a propane /oxygen injector that fills their tunnels, then explodes it, killing them instantly and filling in the tunnels at the same time. Several companies make these including and  Rather than gophers we have a lot of mole hills and vole tunnels that make hay fields uneven in our region, but I imagine the principle works the same.
  • MikeF
    MikeF Posts: 35 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018
    I am a little hesitant about the rodentblaster, rodenator etc...   Kinda expect it to turn out like caddyshack:

  • John
    John Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018
    Hi, Have sorta small pocketgophers in this Rocky Mt. locale; likely  Thomomys bottae (Northern), and they dig shallow tunnels, 6-8 inches down. Tried many of the cures—ammonia; propane; car exhaust; camphor; assorted traps; electronic repellers (3 kinds—didn’t work); smoke bombs—most of which 'bombed', without much luck. And they avoided the traps a lot of the time—kinda like the Bill Murray movie. However, when putting in a deer/rabbits fence etc., after trenching out the garden perimeter with small Mantis tiller (9 inches wide by 12 inches deep), found the varmints outside the garden were stopped by the airspace which they didn't cross, nor apparently decided to dig under. After finally eliminating the ones within the garden area, the problem was handled. That's what happened here.