How to Keep Burrowing Animals Out of Your Garden

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Originally posted on April 30, 2021 @ 6:09 pm

Burrowing animals are one of the great menaces to a homeowner. Gardeners hate it when vermin eat their plants. All that time and effort and animals destroy a harvest of tasty fresh fruits and vegetables or chew up pretty flowers you spent weeks cultivating.

And, not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but those gopher holes and rabbit burrows can be dangerous. You can trip and fall and twist your ankle, or worse. So, how do you critter proof a garden? As the providers of high quality landscaping turf, Turf Factory Direct is familiar with the pests and nuisances that can plague gardeners and homeowners. We’ll give you the tips and tricks you need to keep the pests away. 

Turf Factory Direct Gopher Mound vs Mole Hill How to Keep Burrowing Animals Out of Your Garden

What Could be Burrowing in My Garden?

Many animals can dig holes in your garden. Identifying which pest it is can help you determine the best way to get and/or keep them out. 

Moles, Gophers, Shrews, Voles, & Groundhogs 

These little critters are all varying sizes of rodent that have similar levels of tenacity and create holes. While gophers come to the surface more often than moles and voles, they can end up being equally obnoxious. Usually the sign that you have them is wilting and dying plants that you can’t explain. 

And if that’s not enough, eliminating the homes and the varmints can often make way for more pests. Voles, for example, will commonly move into a previously occupied tunnel network. No matter which burrowing pest you’re dealing with, all of them can significantly damage a garden and lawn.

Raccoons, Rabbits, Squirrels, Skunks, Porcupines, Mice, & Rats 

All of these pests don’t necessarily burrow, at least not in the same way moles and gophers do, but they can be significant irritants nonetheless. Many of them can create burrows and dens to hide in, dig up your lawn, and eat your garden. 

So, how do I keep animals from eating my garden plants?

Solution #1: Get a Turf Lawn

One of the best ways to cut down on burrowing animals is to install an artificial turf lawn. Turf lawns inhibit burrowing creatures because the layers of sub base and backing are too difficult to burrow through. Surrounding your garden with a turf lawn is an effective way to discourage burrowing animals from trying to get to it. 

The process alone of preparing the surface and installing turf includes multiple activities that are enough to disrupt, remove, deter, and suppress the presence and proliferation of pests and nuisances for the long term. And, since turf is synthetic, the lack of water and plant matter means less food for bugs, which moles and gophers love to eat. A turf lawn will starve out the animals, encouraging them to go and live somewhere else. 

Solution #2: Don’t Attract Animals 

Don’t give burrowing animals opportunities with untrimmed shrubs or debris to make nests and hidey holes. If there’s not easy access, the animals will likely stay away. Keep the yard clean and tidy. Avoid leaving food or garbage in accessible places, even for a little while. Given the opportunity, varmints will come and set up shop.

Food is a great motivator for unwanted guests and invaders, so if you have a vegetable garden, it’s hard to keep pests out. Some people have taken to leaving some sacrificial plants unprotected by the perimeter of the property. This food is supposed to act as a decoy so animals don’t feel motivated to venture further into the yard in search of more food. 

While a food decoy may work, however, it could make the problem worse by bringing your yard to the attention of more animals.The old adage where there’s smoke there’s fire applies to animals too. If the little rodents food at the perimeter, they may think there is even more food further in (which there is). 

Solution #3: Create Barriers Against Digging Animals

How do you keep animals from burrowing in your garden? Put up a barrier between them. Good fences make good neighbors, especially where burrowing animals are concerned. 

Large areas, such as vegetable gardens, can be protected using an underground fence or a stone-filled trench. You can bury a perimeter fence at least 10 to 24 inches (depending on the animal you’re trying to keep out) below the surface to make entry harder for burrowers. 

There are all kinds of ways to create barriers for whatever garden setup you have to protect it from burrowing animals:

  • Flowerbeds and nursery beds can be protected by complete underground screening of the sides and bottom. 
  • Raised beds with rock or wooden side supports will only require bottom protection. 
  • Wire baskets can be used to protect the roots of individual trees and shrubs. Use a double layer of light-gauge wire, such as 1-inch mesh chicken wire for trees and shrubs that will need protection only while young. Leave enough room to allow for a few years of root development before the wire rots away.
  • Groups of bulbs and other plants needing long-term protection can be placed in baskets made from ½-inch mesh hardware cloth, available from hardware stores and building supply centers.
  • Several types of barriers (plastic tubes, one gallon plant containers, hardware cloth) are effective at protecting aboveground parts of small plants, such as newly planted conifers. These can be purchased from hardware stores, garden nurseries, or farm supply centers.

Another form of barrier can be made from artificial turf. As previously mentioned turf is too difficult for animals to penetrate to be able to burrow through and under. By Installing a fence around the garden, and surrounding the garden with a turf lawn, you create multiple levels of a barrier. With the turf surrounding the fence, animals will be less likely to be able to dig their way under the fence because they won’t be able to reach it. 

Solution #4: Repel Burrowing Animals

If you can’t make it difficult enough with barriers, there are stronger methods available. Repellents come in many forms, but remember that what bothers yard vermin can also bother pets, so be careful where you put it, and make sure that your pets keep a safe distance. 

If you aren’t sure which critter you’re dealing with, a possible strategy is to mix a solution in your garden sprayer with 2 oz of castor oil and 2 oz of dish detergent dissolved in water, and spray it on your lawn. Voles and gophers don’t like the stuff, and alone it might convince them to leave. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on moles, and may make some animals dig deeper or in a different part of your yard. 

Other repellents include:

  • Coyote urine
  • Fish-emulsions
  • Pepper sprays

There are a variety of repellent granules or liquid repellents to get rid of gophers, moles and other burrowing pests available for purchase. When using these products, make sure you carefully read and follow all instructions.

Animal Repellent Plants

Some plants are not only safe from being eaten, they act as a repellent to keep surrounding plants from being eaten as well, such as:

  • Azalea
  • Boxwood
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Peony
  • Marigold
  • Bleeding heart
  • Daffodil
  • Hyssop
  • Mullein
  • Lavender
  • Catnip 
  • Mint

Not only do the above plants repel animals, they make your garden even more beautiful to look at! Plant a variety of these plants around your yard or garden to keep burrowing animals out. 

Technology to Repel Burrowing Animals

If you’re looking for solutions to keep burrowing animals out of your garden or yard without building barriers or applying chemicals, there are also gadgets to scare away burrowing pests. Ultrasonic sound emitters inserted into the ground use electronic pulses to create irritating sounds to drive these pests away. 

If you have pets, keep in mind that sometimes these emitters can also be annoying them as well. Some sound emitters have motion sensors, so they only emit sound when activated by nearby motion, reducing the odds of it bothering pets. 

How do I get rid of burrowing animals? 

As a last resort, traps and poisons can end the problem permanently. Certain traps and poisons are only effective against certain vermin, so it’s important to identify which burrowing pest you’re dealing with before setting a bunch of traps and leaving out poison. As always, make sure to carefully read and follow all the instructions that come with any product, especially chemicals. 

To be certain of the best course of action, get in touch with your local animal control office. Animal control will likely be able to provide advice and resources for dealing with burrowing vermin. If your garden has reached the point of an infestation, you may need animal control to come and remediate the problem themselves. 

A good strategy for burrowing pest control is multilayered and diverse. Try using multiple methods for maximum effectiveness. As time goes by, consider rotating your methods. Some animals can become accustomed to different methods of pest control or learn to avoid them altogether. Additionally, as the weather and circumstances change some methods may become less effective than others. 

No More Burrowing Animals in Your Garden 

Once you’ve defeated the invasion of burrowing animals and rodents, why not make it permanent by installing artificial turf? Turf doesn’t just keep burrowing animals and rodents from digging up your lawn, it can help deter them from eating your garden. At Turf Factory Direct, we make some of the highest quality turf available at manufacturer prices. Get in touch with us to see how you can make your dream artificial turf yard a reality.