Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Deal with Moles in Your Yard

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Molehill in a yard.

Telltale cracked earth of a molehill in a yard.

We have tried every product we could find to get rid of moles in our yard – and just when I think I’ve solved the problem, they come back with a vengeance. What can I do? -Theresa

Just when you think you’ve gotten your yard to the pinnacle of neatness, here comes a pesky mole to turn your lawn into a superhighway!

Unfortunately, we gardeners are excellent mole-magnets: our tilling, mulching, and watering create a virtual paradise for these burrowing critters who love nothing more than a nice, moist, earthworm-rich hunting ground.

About Moles

Here are some facts about our furry mole friends (or enemies):

  • Moles Are Insect Eaters: A typical 5-6 ounce mole can eat as much as 50 pounds of bugs and worms in a year. Among their diet: beetles, earthworms, and lawn-destroying grubs. If you can stand them, they’re excellent natural insectivores.
  • Mole on ground

    Mole (Photo courtesy of Gábor Palla)

  • Moles Are Loners: The average acre of land usually supports only 2-3 moles.
  • Moles Are Natural Aerators: Moles live and breed in deep runways and burrows underground, digging upward of 20 feet per hour! Their highway system branches off into surface runways for feeding; these are the telltale “molehills” you see in your yard. While the surface burrows can damage lawns, overall moles are beneficial by aerating, mixing, and loosening the soil.
  • Mole Damage: Contrary to popular opinion, moles don’t eat your plants. However, their surface tunnels can disturb plant roots, which can cause distress. In lawns, molehills make walking and mowing difficult and sometimes damages the grass. And, their tunnels can be hijacked by voles, little mice who DO eat plants.
  • Mole Habitat: Look for mole activity around fences, hedges, buildings, and near woods.
  • Moles Are Year-Round Pest: Moles are active year-round, but they’re particularly busy in spring and fall. During rainy periods, you’ll see more molehills as the earthworms move toward the surface.
Mole traps on store shelf

Trapping can be effective against moles.

How to Eliminate Moles

Unfortunately, moles aren’t easily dealt with. Unless your yard is really showing damage, the best approach is to leave moles alone. They’ll usually move on once they’ve eliminated their food source. You can keep your lawn in shape by flattening the runways with your feet or a lawn roller, or by raking out the tunnels.

If you do have damage from moles, here are some tips on mole control:

  • Determine if Moles Are Active: To test mole activity in your yard, go out and stomp down the existing molehills. Then, watch each day to see if the mole pushes them back up again.
  • Forget Grub Control: The popular wisdom used to be, that to get rid of moles, you must get rid of grubs. That theory’s been pretty much disproven, since moles eat many other insects besides grubs, and if they can’t find food, they tunnel all the more.
  • Trapping Moles: If you really want to get rid of the moles in your yard, the only surefire way is to trap them. Follow trap directions exactly, because improper placement of the trap will doom your efforts! While you can’t control whether or not new moles will move in, trapping lets you know for sure that you’ve eliminated the ones you have. Before you begin, make sure mole trapping is legal in your state.
  • Home Mole Remedies: Human hair, broken glass, mothballs, bleach, thorny branches, car exhaust . . . the list of homemade mole remedies is endless, but the list of results are nonexistent, so save your time and money.
  • Ultrasonic and Vibrating Devices: These clever gizmos are popular marketing ploys, but they don’t work either.
  • Mole Fumigation: Poison gas fumigation is very iffy, because the runways are so extensive and the gases are so easily absorbed in the loose soil or vented to the surface. If you do want to try fumigation, hire a professional exterminator who can do it properly.
  • Mole Poisons: Poisons are also iffy and like fumigants, should be applied by a trained professional to keep you safe. Wormlike baits can work if applied properly. Don’t be fooled by grain-based baits and poison peanuts, moles are insectivores and don’t have the right teeth for gnawing.
Lawn damaged by moles

Lawn damaged by moles.

Mole Resistant Landscaping

The best way to declare a cease-fire with moles is to change your landscaping:

  • Shrink Your Lawn: Lawns are the most susceptible to mole damage. If your area is eternally overrun with moles, consider replacing all or part of your lawn with naturalized areas and shrub plantings.
  • Reduce Watering: Overwatering saturates the soil, inviting earthworms and moles to the surface. Cut back on irrigating your lawn, and choose drought-tolerant grasses and plants.
  • Go Native: Native plants are less damage-prone and require less water than imported varieties.
  • Keep Moles Out: Protect your raised beds from moles and other critters by lining them (including the sides) with 1/4″ metal hardware cloth. You can also try a mole barrier around the perimeter of your yard. Hardware cloth or sheet metal should be buried at least two feet deep and should stick up about six inches.
  • Natural Predators: Moles aren’t really a popular predator snack (they apparently don’t taste very good), but your dog or cat might enjoy hunting them or scaring them off.

Julie

Further Information



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12 Comments on “How to Deal with Moles in Your Yard”

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  1. Judy Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Danny, Thanks for the information. I’ve tried most everything but they continue to dig up my front yard flower bed area. They don’t seem to bother the azelia plants but if I plant floweres they die when those little critters tunnel. I’m going to try some of the “hints” you supplied and I thank you ever so much for the quick response. My neighbor also having same problems so I have copied the information you gave me and gave them a copy to read as well.
    So once again, thanks ever so much.
    Judy

  2. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    May 3rd, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Hi Judy,
    Glad we could be of help. Let us know what works to get rid of them.
    Ben

  3. Judy Says:
    May 3rd, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Hi, several of my cousins have been having critter problems as well and they purchased onee of those sonic mole deperents or whatever they are called and thus far they say the moles are not showing up in their yards so tomorrow I go to the Lowes store and purchase one and will give it a try. Will let yu know how it works,
    Thanks,
    Judy

  4. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    May 4th, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Judy,
    Let us know if it works. Our lawn and garden writer, Julie Day, wrote an article on household sonic repellents for rodents you might want to check out http://www.todayshomeowner.com/do-ultrasonic-electronic-pest-repellents-work/. The consensus was that they didn’t work very well, but I don’t know about the mole version.

  5. Judy Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Got one of those sonic mole chaser or whatever and so far it seems to be doing the job. have only seen two small holes since putting it in the flower bed in front yard. So will keep my fingers crossed that maybe hopefully no more mole holes. Got the critte chaser at Lowes in Niles.
    Thanks for your help,
    Judy

  6. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Judy,
    Thanks for the update! Let us know if it keeps working as I have moles tearing up my yard, too!

  7. Judy Says:
    May 23rd, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I sure will. Two of my neighbors also purchased one of those critter chasers and they too seemed please with the thus far results. Keeping fingers crossed.
    Judy

  8. Allen Says:
    August 12th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I tried all the home remedys, such as, wrapping juciy fruit gum around garlic….(next day found wrappers above ground. tried the hot sauce and pepper mixture ( that just made them dig more….tried electronic sound (they dug them up) tried the windmills (no luck)….tried two different type of traps (didn’t work)….the cat caught one (wife felt sorry for it and let it go)……next stop, gun shop, see if a 12 gauge shotgun will work (Joe Bidden thinks it might) goodbye mole hunters—-happy hunting…..

  9. Judy Says:
    August 13th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    so fas the sonic mole chaser i purchased seems to be working. Only found couple of small drilling areas and they were very small and it has been awhile since I have seem any lately. So far SO GOOD’
    Judy

  10. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 14th, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Judy,
    Thanks for the followup, glad to hear it’s working!

  11. Jon Says:
    July 18th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    My yard has been suffering from mole infestation for months now…I read that combining water, dish detergent and caster oil works as a repellent..Has anyone tried this combination in their yard??

    Thank you in advance
    - Jon

  12. Judy Says:
    July 18th, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    so far so good, Have not as YET gotten any mole pumps in my yard this year so the sonic thing must be working. Thanks to LOWES . Good luck Guys
    Judy

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