How to Rid your Yard of Pocket Gophers in Arizona

photo 2So you have mounds of fresh dirt in your yard that are ruining your landscaping. Now what?

Read on to find out all the gopher removal strategies that DON’T WORK, and one that DOES!

 

Our gopher saga is vaguely reminiscent of Caddy Shack short of the plastic explosives. We live on a 5th of an acre lot backing up to a community path and one of Phoenix’s many canals – prime gopher real estate.

The footings of our cement block wall kept them at bay for almost two years, but alas, they broke into the garden about 6 weeks ago.

We first noticed the dubious dirt mounds in the far corner of the garden and in some of the nearby raised garden beds. Our first, and somewhat naive, plan of attack was to try and drown them with a garden hose. I dug around for the hole each time we saw a new mound and stuck the garden hose in.

Water seemed to disappear easily into the Earth forever. The only sign that it didn’t disappear was the sink holes it soon created. Great.

I tried the garden hose drowning method for far too long – probably a couple of weeks – convinced that if I just kept pumping water in, they would eventually drown, move on, or have a tunnel collapse on them. Every day, a new mound would appear.

Ironically, I read in an article somewhere that the hose method is counterproductive because you actually soften the earth for the gophers to  dig more easily. I guess the gophers also build their burrows above their tunnels so the water will just flow by.
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Next, we invested money in some Caster Oil gopher repellant and a rather expensive solar powered sonic spike. Both of these are epic wastes of time and money. I could swear the gopher actually dug his tunnel closer and closer to the spike just in spite.

I ask that you please do not waste your money on either.

Thankfully, we were able to return the spike to Lowes. The caster oil repellant will live on in our backyard, doing absolutely nothing but reminding me of wasted money.

gopher-hole

After foolishly thinking that ridding the yard of gophers would be easy, I contacted a few pest control companies.

One told me it would cost $160 for a first treatment and $90 for each treatment after that, twice a week for a month. The second company promptly told me to call our HOA and make them deal with it, which sounded like a good next move.

The HOA provided me with the information of the pest company they contract with to treat the common areas – whom I swiftly contacted. I would suggest contacting the pest company that treats your HOA because they will likely give you a good discount IF they treat your property. In this case – it would have been $40 if they treated our yard.

After this company treated behind our house in the common area with poison on two occasions, there were still new mounds in our backyard.

In a final, desperate attempt, we tried a gopher trap. We found one at Lowes for around $12. I was completely skeptical of any commercially available product at this point, convinced that the gopher would just be laughing in his burrow like he must have been for the past month.

gopher-trap-set

Digging into a fresh mound, we set the trap. It appeared to be a one way tunnel trap, so we set the open end facing the direction that the gopher had entered our yard under the assumption that he would have a more extensive tunnel system back that way, and likely enter from that direction.

I went outside two hours later and noticed the trap was no longer set. I immediately assumed we did not set it correctly and it had sprung by mistake.

I called Chris to come reset it, and, to my complete surprise, we caught and killed the gopher.
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I read the personal blog of another couple who recalled a similar story. They tried almost all of the same techniques – maybe more. I think they even built an elaborate smoker suffocation machine. They finally won their gopher battle with a trap. In retrospect, we should have heeded their advice sooner.

So to recap, do not buy caster oil repellant, sonic spikes, or attempt to drown your gopher out with a hose. Buy a trap. Or maybe two.

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