Updated On

July 3, 2024

Why You Can Trust Us

Today’s Homeowner exists to help you maintain or improve your home safely and effectively. We uphold strict editorial standards and carefully vet the advice and resources referenced in our articles. Click below to learn more about our review process and how we earn money.

Learn More

    Gophers on your property can cause untold amounts of damage to your yard, crops, landscaping, and flower beds. If you’re looking to kick these common yard pests to the curb, there are five simple ways to get rid of gophers: you can shoot them, trap them, poison them, repel them, or fumigate them. Read on to learn more about each method and find out which one will work best for your home.

    However, if trying to get rid of gophers on your own becomes too challenging, I recommend contacting an exterminator like Orkin, Terminix, or Aptive. These exterminators use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY pest control methods. To learn more about these companies, check out our guides linked above or get an estimate by clicking on the links below.

    Our Pick


    Over 90 years of experience

    Nationwide service area

    Free retreatments if pests return

    Limited Time:
    Get $50 OFF Pest Control Plan
    Best Service Selection
    orkin logo


    Treats 20 types of pests

    Offers instant online quotes

    30-day money-back guarantee

    Limited Time:
    $50 Off First Service (GET50)

    What Attracts Gophers?

    Like all animals, gophers are always looking for water, food, and shelter. When it comes to food sources, gophers are herbivores, meaning they mainly eat plants. They like to eat alfalfa, dandelions, weeds, bulbs, shrubs, trees, certain vegetables, and even overgrown lawns, so they’re notorious for invading vegetable gardens. They seek out plants with big roots that they can feed on, so if you have any of their favorite foods growing in your backyard, there’s a good chance they’ll find their way onto your property.

    How Can I Keep Gophers off My Property?

    If you want to keep gophers from even getting onto your property in the first place, you can use methods like habitat modification, fencing, and buffer strips to keep the critters out. Check out the chart below for more information on how to keep gophers away.

    Put simply, habitat modification is the act of changing the way you grow the plants in your yard to make them less appealing to gophers. You can use habitat modification techniques, which include resistant crop varieties, crop rotation, and flood irrigation, to keep gophers off your land.

    Grain crops that have thin roots don’t produce enough food for gophers to live year-round, so if you plant these kinds of crops, gophers won’t be attracted to your yard. However, if you’re unable to change your crops, this method won’t work.

    Farmers can also incorporate crop rotation by planting alfalfa one season and then grain crops the next. This reduces the gophers’ available food supply below the survival point. You can also use flood irrigation to fill their burrows with water. This forces gophers to either leave or drown.

    Using fencing to keep gophers out of your property can be a simple and effective solution, but since gophers are subterranean, at least half the fence needs to be underground to keep them out.

    To install a gopher fence, first, dig a trench 18–24 inches deep. Then, place one-inch chicken wire (or wire mesh) down in it and leave one or two feet of wire above the ground. Next, shovel the dirt back in and tack the exposed wire to stakes to hold it upright. Stretch it tight, and your gopher fence is good to go.

    However, the time, expense, and labor involved in making a fence can be a big disadvantage to this method. If you’re trying to protect an area much larger than a normal yard around a house, it’ll probably be more hassle than it’s worth.

    A buffer strip is mainly a solution for keeping gophers out of large stretches of farmland, which involves planting a 50-foot strip of grains around the fields you want to protect. This buffer crop creates an unsuitable habitat around the field and discourages gophers from searching for food.

    One of the main DIY methods for gopher control is to spread coffee grounds around the perimeter of your home or around any plants you have in your yard. The same method can work with home items like castor oil, fish, mothballs, and even Tobasco sauce. Gophers are sensitive to smells, so spreading these scents around your property can help act as deterrents to keep them out of your garden.

    Likewise, you can also add repellant plants like rosemary, lavender, or salvia to your garden. Gophers usually come to your gardens in search of food, so if you plant herbs that are unappetizing to them, it can help keep them away.

    How Do You Identify Gophers?

    Gophers and moles can look very similar, but they have some key differences. The same goes for certain types of groundhogs and squirrels. If you’re unsure whether gophers or another type of animal caused the infestation you have, there are two general methods for identifying these creatures: catching them and examining their mounds.

    The first way to identify gophers is by catching a specimen and comparing it to pictures on an online database. However, this can be extremely difficult. The advantage is that you’ll know exactly what animal you’re dealing with. The disadvantage is that it takes time and effort to trap one of them.

    The second way to identify a gopher’s presence takes a more distanced approach. Instead of catching a gopher, you examine the mounds of dirt they leave in your yard.

    Gopher mounds have a very distinct look. While ground squirrels live in underground burrows, they don’t make mounds the way gophers do. Moles will make mounds, but they look nothing like gopher mounds. Also, moles tunnel just under the surface of the ground, leaving clearly visible “runs” all over the ground.

    Gopher mounds are semi-circular or horseshoe-shaped. As a gopher digs down into the ground, they push the dirt up behind them with their back legs and tail. It creates a unique shape that’s easy to identify. You can view examples of mounds from different burrowing pests in the garden online.

    So, What Are Some Gopher Removal Methods?

    Like any backyard pest, there’s more than one way to get rid of them. Gophers may be tricky to remove from your property, but the following methods are some of the best-proven ways to get rid of gophers.

    Method 1: Shoot Them

    This is the least effective method, and if you live within city limits, you could even face legal problems. Most towns and cities have strict laws about discharging weapons inside the city limits, especially at night. If you want to sit up at night with a flashlight and a rifle, I suggest you check with the police first.

    The researchers at the University of Wyoming agree that shooting gophers is largely a waste of time, especially if there are more than one or two of them in your yard.

    Method 2: Trap Them

    Trapping is a time-honored method of catching and killing animals of all shapes and sizes. Most mole and gopher traps will do the job, provided you follow some simple steps.

    • Determine the direction of the tunnel system
    • Open the tunnel several feet from the opening
    • Put two traps back-to-back in the tunnel
    • Cover them up
    • Cover the main opening to the tunnel

    When the tunnel opening is closed off, the airflow will stop, prompting the gopher to investigate what happened, and they’ll run right into the traps.

    The downside of using traps is that you have to clean blood and gore off the traps after each use. Sometimes, the traps don’t finish killing the gophers completely, and you’ll have to do it yourself. If you’re squeamish, this method isn’t for you.

    However, you can also do live trapping, where you catch the gophers and release them in another area. This is difficult, especially for beginners, but it can be a more humane way to deal with gophers.

    Method 3: Bait and Poison Them

    Baiting is another method with a long, proven track record. There are all kinds of good baits on the market, but check out our guide on the best gopher baits to find out which one is best for you. Gopher bait already contains some poison, but you can pair it with an additional poison for an extra lethal combination. Check out our guide on the best gopher poisons for more information on how to get the most out of your bait and poison.

    There are two main kinds of gopher bait: block baits and granular baits. For using block baits, push the bait into the opening of the tunnel and then seal up their burrow so the gopher will have to come back to open it up and encounter the bait.

    For granular baits, poke a hole into the tunnel several feet from the opening. Then, pour some granules in and close the hole. Next, cover up the main opening, prompting the gopher to come and see what the problem is.

    The downside with baits is that you never see the bodies, so it’s hard to tell when they die. Still, you won’t have to dispose of dead gophers, so that’s a plus. You can also save money on exterminator costs, so it’s a more budget-friendly method.

    Method 4: Repel Them

    There are two kinds of repellents for gophers: sonic repellents and chemical repellents. Both of them are humane ways to handle gopher activity, but neither of these methods are foolproof.

    Sonic repellents typically consist of a stake that you bury six inches in the ground. On top is a solar panel that charges the batteries that run the device. The stake emits a 400 to 1,000 Hz low-frequency sound at set intervals, usually 25 to 30 seconds, which annoys the gopher (and sometimes humans). The effective radius for each stake varies between 70 and 80 feet in diameter, depending on the model.

    Chemical repellents consist of granules or pellets made of a material that smells and tastes bad to gophers. Castor oil is a popular choice and can be effective in keeping gophers away. To use these repellants, spread them around your property with a spray bottle, then put a spoonful down the main opening of each mound in the affected area.

    These granules are usually water-activated, so you’ll have to water the area when you’re done spreading the granules. You’ll also have to pour some water down the gopher holes you put the granules in. Be sure to reapply after heavy rain.

    Method 5: Fumigate Them

    Fumigation is a simple but time-consuming way to get rid of gophers. First, purchase a gopher gas cartridge online or from your local hardware store. Then, light the cartridge and insert it deeply into the open of a gopher mound. Next, close the opening as tightly as possible to trap the gas inside. Finally, examine the ground carefully and press the soil down in any areas where the smoke is escaping.

    If the gopher is in the mound when you light the cartridge, he’ll probably die in about two minutes. However, according to the University of California Integrated Pest Management, fumigation methods aren’t always helpful because gophers can quickly seal off their burrows when they detect smoke or gas. Take this into account when using these methods.

    Final Thoughts on Gopher Removal

    All of the methods listed above will either kill gophers or chase them away, but none of them are foolproof. Most pest control technicians agree that a combination of methods is the best way to handle a gopher problem. The specific combination you’ll use will depend on the size of the area you’re trying to protect.

    For the average homeowner, the best combination for handling gophers is a mix of bait and repellents. The repellents will discourage the gophers from staying in the area, and the bait will kill the stubborn ones that do. Other combinations will also work, so you can experiment to see what works best for your situation.

    Still, if you think you might need professional help with your gopher problem, you can always hire a pest control service. Before you search for exterminators near you, check out our guide on how much it costs to get rid of gophers, and use the form below to connect with local pest control professionals.

    Get Free Pest Control Estimates
    Connect with local pest control professionals near you.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What types of plants or flowers repel gophers naturally?

    You can try planting crown imperials, lavender, rosemary, salvia, catmint, oleander, and marigolds to repel gophers. These plants aren’t guaranteed to keep them away, but they’re plants that gophers typically find unappetizing.

    How quickly can gophers reproduce and spread in my yard?

    Gophers typically only breed one or two litters a year, each litter averaging four to six young. While they may not reproduce as quickly as other backyard creatures, they can cause a lot of damage to your garden, so it’s best to act quickly when you detect a gopher infestation.

    What time of year is best for gopher trapping or removal?

    It’s best to trap gophers in late fall through late winter when their mounding activity is high. This is before gophers typically breed, so there will likely be fewer gophers present, making it easier to remove them.

    Are there any humane ways to get rid of gophers without killing them?

    You can get rid of gophers without killing them by using humane methods like catch-and-release traps, installing fences, spraying strong smells around your property to repel them, and using sonic repellants. These methods may not be as effective, but if you’re looking for a more humane way to handle your gopher infestation, they can still be beneficial.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Mitchell Layton

    Mitchell Layton

    Mitchell Layton is a former professional mover who currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell spent years packing and moving for REAL Rock N Roll Movers, a commercial and residential moving company based in Los Angeles that’s primarily staffed with up-and-coming musicians. That gave him plenty of experience navigating box trucks up and down the winding streets of LA. In addition to moving hundreds of happy customers into new homes and apartments all across Southern California, Mitchell has also performed corporate moves on company lots for Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount, and more. After pouring blood, sweat, and tears into his profession, Mitchell has all the helpful tips you need for your next move.

    Learn More

    Learn About Pest Control Experts in Your Area