Moles are small subterranean mammals that live a life of solitude and can be a real nuisance for gardeners and agriculturalists alike. They are not intentionally a nuisance and do not eat plants’ roots or harm vegetation, they are a nuisance indirectly and can damage lawns when digging new runs. You will know if you have moles under your lawn as they are quite easy to identify as they will leave behind a molehill. A molehill is a mound of loose soil that looks like a small volcano where the soil is pushed to the surface when a mole is constructing a new burrow or repairing an old one. Other burrowing animals such as mole rats and voles can cause molehills to appear in your lawn too, but these are less common.
How to Stop Moles Digging up Your Lawn
Although they may be a nuisance by destroying your lawn, moles are actually extremely good for the soil. Moles are known to aerate the soil and they do not eat the roots of plants, but they will eat the other little critters that do such as slugs. If you have a mole problem and are looking to get rid of them, there are various ways to naturally repel moles from your garden without having to resort to trapping or killing them.
There are a variety of plants that you can plant that are natural mole repellents because the roots give off an odour that the moles do not like. Plant some Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyrism) whose roots are known to repel moles. Other plants such as castor beans which give off the smell of castor oil can also be effective. Moles also dislike daffodils, marigolds and alliums.
Moles have an extremely good sense of smell and there are a few different smells that moles are not fond of. Coffee grounds, fish and dog faeces are all things that you can put down in your garden when a molehill has appeared. Simply put some of the foul-smelling substance down the centre of the molehill into the run to deter the moles from coming back and help them make the decision to move on.
3. Vibrations and Loud Noise
There are electronic devices (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) on the market that are designed to repel moles. Moles have extremely good hearing, and the electronic devices are designed to give off a barely audible buzzing noise that the moles do not like. Installing one of the electronic mole deterrent devices may help the moles decide that your garden is not for them.
4. Humane Traps
The only way to guarantee success in getting rid of moles is to use a humane trap (Amazon link – opens in a new tab). Humane mole traps require a little investigation as you will need to know where to set them. You will need to know where there is an active mole run and you will be able to do this by trodding down the suspected area – if it has been repaired when you check the next day, the run is active. Once you have caught the pesky little critter, you can relocate them far away from your garden.
A popular choice among many gardeners is the use of mesh or wire fencing that is at least a foot deep. Moles are naturally averse (some may say lazy) to digging through such materials, finding them challenging and unpleasant to navigate. You could also consider laying a trench filled with gravel around any prized spots to provide a further deterrent. Moles have a natural distaste for rocky soil; the texture is uncomfortable for them to dig through.
What Not to Do to Deter Moles
It’s as crucial to know the ineffective and potentially harmful strategies as it is to understand the effective ones. Here’s what you should avoid:
Chemicals and Poisons
These might seem like a quick fix, but they come with significant downsides. Not only can these poisons inadvertently harm other wildlife that frequents your garden, but they pose potential risks to household pets and even humans. Furthermore, introducing chemicals can upset the delicate balance of your garden’s ecosystem, leading to long-term damage and a decrease in the natural biodiversity.
One popular myth is the idea of using chewing gum to deter moles. The belief is that moles will consume the gum, find it indigestible, and eventually perish. Not only is this method ineffective, but it also introduces non-biodegradable substances into your garden’s ecosystem.
Shards of Glass
Another widespread misconception is that inserting shards of broken glass into mole tunnels will prevent them from digging further. This method is not only ineffective but poses a risk. Broken glass can harm other animals, including beneficial ones, that might come into contact with the shards, and it can also pose a hazard to gardeners.
“Moles’ saliva paralyses worms so the mole can store the worms alive in their larder to eat later! Mole larders have previously been discovered with hundreds of paralysed worms stored inside!”
“Moles are incredible diggers and can dig up to 5 metres per hour!”
“Moles are not blind, but they do not have good eyesight, their eyes are covered by a layer of skin so that dirt does not get in them!”
Now you have read this, you will have to decide if the mole is your friend or your foe. Moles are extremely helpful in getting rid of pesky bugs that will eat the roots of your plants but in doing so, they can be a nuisance and make lawns look terrible. If you decide that the moles are your friend, you may have to put up with the odd molehill from time to time but if you decide that you need to get rid of them, you now know how to stop moles digging in your garden and the best ways are humane and can be installed with ease. If you do not think that moles are ruining your lawn, check out what else could be doing the damage.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Loose soil from molehills makes a great addition to potting soil, just scoop it up and away you go!”
“If you have plants that you are worried about disturbing, you have to dig around them and install some mesh to keep the moles away!”
“If you plant castor beans, be extremely careful with children and animals as they are extremely poisonous!”
“Once you have managed to catch the problem mole, you should take it a few miles away and release it again; preferably not anywhere near other people’s gardens!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Moles see in daylight?
Moles’ eyesight is extremely poor, but they can distinguish between light and dark. They cannot however see like you and me and distinguish colours.
Moles rely on their other senses such as hearing and their incredible sense of touch.
What do moles do at night?
Moles are active both during the day and at night. They are usually active for around 4 hours at a time. Due to a mole’s huge energy expenditure, it requires rest and food every 4 hours.
How long do moles stay in your garden?
The average lifespan of a mole is approximately 3 years although the mole may not stay in your garden that long.
How long a mole will stay will depend on a few factors such as how much food is available and whether there is anything around the habitat that the mole does not like such as strong-smelling roots and other odours.
How do you get moles in your garden?
Moles are amazing tunnellers and will dig their way into your garden. Moles are likely to stay where there is an abundance of food and they will eat grubs, slugs, earthworms, and other critters.
Moles are known to be extremely good for the soil, aerating it as they go.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.