If moles are driving you mad by undermining your garden and lawn, don’t reach for the water hose. There are more humane ways to discourage these relentless burrowers! Moles can be beneficial to gardens by aerating the soil and mixing organic matter closer to roots. However, most likely, they are pests you’re ready to get out of the garden.
During the winter, moles have deeper tunnels. But come growing season, their tunnels are shallow. They can damage roots of plants and tunnels can leave roots exposed to dry out. Also, voles and mice can travel the tunnels and feed on seeds, bulbs, roots and tubers.
Mole Damage in the Garden
Be on the lookout for mole damage around the garden. Rarely moles will feed on plant roots. Moles are insectivores and feed on grubs, earthworms and other insects from the soil. Be attentive in flowerbeds especially to the tulip, lily and iris. Moles may tend to like those. In your vegetable garden, watch for mole damage around carrots, potatoes, peas, beans and corn.
Plants That Repel Moles
If they’re endangering your garden, consider planting companion plants that moles just can’t stand. Castor beans are a good choice. Moles really hate castor oil, and who can blame them? Also, try a plant called “caper spurge” that’s better known as “mole plant.” Planting marigolds around the border of the garden can repel moles, as well.
Some try to treat moles with insecticides, cutting out their food supply. Be careful with using these. Often they will cut the food supply, but not entirely. This will also kill earthworms and can initially increase tunneling with the moles searching for a dwindling food supply.
If you prefer to make your own mole repellent, a one-to-one mixture of dish soap and castor oil poured into their tunnels can also send them scurrying.
One purely mechanical method is to stick prickly twigs, thorny rose or raspberry canes into their tunnels. Here’s a video on how to find which mole tunnels are active:
Want to learn more about mole behavior?
Here are some helpful resources:
Moles Drive Gardeners Crazy But Do Good Too from Oregon State University Extension
Wildlife: Moles from Penn State Extension
Controlling Nuisance Moles from University of Missouri Extension
Thank you for this information it certainly teaches me much about gardening
Joanne M. York says
If you can find an active tunnel, put a hose down and there and turn it on. As the tunnel fills, the mole will move and you’ll be able to see him from above. Grab the shovel, flip him out, and whack him! This method requires patience but it works!
done just that!
Kent H French says
Whack a mole?
I was told by an elderly woman to wad up aluminum foil and put it down the mole hole and they would leave. I just did it this morning, so hopefully it will work. They are loosening the roots and plants are falling over, or I would leave them alone
Did it work?
I had a friend living in California.An opossum was attacking her little dog.She whacked him with a shovel and put him in her garbage bin thinking he was dead.Next the cover of the bin rose up.
She called the animal shelter.They came and almost arrested her for animal cruelty or abuse.She was lucky that she was not arrested.
VALERIE j SMITH says
I have cats that do a good job
What is the best way to get rid of moles in my vegetable garden?
If you have the stomach for it, I got ride of moles by inserting dog poop into their runs. No more moles. No need to wonder what to do with my unwanted poop.