How to Get Rid of Gophers

Gophers can cause damage to plants and underground structures. Here’s how to get rid of them in a humane way.

how to get rid of gohphersValerii Shkliaev/Shutterstock

Gophers may be cute and cuddly looking. They may even be a treasured team mascot. But they’re not treasured around the home and garden, where they can cause plenty of damage and destruction to plants and underground structures. Just one gopher can dig dozens of holes and an extensive series of tunnels looking for roots and plants to eat. These tunnels are unsightly and potentially dangerous to anyone walking above them. Furthermore, gophers may end up chewing on plastic water and drain pipes, causing damage there as well.

Take a tip from Bill Murray’s groundskeeper character in the movie “Caddyshack” on what NOT to do to get rid of gophers. Pumping water into gopher holes doesn’t work, as gophers can retreat to higher ground. Same with running exhaust fumes into the tunnels—gophers can escape until the gases dissipate.

How to get rid of gophers humanely

So what does help to get rid of gophers? Trapping is one method. Bait a large humane trap such as Havahart with fruit or vegetables. Set it up near the entrance to the gopher tunnel and wait. Within a few days, you should have your captive. Gophers are mostly solitary, so catching one may solve your problem. Simply take it several miles away from your property and release it in the wild, being careful to wear protective clothing and quickly stepping back and out of the way when releasing the trap.

Another way to get rid of gophers is to spread a repellent. Most gopher repellents contain castor oil and some have predator urine as well. Repellents typically work on both gophers and moles (another tunneling pest). Spread the repellent according to package directions. If you have a large yard, you may be instructed to treat one portion of the yard at a time, then wait a few days before following up on an untreated area. Smaller yards can be done all at once. Remember, though, spreading repellent may just chase the gopher into your neighbor’s yard.

There are poisons available, but some municipalities prohibit the killing of gophers. And there is also concern about accidentally poisoning children, pets or even scavenger animals that eat the poisoned gopher. To protect valuable plants or garden beds, you can install a barrier of hardware cloth, making sure it is buried at least 12 inches below ground to prevent tunneling.

These are our best tips for humane pest control for critter-proof gardens and planters.

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Buy a Havahart trap now on Amazon.

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Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.