Gophers: How to Keep Them Out of Your Garden

Gardening can be a delightful and rewarding experience, but it's frustrating when gophers invade in garden and wreak havoc on plants. Gophers are small rodents that burrow underground and feast on plant roots, causing extensive damage. However, there are effective strategies to keep these pesky creatures out of garden. By understanding gopher behavior and implementing preventative measures it is possible to create a gopher-free haven for your plants to flourish.

Gopher eating carrot

Quick Summary

What is a gopher?
They are a burrowing, solitary rodent that is found typically in sandy or loamy soils that help with soil construction and digging.

How do Gophers Impact Gardens
They can dig holes in garden beds, eat plants and plant roots, and disrupt germination.

How to Protect Gardens
Physical barriers such as gopher wire can act as a physical barrier to protect gardens. There are also certain plants that help repel gophers, as well as professional services to help eliminate gophers in your garden.

Understanding Gophers


  • Burrowing: Gophers are adept diggers who live in complex tunnel systems. These burrows provide shelter, food storage, and nesting. Gophers build hundreds-foot-long tunnel networks. These tunnels differ by species and environment.
  • Solitary Nature: Gophers live alone. Gophers rarely share burrows. This decreases resource competition and maintains territorial boundaries.
  • Feeding Habits: Gophers consume plants. They eat roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, and occasionally above-ground vegetation. They can consume a lot of plant matter due to their insatiable desire. Gophers keep surplus food in their burrows.
  • Nocturnal Activity: Most gophers are nocturnal. They hunt at night to avoid predators. However, some species exhibit diurnal or crepuscular activity patterns.
  • Territorial Behavior: Gophers are territorial. Scent markers and tunnel pathways mark their territories. Gophers from neighboring territories may chase and fight.


  • Subterranean Dwellers: Gophers live underground and prefer well-drained soils. They prefer grasslands, prairies, agricultural areas, meadows, and open forests. Burrowing aerates soil and cycles nutrients, benefiting the environment.
  • Geographic Range: From Canada to Mexico, gophers live in many ecosystems. Gopher species live in specific regions, adapting to local conditions.
  • Burrow Structure: Gopher burrows have chambers and tunnels. The main tunnel, or "runway," is deeper. To avoid predators and environmental conditions, it is often buried several inches. Gophers build lateral tunnels to feed, nest, and store.
  • Mound Formation: Gophers excavate dirt to form characteristic mounds. Species-specific crescent-shaped mounds vary in size. Gophers block predators from entering their tunnels with earth.
  • Preferred Soil Types: Gophers prefer easily excavated sandy, loamy, or well-drained soils. These soils make tunnel construction and maintenance easy. They can tolerate clay and rocky soils.

How Gophers Impact Gardens

  • Burrowing: Gophers dig intricate underground tunnels. Their digging damages plant roots, causing wilting, stunted growth, or death in gardens. Gophers can disrupt soil structure, which can harm the garden.
  • Feeding: Gophers eat plants roots, bulbs, and underground sections in gardens. This can ruin crops, flowers, and ornamentals.
  • Soil Disruption: Gophers' burrowing can disturb garden soil and create tripping hazards. Gopher mounds or hills, caused by their tunneling, can ruin a garden's appearance.
  • Plant Diversity: Gophers may favor certain plants for food. Gophers may eat or damage specific plants, reducing the garden's biodiversity and environment.
  • Planting Challenges: Gophers complicate gardening. Their burrowing can disrupt newly planted seeds and seedlings, making them hard to flourish. Protecting plants against gophers may need preventative measures or barriers.
Gopher looking over grass

Gopher Standing in Grass


Preventive measures to keep gophers out of gardens

  • Physical Barriers: Physical obstacles can deter gophers from gardens. Alternatively, bury gopher wire mesh or hardware cloth vertically around the garden at least one foot below the soil. This keeps gophers out.
  • Geotextile Fabrics: Gophers can pose a significant challenge to gardeners, as their burrowing habits and tunneling activities can inflict damage to plants and root systems. Employing geotextile fabrics, in conjunction with other proven strategies, can effectively mitigate gopher intrusion in your garden.
  • Raised Garden Beds: Raised Garden beds make gopher access harder. Stone, wood, or metal beds can keep gophers from plant roots. To prevent gophers from entering the raised bed, line the bottom with hardware cloth or mesh.
  • Gopher-Proof Fencing: Gopher-proof fencing helps protect the garden. Wire mesh with 3/4-inch apertures prevents gophers from tunneling through or jumping over the fence. To discourage gophers, extend the barrier underground.
  • Plant Selection: Selecting gopher-resistant plants reduces damage. Selecting plants that gophers dislike can deter them. Ask local gardening professionals about gopher-resistant plant kinds.
  • Repellents: Castor oil-based repellents help prevent gophers in the garden. Gophers avoid these repellents because they smell bad. Apply and reapply repellent as directed.
  • Vibrating or Ultrasonic Devices: Ultrasonic or vibrating gadgets scare gophers. These devices can be set around the garden to make gophers uncomfortable. Use gopher-deterring devices, as their effectiveness may vary.

Heavy-Duty Gopher Wire Mesh

Looking to keep gophers from your lawn or landscape area? Installing gopher wire mesh under your lawn or garden bed is the most effective your solution. Gopher Block is specifically designed for protection against gophers and is engineered for maximum in-ground longevity. Both our galvanized steel and stainless steel options last for years when buried in some of the harshest soils. Installing gopher wire is the most effective and humane way to deter gophers from your landscape and lawn areas.

View Gopher Wire Mesh

How to Design a Gopher-Proof Garden

  • Raised Beds: Build stone, wood, or metal elevated garden beds. To prevent gophers from entering the beds, line the bottom with hardware cloth or mesh.
  • Install Underground Barriers: Bury gopher wire mesh below the areas of your landscape or lawn that you are trying to protect.
  • Gopher-Proof Fencing: Install gopher-proof fencing around the garden using wire mesh with small openings (typically 3/4 inch or less). Ensure the fence extends above and below ground to deter gophers from climbing over or burrowing through.
  • Select Gopher-Resistant Plants: Choose plants that are known to be less attractive to gophers. Research gopher-resistant plant varieties or consult with local gardening experts to identify suitable options for your area.
Young Gopher in Sun

Gopher Climbing Out of Hole

How to Make Gardens Unattractive to Gophers

  • Plant Selection: Select gopher-repellent plants. Selecting gopher-unfriendly plants can deter them from the garden.
  • Create Barriers: Install wire mesh or hardware cloth around sensitive garden areas. Gophers can tunnel under obstacles, so bury them at least one foot deep. Deterrent and root protection.
  • Amend Soil: Improve soil drainage and reduce moisture retention, as gophers are attracted to moist soil. Incorporate organic matter and amend the soil to create a well-draining environment that is less attractive to gophers.
  • Garden Maintenance: Keep the garden area well-maintained by regularly weeding, pruning, and trimming plants. Gophers are less likely to be attracted to an environment that is neat and tidy.
  • Natural Deterrents: Use natural deterrents such as castor oil-based products or plants with strong scents that gophers find unpleasant. These can be applied or planted strategically to discourage gopher activity in the garden.
  • Regular Monitoring: Stay vigilant and regularly inspect the garden for signs of gopher activity, such as fresh mounds or chewed plants. Promptly address any gopher presence to minimize potential damage.

Repellents and Deterrents

Gopher repellents have strong odors or tastes that gophers find unpleasant. Some types of gopher repellents include:

  • Castor oil-based repellents: Castor oil repels gophers. It deters gophers when applied to soil or around gardens.
  • Predator urine: Gophers' innate tendency to avoid predators is used with predator urine repellents like coyote or fox. This urine can repel gophers when sprayed near their tunnels.
  • Plant-based repellents: Due to its poisonous chemicals or strong aroma, gopher spurge (Euphorbia lathyris) repels gophers. Protect your garden by strategically planting repellant plants.

Gopher deterrents make your landscape unpleasant to gophers, preventing them from tunneling. Gopher repellents include:

  • Vibrating devices: Vibrating devices disturb gophers' habitat and make them uncomfortable. These gadgets can deter gophers near activity areas or tunnel entrances.
  • Burrowing barriers: Gophers can be stopped via underground barriers. Geotextile fabrics, wire mesh, or hardware cloth buried at least 2 feet deep around the garden can deter gophers.

Geotextile fabrics: Geotextile textiles prevent gophers from burrowing and entering your vegetation. Geotextile fabric considerations:

  • Selecting a durable and thick geotextile fabric to withstand gophers' digging attempts effectively.
  • Excavating a trench around the garden area and securely lining it with the fabric, ensuring it extends vertically above ground level to prevent tunneling underneath.
  • Backfilling the trench with soil while maintaining a secure placement of the fabric.
  • Planting your garden within the protected area, confident that the geotextile fabric provides
  • Extending the geotextile fabric vertically above ground level ensures that gophers cannot tunnel underneath it. This further strengthens the barrier and effectively blocks gophers' access to your garden.

Effectiveness of Repellents and Deterrents and Factors that may Affect their Success

  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors can affect repellents and deterrents. Rain and irrigation can dilute repellents. Strong winds can also scatter repellant scents, reducing their effectiveness. Consider local weather patterns while applying these strategies.
  • Persistence and adaptability: Gophers adapt to repellents and deterrents over time. They may get used to the smells or sounds and keep going.
  • Garden size and layout: Repellants and deterrents depend on garden size and arrangement. Larger gardens may need more repellents or gadgets. Ensure complete coverage because gophers may use alternative access points or exploit deterrent gaps.
  • Monitoring and adaptability: Repellants and deterrents must be monitored in your garden. Adjust your management tactics based on gopher activity, such as fresh mounds or plant damage. Long-term success requires adaptability and willingness to change strategies based on results.

Trapping and Removal

Spring-Loaded Gopher Traps

Spring-loaded traps consist of a metal frame with strong springs and triggering mechanisms. These traps are placed inside active gopher tunnels, specifically in the main tunnel or lateral tunnels leading to the burrows.

To use a Spring-Loaded Gopher Trap:

  • Locate an active tunnel by identifying fresh mounds or gopher activity.
  • Dig a trench in the tunnel and set the trap according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Cover the hole with soil, leaving only the trigger mechanism exposed.
  • Gently press the soil around the trap to secure it in place.
  • The trap will be triggered when a gopher passes through, effectively catching and killing it.
Gopher looking out of hole

Gopher Climbing Out of Hole

Tunnel Traps

Tunnel traps are effective at trapping gophers as they travel through their burrow system. There are various types of tunnel traps available, including choker loop traps and box traps.

  • Locate an active tunnel by identifying gopher activity or fresh mounds.
  • Insert the tunnel trap vertically into the tunnel until it is secure.
  • Set the trap according to the manufacturer's instructions, ensuring it is properly triggered.
  • Cover the hole around the trap to create a dark and enclosed environment, which entices the gopher to investigate and get caught in the trap.
Gopher in Sun

Gopher Looking for Food

Live Traps

Live traps are humane options for capturing gophers alive, allowing for their safe relocation. These traps are typically wire mesh cages with a triggered door mechanism.

To use a Live Trap:

  • Identify an active tunnel or a suitable location where gophers frequently travel.
  • Set up the live trap near the entrance of the tunnel or in the path of gopher activity.
  • Bait the trap with a preferred food source for gophers, such as fresh vegetables or fruits.
  • Ensure the trap door is properly triggered and secured.
  • Check the trap regularly, and once a gopher is captured, safely relocate it to a suitable habitat away from the garden or property.

How to Safely Remove Trapped Gophers from Gardens

  • Approach with Caution: To avoid injuring yourself and the gopher, handle traps with captured gophers gently. Slowly approach the trap to prevent startling or agitating the gopher.
  • Wear Protective Gloves: Wear gloves before handling the trap to avoid gopher bites and scratches.
  • Assess the Gopher's Condition: Examine the trapped gopher. Make sure it's captured and safe.
  • Relocation to a Suitable Habitat: Choose a spot to relocate the gopher after assessing its health. Choose a safe spot away from the garden.
  • Release the Gopher: Open the trap door or release mechanism to free the gopher. Open it away from yourself to avoid gopher damage.
  • Clean and Disinfect Traps: After removing the gopher, sanitize the trap before reusing it.

Professional Services

Gopher control experts will analyze the infestation to determine its intensity and cause. They can personalize solutions to your needs and property based on their findings. Professionals use several reliable gopher control strategies. Trapping, baiting, fumigation, or a combination are possible. They have specialized tools that householders may not have.

Gopher control companies know local wildlife management and trapping laws. These standards provide lawful and humane control measures. Gopher control experts put safety first. To reduce gopher trapping, handling, and relocation dangers, they use PPE and safe handling practices.

What to Expect from a Professional Service

  • Initial Assessment: A gopher technician will inspect your property. They'll investigate the impacted regions, find gopher activity, and decide what to do.
  • Customized Treatment Plan: After assessing your demands and property, the skilled service will create a customized treatment plan. Trapping, baiting, and other control methods may be used.
  • Implementation of Control Methods: Professionals will implement the treatment plan utilizing the best control measures. They will strategically place traps or bait to target gopher activity and minimize damage on non-target species.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Wildlife management and trapping professionals follow local laws. They will ensure legal, humane, and lawful control measures.
  • Communication and Education: Professionals will advise you on gopher control, including prevention and reducing future infestations. They may suggest habitat change, exclusion, or landscaping.
  • Professionalism and Safety: Gopher control companies prioritize professionalism, safety, and client satisfaction. Their specialists are educated in safe handling and equipped with tools and PPE to protect themselves and your property.
  • Cost and Service Agreement: Professional gopher control costs depend on property size, infestation intensity, and services. A trustworthy firm will provide a detailed service agreement specifying the work and charges.
Gopher Mound in Yard

Gopher Mound of Dirt in Yard

Benefits and Drawbacks of Professional Services


  • Expertise and Experience: Professionals manage gopher populations. They know gopher behavior and the best control measures, improving eradication prospects.
  • Customized Solutions: Professionals personalize treatment plans to your needs and property. They assess the infestation and target control actions to maximize effectiveness.
  • Time and Effort Savings: Professional gopher control saves time and work. They handle everything from assessment to treatment, letting you focus on other things.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Professionals know local gopher control laws. They comply utilizing lawful and compassionate procedures that protect gophers and the environment.
  • Long-Term Solutions: Professionals focus on long-term gopher management. They treat the infestation and advice on gopher prevention.


  • Cost: Gopher control professionals charge. Infestation severity and property size can affect cost. Before hiring a professional, consider budget.
  • Availability and Scheduling: Appointments may take time depending on local professional service demand. Book services in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Lack of Immediate Results: Professional control procedures may not eradicate immediately. Treatments may take time to work, needing patience and service provider cooperation.
  • Potential for Recurrence: After treatment, gophers may reappear. Professional services reduce danger, but prevention and vigilance are essential.


In conclusion, dealing with gophers invading your garden can be a frustrating challenge, but there are effective strategies to keep them at bay and protect your plants. By understanding gopher behavior and implementing preventive measures, you can create a gopher-free haven for your garden to thrive. Physical barriers, such as gopher-proof fencing and raised garden beds, can be effective in keeping gophers out. Selecting gopher-resistant plants, using repellents, and employing vibrating or ultrasonic devices can also deter gophers from your garden.