Gophers and moles can cause unsightly damage to lawns and garden areas and can foil even the most savvy gardeners trying to get rid of them. Because gophers and moles live in underground burrows, they can be hard to detect. Folk remedies, such as putting razor blades or human hair in the burrows and runways, don't work; and flooding their tunnels with water seldom has the effect of drowning these animals. However, traps, fumigants and poisons can be effective.
Traps For Both Animals
Although gophers and moles are different creatures and different controls are used, traps are one of the most effective tools for ridding your yard of these creatures. The best mole traps are scissor-jaw, harpoon and choker loop traps. Gopher traps are inexpensive and can be useful in killing gophers on your property, but they can also be hard to use. You must remove dirt from the tunnels and then put the trap inside so it is level. Then you must cover the opening with cardboard and dirt, taking care that no dirt gets on the trap. Then, later, you must dig up the trap and deal with a dead animal.
Protective Planter Beds
Gophers eat the roots of many plants. You can prevent them from getting near your plants by building a wooden frame and attaching a double layer of narrow-gauge chicken wire on the lower side of the frame that sits on the ground. Then fill your raised gopher-proof bed with soil and compost and any other ingredients your specific plants will need. Plant your plants as usual inside this protective bed--their roots will be able to grow through the wire when they grow larger, and gophers can nibble on these lower roots but will not be able to kill the plants.
Toxicants and Fumigants
The U.S. government has approved a toxicant called zinc phosphate for control of moles. This poison is infused into grain, which you then insert into moles' runways. The fumigants calcium cyanide, aluminum phosphide and gas cartridges also are approved for mole control. However, they are restricted-use pesticides--so they might not be allowed in all states or counties.
Toxic baits can also control gophers. A common bait is grain-treated with strychnine, which you can purchase at garden supply stores. Be sure to follow label instructions by correctly placing the bait into their main tunnels. The University of Davis IPM Online site reports, "Fumigation with smoke or gas cartridges usually isn't effective, because gophers quickly seal off their burrow when they detect smoke or gas. However, fumigation with aluminum phosphide is effective at controlling gopher populations, although it is a restricted-use material."