Punxsutawney Phil’s verdict from this Groundhog Day was six more weeks of winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to give his cousin, the gopher, six more weeks in your yard. Though gophers may look like cute and innocent critters, they can create mounds of destruction in your landscaping. Not only are the holes and heaps unsightly, but they also form tripping hazards. Follow these proactive solutions to help prevent these pesky rodents from invading and destroying your property before they have the chance.

It’s important to note the difference between gophers and moles. Gophers are rummaging for roots and plants within your landscaping, while moles are searching for grubs or earthworms within the soil. Gophers forge pits and piles as well as underground channels, while moles burrow shallower tunnels that pillow on top of the land. Getting rid of them though requires the same action… remove their food source.

There are several tactics you can use in your arsenal against gopher invasion, but the first would be to eliminate the main reason for digging, their food supply. These ground creatures will weasel their way into your dirt to munch on moisture-rich roots and vegetables. Extract their favorite snacks and replace them with plants that are naturally repellent to gophers like rosemary, strawberries, and lavender. When it comes to moles the best way to rid them from your yard is to remove the grubs and bugs they like to eat, this can be accomplished with a systemic insecticide such as Aloft.

Once you’ve closed their favorite outdoor restaurant, you can start defending the soil with fences and barriers. Installing galvanized mesh or chicken wire around the perimeter of your lawn or garden. This will need to be placed several feet into the ground as well as above it. Then implant gopher wire under your lawn and around your plants. This can be a big undertaking if you have a large lawn, but it will be worth years of gopher threat protection! Gopher baskets can be bought at your local hardware store and will create a barrier around your plants and trees. The best time to install gopher baskets is when you first install your plants and trees, adding it to existing plants can be done but it is typically less effective and can damage the root systems.

If these rodent miners have already invaded your landscaping, making their home unpleasant will help push them out. Fill their holes with deterrents like peppermint oil, garlic stakes, chili powder or pine disinfectants. Gophers can be sensitive to sound, so loud noises like a radio or windchimes can send them packing. Additionally, ultrasonic vibrations can be enough to annoy and cause them to flee. Ultrasonic devices are available in battery or solar powered and can be placed directly on top of their underground lair. Start with a tunnel opening in the corner of your property and then over the next few days work your way across to the other side.

Many pest control companies use poison or bait stations to solve gopher invasions, but I would advise against this due to the possible secondary kills to our local wildlife and house pets. The proactive approach using gopher wire and baskets is always best, however, if you find yourself in a dire situation, calling in the professionals may be your only option. Opt for trapping over baiting to lessen the environmental impact.

A gopher problem is known to be a persistent one, so once you’ve cleared out the last of them, make sure they don’t come back by following all of these steps! Level out their knolls, fill their holes and take back your landscaping!