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Gopher Holes In The Yard – (What You Should Do)

gopher holes in yard

Gophers can be quite a nuisance to the yard and vegetation, creating multiple holes daily.

It is crucial to take immediate action if gopher holes appear in your yard to reduce damage to plants, trees, underground utility lines, and more.

After identifying that gophers are the problem, you can eliminate their crescent-shaped and unsightly holes.

By implementing the strategies mentioned below, you can deter or permanently remove gopher holes from your yard.

How To Identify Gopher Holes In The Yard

Before you determine how to eliminate unwanted subterranean pests, you must determine which creature made the hole.

Gophers, moles, and voles all use tunneling systems that create damage in your yard. Please note that physical characteristics can vary slightly depending on the species.

Correctly identifying the creature and hole lets you know the best strategies to eliminate them. The best way to identify a gopher hole in the yard is to look for a large, plugged, and uneven crescent shape or lopsided mound.

The following table can help you quickly determine if the hole is from a gopher, mole, or vole:


Physical Characteristics

Hole Characteristics


  • Rodent

  • 2 mouth pockets (pocket gophers)

  • Large incisors that continuously grow

  • Large, clawed paws

  • Flat head

  • 4 to 18 inches long

  • Eat vegetation, grass, clover, and more

  • Form a big pile of dirt that is lopsided (crescent or semi-circle shape)

  • Mound is approximately 12 to 20 inches in diameter

  • No ridge of dirt on the low side of the dirt pile

  • Gophers form the pile by coming up from under the ground at an angle, kicking and flinging dirt up and out

  • The hole is covered or plugged in for protection from predators.

  • Dirt tends to be a rough, chunky consistency


  • Not a rodent (Insectivora Mammalian)

  • Tiny eyes and no external ears

  • Elongated head and snout

  • Paddle-shaped feet with claws

  • Sharp teeth (typically a set of 44 teeth, which includes 12 incisors)

  • 4 to 7 inches long

  • Eat grubs, insects, and earthworms

  • Form a dirt pile of a fine sand-like consistency

  • Mound is approximately 2 inches in diameter

  • Mound is volcano-shaped, with an entry point at the top of the cone

  • Dirt is pushed in all directions from the high point

  • Form surface runways and deep tunnels from the hole


  • Rodent

  • Look like field mice with short tails and compact bodies

  • Incisors that continuously grow, orange-colored teeth

  • Enlarged forefeet with claws

  • 3 to 9 inches long

  • Eat grasses, plants, tubers, bulbs, and more

  • Dig visible quarter- to golf ball-sized exit holes with runs extending from them.

  • Holes remain open

  • May opportunistically use mole tunnels

Damage That Gophers Cause From Digging Holes

Unfortunately, hole-digging gophers can cause extensive property damage.

A single gopher can create several mounds daily, opting for loose and moist soil in lawns, gardens, and flower beds.

They create a tunnel system underground that leads to separate areas for nesting, feeding, food storage, and waste deposits.

The entire burrow system of a gopher can extend throughout an area from 200 to 2,000 square feet.

The main runway (hole) is about 4 to 18 inches below the surface. Tunnels are about 3 inches wide and can lead to areas as deep as 6 feet down.

A gopher’s habitat in your yard can cause the following damages:

  • Broken underground water lines and sprinkler systems
  • Chewed underground electrical wiring and other utility lines
  • Weakened, destroyed, or dead root systems of trees, shrubs, and vines
  • Uneven topsoil and surface level of the yard
  • Sinkholes and pooling water
  • Fall hazards for people walking in the yard
  • Disruption of natural irrigation and drainage
  • Erosion
  • Dug up and eaten vegetable and flower gardens
  • Consumed bulbs and tubers
  • Torn up grass
  • Uprooted plants

What to Do About Gopher Holes in the Yard

After you have identified that gophers are the culprit behind the damage and hole digging, you can take steps to eliminate them properly.

While some try tunnel-flooding and fumigation tactics, they can be short-lived and ineffective deterrents. Traps, repellents, barriers, and poison are more effective.

1. Make Your Yard Undesirable

Making your yard undesirable to gophers can be challenging if you have an inviting yard full of luscious vegetation.

Try the following:

  • Plant undesirables: Plant items such as marigolds, yarrow, and lavender are not typically consumed by gophers.
  • Remove hiding spots: Keep the lawn mowed short, and remove any piles of debris where they might hide.
  • Use raised garden beds: Consider using raised garden beds to keep gophers away from your plants’ roots.

Even when you strive to make your yard undesirable to gophers, they may still make their way into it. Often repellents, traps, barriers, or poison are needed as well.

2. Use Repellents

Apply Castor Oil

A natural repellent such as castor oil will not kill a gopher but will create an offensive odor and upset its stomach if consumed.

Mix 4 tablespoons of castor oil, ½ cup baking soda, and one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent.

Unplug the hole by removing the dirt from the lower side of the gopher hole, and pour the mixture into the hole.

Spray Predator Urine

Predator urine spray can be used to keep gophers away and to read product use and precautions.

Use Ultrasonic Devices

Purchase commercial ultrasonic devices (such as spikes) designed to deter gophers. These create underground noises and vibrations to help keep them at bay.

3. Create Barriers

Since gophers like loose and moist soil, a layer of rigid material can help deter gophers from digging in the yard.

This can consist of gravel, planting baskets, or hardware cloth (mesh) underneath the topsoil.

These “tools” should be buried a few inches down. However, they should be loose enough for plants’ roots to grow.

Conversely, you can dig a trench around the area, filling it with gravel or lining it with hardware cloth.

You can also install fencing around vegetable gardens or your entire yard. The fencing should be buried at least 8 feet deep to keep gophers from tunneling underneath.

4. Trap Gophers

Several effective traps allow you to remove gophers from your property. Different styles require excavating or using bait or poison to lure them in.

Some traps do not use bait but have trip wires or noose-like contraptions, while others are designed for trap and release.

5. Use Poison

Commercial products come in liquid, grain, and pellet forms that poison gophers when consumed.

Ensure you follow instructional use and keep these away from pets and children. Typically, these are applied underground, where the gophers burrow.

Keep in mind that predators of gophers, such as owls, weasels, foxes, and even domesticated dogs, will also be poisoned if they eat a poisoned gopher.

You must responsibly remove deceased gophers to protect other wildlife.

6. Get Professional Help

If the gopher situation is out of control, despite your best attempts, it may be time to call in a professional exterminator for help.

They can assess the situation and give you the best plan of action for current and the prevention of future issues.


Gophers holes in your yard can be a big hassle!

Thankfully, you can address the situation using a variety of methods. These include making your yard undesirable with repellents, traps, and more.

Natural deterrents such as castor oil and physical barriers are great options to try at first.

Take care to follow all precautions to prevent injury or death to other wildlife, pets, and people when you employ methods using commercial products.

For persistent issues, contact a professional exterminator.

You’ll know the gopher is gone if you unplug the hole and it remains uncovered after a few days.

Effectively deterring or eliminating gophers makes your yard a safer place to walk with healthy, thriving vegetation for you to enjoy.