The last thing any gardener wants is a mole tearing up a perfectly manicured lawn and flowerbeds.
But while can be nuisances, moles are harmless and should be removed humanely. In fact, harming or killing moles is not recommended as they can be beneficial to the environment by removing pests and ensuring the balance of local ecosystems as well as naturally aerating soil. Any damage they cause to plant life is incidental to their lifestyle.
Here, we provide four ways to get rid of moles in your yard naturally and two ways you should avoid.
How to get rid of moles in your yard naturally
It is unlikely that mole tunnels and hills are a part of your backyard ideas, so the first step to getting rid of moles naturally is to identify that it is moles that are tearing up your yard.
Moles are common spring and summer pests but, luckily, when there’s a mole problem, and unlike when you are getting rid of mice or getting rid of rats, you are likely only dealing with one because they are solitary animals.
Common signs of moles include surface tunnels, dying grass and plants as the moles tear up roots, an increase in weeds, and round molehills – piles of dirt under six inches tall and shaped like small volcanoes.
Most damage caused by moles can be found in shady, damp areas where more grubs and earthworms are likely to thrive.
1. Get rid of grubs to eliminate mole's food source
While some grubs such as earthworms are beneficial to your yard, cutting back on insects can help limit a mole's food source and force it from your garden.
A good way to do this is by applying beneficial garden nematodes, also known as roundworms, in your yard. Nematodes are tiny, harmless parasites that can combat a variety of pests that moles love to feed on but leave earthworms alone. It is important to select the right nematodes when applying them to your garden as some varieties can damage plant matter.
A quicker way to remove surface pests is to make your own homemade bug spray. Whilst this doesn't remove soil grubs, it will reduce a mole's food options and may encourage it out of your yard.
2. Plant marigolds, alliums, and daffodils to discourage moles
These plants are non-toxic alternatives to the ‘mole plant’ or castor beans which can be poisonous to other animals. This method works because these flowers, marigolds in particular, produce a pungent fragrance that dissuades moles from making a home in your yard.
Marigolds are also fantastic for companion planting, which means your fruit and veg will benefit, too.
3. Catch and release the mole
Catching and releasing a mole yourself is one of the more difficult ways of removing the animal since they very rarely come to the surface. However, is the most effective and sure-fire way to ensure they have moved on.
The first step is to determine an active runway the mole is using. This can be done by poking holes in the top of a tunnel and keeping an eye on it. If the hole is repaired within one to two days, you have found an active tunnel.
Placing the trap depends on what kind of trap you are using but all traps should be placed within these active tunnels. Once caught, move the moles a significant distance away from your yard and release them – the best place to do this is in woody and shaded areas so they can thrive and are more unlikely to return.
4. Install solar repellents
An easy, non-invasive method to deter moles is using a solar-powered mole repeller (this one is highly rated on Amazon (opens in new tab)). These small additions to your garden emit a low-frequency vibration through the soil which aims to mimic the sound created by another animal digging through your yard – such as a competing mole or predator.
Because moles are generally solitary creatures, the implied threat of another animal should be enough to encourage them to move on and continued use could prevent further moles from intruding into your space.
Methods to avoid when getting rid of moles
These methods are used for getting rid of moles, but there are good reasons for avoiding them.
1. Avoid using castor oil to deter moles
Castor oil is a common home remedy for deterring moles due to its strong, distinctive smell. Whilst castor oil will not seriously harm animals or plants, experts contest its effectiveness. What’s more, most people use this homemade concoction to try to kill moles, rather than drive them away.
Castor oil can upset a mole's digestive system and cause them to itch – causing any pain to moles is not an effective way of dissuading them from your yard.
2. Don’t use mothballs to deter moles
Mothballs are a solidified form of pesticide that have been used to deter moths for years. They work by deteriorating slowly and releasing pesticides in gas form.
Whilst these gases are not as harmful to moles as they are to moths, they will not completely remove the mole problem. Instead, they are more likely to force them to dig alternative tunnels. Due to moth balls' toxic nature, they are also likely to harm the plants you are trying to protect.
What causes moles to come into your yard?
Moles are insectivores and burrow to feast on a variety of grubs such as earthworms, ants, and crickets. They require quite a lot of food to survive and can therefore dig immense tunnels and holes in your yard in search of insects in very short periods of time.
Moles will not tend to leave an area on their own until their food source runs out.
Chiana is a junior writer for Homes & Gardens having joined Future plc as a new graduate in 2022 after achieving a 1st class degree in Literature at university. She first became interested in design as a child after spending her summers helping her parents redecorate her childhood home. As a long-time reader of Future’s homes titles, Chiana is constantly finding new inspiration at work as she focuses on emerging trends, how-to’s, and news pieces.
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