Gophers and baby trees (what do you think of this idea?) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi folks,

I will be planting my new orchard (12 trees so far) at my country place. The problem is that the area is LOADED with gophers. We picked up a couple of pieces of plywood yesterday and saw three. Two established trees in the area have been halfway ringed by gophers just below the surface.

Also, something has gnawed the bark off the limbs we pruned from an old apple tree to a height of about a foot above the ground. Would that be gophers or rabbits or ?

I have read the archive entries about gophers, and they didn't seem as though they'd work quickly enough for my purposes. (I have to get the trees in the ground within the next two weeks.)

So I had another idea. As long as we're digging the holes anyway, to protect my new little trees (mostly bare-root) I thought I'd use 1/4-inch hardware cloth two feet wide, wrap it to make a tube 1 foot in diameter, and plant that 1 foot deep around the root ball of the tree. The wire would then extend from 1 foot above the ground to 1 foot below the ground.

Do you think this would stop the gophers? Any cons? If this is a bad idea, do you have any other suggestions, keeping in mind that I only get up there once every week or two and there seem to be about a MILLION gophers?

Thanks in advance for any help. It's so cool to have voices of experience so accessible!

-- Laura Jensen (, February 12, 2001


Yes, hardware cloth works, but....go with a larger grid and be more generous with the space inside the wire. My grandpa used real heavy chicken wire and lined the entire planting whole with it, then wrapped the tree trunks with tree wrap.

When planting trees, remember to dig a $30 hole for a $3 tree.

-- Laura (, February 12, 2001.

We have a brigade of gophers in our area too. Everyone here also uses chicken wire with great success. The holes around the base of the other trees could also be cause by ground squirrels, also very destructive. I would definitely line the holes with the chicken wire, the gophers will eat the roots of your little trees and they will be dead in no time.

-- cindy palmer (, February 12, 2001.

There was a tip in this issue of Countryside about pouring used kitty litter down gopher holes. I'm going to try it on the mole tunnels. I just lately got house cats, 3 now.

-- Cindy in Ky (, February 13, 2001.

My experience with gophers is that they stay underground and do their damage there. If they are hiding under wood and other surface trash, it sounds like wood rats. They look alot alike, stubby bodies, short snout, not at all like a Norwegian rat. They can be trapped or hunted with a good rat dog. The damage on the trees sounds like rabbits or squirrels. Try a little Tanglefoot on the trunks. The wire also sounds like a good idea, provided you don't make it too tight around the trunk-leave room for growth.

-- melina b. (, February 13, 2001.

Here in the Pacific N.W. we also have mountain beavers that cause a lot of damage. Someone told me that is what is tearing up my yard, not gophers, moles, voles or woodrats. I have yet to personally meet one face to face. I have 4 cats that are great hunters and they haven't been able to catch any, either. The battle continues......

-- Laura (, February 13, 2001.

Oh, I had mature fruit trees that fell over because the gophers ate the roots!! I tried every trap a person could find, poison, gas, and nothing worked at all!! Until the neighbor got a cat. He cleared out the gophers within a months or so and he keeps them gone! Forget the kitty litter and go for the real thing. A good cat is worth everthing he costs!


-- lynne (, February 19, 2001.

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