Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes. Some have four legs, some
have six or even eight legs. Some, with no legs at all, slither on
their bellies, while others fly or creepy-crawl. But sometimes the
most frustrating critters are the ones that tunnel below the surface
and chomp away on your plant roots.
Perhaps you have a solution to help this reader with her problem…
QUESTION: “Any new ideas on how to deal with a serious mole problem in
our acre of heavily landscaped yard and gardens?
“We live in the country, and our house is on former farm land and
pastures. I understand that moles are supposed to be very territorial
creatures, and that only one or two moles are supposed to inhabit an
acre of land, but we know that we have many more, because we can
visibly see them tunneling along in different areas of our garden.
“My husband and I respect all forms of life and refuse to attempt to
trap, poison, harpoon, electrocute, gas, or shovel-bludgeon these
little creatures to death, but we are very tired of repairing all the
damage that they do to our beds and the expensive plants that they
manage to uproot. We've tried all kinds of folk lore remedies to
discourage them from our yard (such as pepper based products), and
we've tried the commercial castor-oil based sprays (makes your soil
terribly sticky and sickly!), to no avail.
“We've also tried the ultrasonic in-ground devices, but I swear that
the moles seem to be attracted by anything new that we introduce to
the ground and they do MORE damage in the areas that we try to protect
with such devices. We've also tried to plant things in plastic or wire
mesh cages to prevent root damage as they tunnel around, but again,
these little critters seem to go berserk in the "protected areas" and
tunnel out all the soil surrounding such cages, thus defeating the
purpose of this time-consuming effort. “In frustration, I bought
traps, but couldn't bring myself to use them. We've considered getting
a cat, or perhaps a couple of ferrets, or maybe a boa constrictor to
set free in the yard... but, alas, we have a thriving bird community
that would be threatened by the cat... and recruiting other critters
to kill the moles isn’t really consistent with our "violence-free"
philosophy, is it? “Have you any other ideas that might make our
garden a little less appealing to these creatures?” – Deborah Abraham
ANSWER: I can empathize with you because we have similar problems in
our gardens. I have used a product called Liquid Fence Mole and Vole
Repellent and it works for us.
It’s a simple product to use in that you simply attach the container
to your garden hose and spray the ground. Apparently it works by
coating earthworms and plant roots with something highly distasteful
to moles but harmless to humans and animals. The moles tunnel
elsewhere in search of tastier meals. Contrary to popular belief,
moles almost never eat plants, subsisting on worms and other small
invertebrates, but they can damage plants by undermining the roots and
often create molehills on lawns.
However it is a constant problem. When you use the product the moles
move on but within a month more are back and you need to repeat the
process. We feel the same way about killing the little things and that
is why we do this once a month rather that put out traps or poison.
The manufacturers claim that the product is biodegradable and
You mentioned folk remedies, and I’m guessing that there are hundreds
out there! So come on, readers: Share your mole-be-gone solutions and
help Deborah and other frustrated gardeners! Remember, your remedy
must be effective in your experience (rather than hearsay) and should
be humane and non-toxic. You might see your remedy included here in a
future column. Send your suggestion in an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org You can also contact me there if you need
shopping information for the Liquid Fence Mole and Vole Repellent.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org