Moles : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

We have moles. Well, in last summer we had moles, and I guess as it warms up, they'll be coming back soon.

I don't want to put out poison, or trap them especially, I don't really care about the lawn out the back, but, if they start eating my veges that I'm about to start planting (from seed, an adventure!), I'm going to be not happy.

I've heard that if you plant oniony/garlicky things around the things you don't want them to eat, this will deter the moles, as they don't like the oniony garlicky things.

We're going to plant spring onions (that's green onions or scallions) and chives around, with some marigolds (I hear tomatoes respond well to marigolds).

Anyone heard anything about this, or got any ideas?

(One of my relatives suggested I let my cats out at night to do away with the moles, but a) I don't like my cats killing animals especially, and b) I don't let my cats out at night so they don't get lost/run over.)

-- Amanda Page (, March 27, 1999


I don't have moles or gophers (yet), but I'll pass this along because we stumbled across this info.

There is a plant called euphorbia lathyris ("gopher's bane" or "mole bane"), related to pointsettias and a whole host of succulents. Legend has it (no documented evidence) that planting it will drive away your moles and gophers. It could be true -- the stems emit a caustic juice that can burn the hell out of your hand.

We have three of these because two came up volunteer in some plants we got from my sister, and I bought the third for comparison after finding it at Home Depot for about a buck. We had spent a year or so wondering what those weird things were coming up in our pots.

It appears to be fairly cold hardy, so if you can get your hands on it, you might give it a try.

For what it's worth, I've heard that one solution to gophers is to run water into their little holes. I think it's rather mean, but then I don't have gophers stealing my lilies.

-- Xeney (, March 30, 1999.

I got the information from the Sunset Garden Book, not from an online source. It doesn't say how far apart to space them, but it does say they grow on a single stem and get to be as tall as 5 feet! The ones we have do have some side shoots sprouting. The leaves grow something like a lily.

By the way, you can do quite a lot with California hard pan if you amend the soil with compost. My mother has a beautiful garden, and her ground is so hard and full of clay that it wouldn't even make dust if she didn't amend it!

-- Beth (, April 02, 1999.

We have those confounded critters as well.. and I do care about the full acre lot (big dreams for our yard). Anyway, I was thinking that the root systems of onion/garlic-ie things my not grow deep enough to deter them. See, we are in the process of digging a pond. It is at a little over 3 feet in depth and that is when I discovered the remarkable tunnel depths of these animals (at least in California). They've managed to come through the side walls (as we are halted on construction for a month or so longer), tunneling right through at least two feet below ground level.

So, logically speaking, the moles could tunnel right under the onion/garlic plants and upward into the actual fruits of their labor (your garden from seeds) without realizing the barrier you set for them.

Our pond efforts will require liners and concrete which is a whole 'nudder story.. but what people have told me around here is to use a tight meshed chicken wire for the bottom and sides of a veggie garden. This might mean digging out a two foot deep trench and lining the bottom and sides with the wire then returning the soil/compost/planting mix for your garden before planting.

Now I've been told the rascals don't come above ground but to chomp and chew vegetation close to their hole but don't believe that either. My husband has found several above ground. They may have been sick/dying and that is why they ventured out of their tunnels but I don't plan on taking any chances with my garden.. I'm putting a slightly higher wall around the veggie/other gardens with flagstones (on the decorative sites) or brick just so the critters don't hobble over my chicken wire wall at the soil's level and then into the garden to tunnel back down. ;-)

I'll be checking back on this thread for sure though since I've never had to deal with gophers/moles before now and I haven't a clue if anything works short of a concrete wall three feet deep around the circumference of the property and then gassin' the ones trapped inside of our property. (Hey, I hate killin em too.. Gopher Rambo, I'm not!!)


-- Lisa (, March 29, 1999.

Okay, last night I was reading through the 'Sunset Western Garden Problem Solver', ostensibly to confirm that the revolting gelatinous eggs in my strawberry pot were in fact snail eggs, and I wasn't being hysterical, when I decided to see what it said about moles. Supposedly, they are attracted by well-irrigated, fluffy, organic soil (so if you have them, you have good soil! not that you can really do anything with it, but still...). This may be why I haven't ever seen them, in our rock-hard clay valley soil. Anyway, they suggest surrounding your yard with a fence of hardware cloth or chicken wire, 1 ft above ground and buried 3-4 feet below. Or, line raised beds with the fencing to keep them from tunneling up (and the plant roots could still grow through). Basically, surrounding the roots of plants you want to protect with wire, and laying a layer of wire mesh 8-12 inches below the surface in new beds if moles are common. For actually getting rid of them, they say trapping is the best method.

-- Ashley Lockwood (, March 31, 1999.

We have hard-pan, horrific California soil.. so I guess the gophers must have mutated into rodents with Freddy Krugar Klaws. ;-) Well, I guess it is good soil for growing hardy California indigenous plants but I'll surely be struggling to try growing the beautiful dogwood trees I adore so from my childhood back on the east coast.

Ah well... I went to to look up euphorbia lathyris (thanks Beth!) and I will also have to look up the deal on "hardware cloth" (thanks Ashley!) since I've never heard of it and wonder how long it lasts.

I don't know the life span of chicken wire (or hardware cloth), which won't matter so much on a seasonal garden as it will be easily replaced, but darned if I don't want to find some way to be rid of gophers on the entire acre and there is so little feasible by way of labor and cost for keeping them out of that much space.

They are cute, furry little critters but I can't afford to replace plant/bulb/veggie/s for the number of critters chewing and tunneling up our land.

Hey Beth, did you find that euphorbia lathyris info online? I was curious just how many / and how to space/align / etc. I'd need to protect the mini-rooms and other garden areas I'm designing for our back yard. If gopher holes where land mines only a size 5 foot could wander about safely around the majority our back yard. It really bites!

Thanks again for the info in this thread. Mucho thanks to Beth for starting her Garden Report .. and for this community section !!! :-)

-- Lisa (, April 02, 1999.

Cool! I will head off and look for that plant in the local Home Depot/ other nurseries. I like the look/idea of a raised bed, so I think we shall combine that with some kind of hardware cloth/mesh deal, once we dig up the soil.

Yes, I agree, I think this is a fab idea, the message board, real life experience is always a good thing. And I'd so much rather find ways around the moles than trapping them and/or killing them.


-- Amanda Page (, April 02, 1999.

I have ordered several "euphorbia lathyris" genre plants locally and as soon as they are available I intend to plant them in "non-design" gardening areas of the yard (close to the house) where gophers n'ver fear to tread...

The gophers have popped-up in multi-tunneled holes at certain places close to the house I've not yet attempted to garden so I suspect their multitude in these areas (where I shiver to tender) will be an excellent test for the plant/s mythological ability when they arrive.

I'll be sure to post back here if I can find the "euphorbia lathyris" plants have actually deterred activity in "said" area/s......

I know, I know, I claim not to be a 'Gopher Rambo' (and I swear I'm not, attested by me begging hubbs not to behead the one found above ground one day when he insisted that it "had to be done" thus he sent me "inside" so he could do the task apart from my childish "mouse- pet" lover childhood persona).

Still I seem to come across like a "Charleton Heston on GUNS advocate" against gophers... sheesh... I don't wanna kill them... I want them to move to someone else's yard, but not anyone's yard who might trap an' kill em, but someone's yard who don't give a d*amn.

I've got lots of neighbors who never mow and seem to love and adore the weed-abundant front/back yard... and if they don't perceive such threats from gophers as I do for my own yard at least they might be "someone else who can either capture and tame them for the good of veggie-kind/humans everywhere or convince them that Alaska is a much better rompin' stompin' chompin' ground than my own backyard."

If you want to know the biggest dilemma me thinks we gardeners face in this world I can tell you what I think it is... "Balance"

We want to grow for food and for beauty and we realize their is a major food chain order indigenious to the survival of the world.. but, uh, where do we draw the line? Snakes, gophers, bees, butterflies, birds...

I will never kill a snake in my yard- since they eat gophers... I will never kill a bee- since they impregnate other plants... I try not to kill spiders- since some birds need spiders for food... but I don't care very much for any of these critters (gophers, snakes, or spiders) while I can't deny my husband will kill any such critters who cross his path just cause he simply hates spiders and snakes, and gophers- who make his lawn mowing experience a back-breaking nightmare.

Yeah, so any number can wreck my garden, I know, but they also help my garden. I guess the one I worry about most is gophers.

Tell me I'm weird. Then tell me something I don't know. ;-)

I'll let you know if the "euphorbia lathyris" myth has helped us.


-- Lisa (, April 03, 1999.

I don't know if either one of these will work for moles (or if you particularly want to try them) but here is what I've been told. The first method was told to my father after a scary-mean badger took up residence under their porch. The trapper they called told them to put a dish of chocolate ex-lax out for the animal. My parents asked the man if this would kill the animal, and he told the he didn't know if it would do that or if it would just give them the "this is the place that makes you sick willies" and decide to move on to another place. My parents tried it, the badger was not seen again, and no carcass was ever found. Ew. The second method for protecting your garden was told to me by an old Korean woman named Michi. She gets all the trimmed off hair from the local beauty parlor and scatters it around the parameter of her garden. The animals smell people and they don't disturb the garden. My father has used the hose in the mole hole trick too. I guess it works, but ew.

-- Kat (, November 21, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ