How to Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard (and Keep Them Away)

These little diggers can cause a lot of damage. Use these tips to stop existing moles and prevent more from moving in.

When you see a series of 3- to 5-inch, rounded, raised ridges running across the surface of your lawn, accompanied by little volcanoes of soil here and there, you know you have a mole around. These small mammals can cause quite a bit of damage quickly because their tunneling ruins any plants in their path. As they dig through the earth, they destroy roots, so the tell-tale ridges of their tunnels rapidly turn brown. On the positive side, moles help aerate the soil and eat up destructive insects while they're at it. Read on to learn how to get rid of moles in your yard before they do extensive damage.

mole on lawn
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What Are Moles?

Moles are burrowing insectivores. They are about 6-8 inches long and have gray to velvety black fur, slender, hairless snouts, and small eyes and ears. Moles' large front feet have long claws that dig like a hoe. Except for breeding season in early spring, moles tend to live alone, so the multi-tunneled pattern in your yard is likely home to only one mole.

Before you learn how to get rid of moles, you need to know how they live. Moles build new feeding tunnels constantly and may not use the same one twice. You may find entry and exit mounds, usually round and symmetrical, pushed up volcano-fashion by the mole. The hole usually has soil in it but remains visible. The mounds are connected to main runways, which moles use repeatedly. The runways are 12-18 inches underground and not usually visible.

Moles feed on insects and insect larvae, but they're especially fond of white grubs, a common lawn pest. Given a choice, moles pick moist, sandy loam soils over dry, heavy clay soils. They are most active during warm, wet months, although they live underground year-round.

Confusion with Pocket Gophers

Homeowners sometimes mistake mole tunnels for those made by pocket gophers, small rodents that also tunnel underground. Gophers, however, don't create raised ridges as they go. Instead, they eat the grass roots and other plants, pulling them down into underground burrows, which tend to push soil out to the side. Their tunnels look more flattened, with fan-shaped or semicircular mounds. Each mound may contain a visible hole, although earth clumps can camouflage the hole.

Mesh barriers, traps, and poison baits can be used to eliminate pocket gophers. However, avoid baits that contain strychnine because predators or scavengers that eat the poisoned gopher may also die.

How to Get Rid of Moles

Figuring out how to get rid of moles can be tricky because they live underground. Repellants, poisons, and fumigants are all options but should be avoided if you have pets or children that may get exposed. You may have heard of home remedies like putting moth balls in the tunnels or spraying castor oil over the area, but none are effective.

The only sure way to eliminate a mole is to use a mole-specific trap that will kill the animal. You can find below- and above-ground traps to do the job. Follow the package directions for correct placement, and move the tunnel traps daily while you're still noticing activity to increase your chances of eliminating the mole.

Spring and fall, when the ground is not frozen, are the best times of the year for getting rid of moles because that's when they're most active. Usually, you'll only have one or maybe two moles to trap to solve the problem because they don't live in groups.

How to Keep Moles Away

Some places are more likely to have moles visit, usually rural or suburban yards with large open areas or lawns. If you frequently have moles around and don't mind a few tunnels around your property, you may want to try the barrier method to protect smaller spaces, like a veggie garden or a colorful flower bed in your front yard. You can create an underground fence by burying a 24-inch metal or hardware cloth barrier ($17, Wayfair) at least a foot below the surface. If a mole tunnels into this barrier, it will usually move on and dig elsewhere.

Because moles prefer to live in areas where the soil stays moist, you can try improving drainage on your property to discourage them. If the problem isn't severe, you can wait it out to see if the mole moves to another location on their own. However, if the damage to your lawn or garden seems to worsen, it's best to take action to get rid of the mole.

Luckily, you'll probably never notice more than one mole at a time tearing up your yard, but that doesn't make them any less of a nuisance. Once you know how to get rid of moles, you can deal with those that try to tunnel their way under your lawn and hopefully discourage any more from arriving by adding barriers or improving soil drainage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will moles eventually leave on their own?

    Moles will leave when their food source runs out. Otherwise, they're likely to stick around.

  • What's the best way to repair mole damage to your yard?

    If you still have moles, flatten the runways they create underground using a lawn roller or stomping them with your feet. You can also rake out their tunnels. Once they're gone, you can fill the holes with topsoil and add sod or seed for new growth.

  • Do home remedies like dish soap and vinegar work to get rid of moles?

    You can use vinegar to get rid of moles by mixing one part vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle and spraying the holes and tunnels. Reapply every few days. Be careful using vinegar because it can kill surrounding plants.

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