Just moved to a new house, and now have room for a garden. Bad news is that
there is a huge mole problem, so I was thinking about trenching around the
garden area and burying hardware cloth (metal screen with holes too small
for the moles to get through). However, I'm worried about how fast it will
rust out- I can't afford to re-trench every year or two. Soil condition is
Does anyone have experience with burying hardware cloth, and how long it
takes before it starts rusting away?
Depending on what widths are available, I'd bury it as deep as possible to
still leave about 9-12 inches above ground to keep them from just coming up
and going over the top.
Perhaps a year or two but can't say exactly (depends on what's in the
soil, how damp, pH, etc), but you can get vinyl covered hardware cloth
that will outlast plain hardware cloth. Also, you can protect plain
hardware cloth with Rustoleum paint.
is it constantly very moist, because that may mean the soil
doesn't drain well? if so, you could plant your garden in raised
bed boxes & put the hardware cloth on the bottoms of the boxes.
easier than trenching.
a year or two. also, moles can tunnel up to 15' deep, so that's
going to be some project.
why don't you spend a couple years getting rid of the moles? if
you have a large population, that means there is a good food
supply. moles eat grubs. grubs eat the roots off your plants. get
rid of the grubs & you've solved two problems. i suggest you apply
either Milky Spore or BT for grubs.
a way to control moles above ground is to get a cat. some dogs
will hunt moles. my Great Pyranees/Border Collie digs moles out of
their tunnels & my barn cats catch a few moles every week.
If you are _really_ committed to this idea then you could spend more and
buy stainless steel hardware cloth rather than the typical galvanized. You
won't find it at your local hardware store but it can be had. It won't be
cheap but it should last for decades. Or you could make a different sort of
effort and make permanent raised beds perhaps 18" (call it 45cm if you
prefer) deep. A double layer of heavy-duty landscape cloth on the bottom
will probably suffice to deter moles while allowing proper drainage.
It depends on soil conditions but hardware cloth should last 3 - 5 years.
Long term you would be MUCH better off getting rid of your mole problem.
The moles are only around because there is a good food source (likely
grubs). Get rid of their feed source and they will find another home.
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)
To see pictures from my garden visit http://members.iglou.com/brosen
Thanks to all who responded. I will definitely work toward a grub-free
lawn; the total property is over 2 acres and partly wooded, so I'll just
focus on the open areas, definitely using organic solutions.
The yard is very wet (per one of the responses indicating that will rust
the hardware cloth quickly); I think with proper placement I can avoid the
garden area itself being too wet. The biggest reasons I wasn't looking at
raised beds is (a) I want to avoid all treated lumber, but haven't found
anything that is affordable as a good alternative that will last as long,
and (b) for the vegetable area of the garden I want to be able to use my
larger tiller to add compost every other year, and (c) the garden will have
a temporary greenhouse on top because the winters get just a little too
cold, and all the greenhouse books give a range of options, from
freestanding pots (which lose a lot of heat quickly due to large surface
area) to larger raised beds (medium heat loss) to what they say is the best
option- planting directly in the ground for maximum heat retention (I'm
actually considering putting in some subsoil drain pipe and a fan to
capture heat in the soil during the spring/fall- cheap if I do all the
I'm new to the area (Pacific Northwest), but all the neighbors say not to
let the cat out (or any dog under 40 lbs) due to the coyote population and
the eagles, which have a reputation for taking small domestic animals
(there goes my idea of getting a chihuahua to rat out the moles).
Again, thank you all for your suggestions, and I'll continue to monitor for
additional replys, questions, or suggestions.
Where in the PNW are you located? I've lived here all my life and
gardened with both dogs and cats (outdoors) and unless you live in a
pretty rural area, coyotes and eagles are a non-issue. Even in my
pretty urban neighborhood you will see an occasional coyote but they
are scavangers and shy away from any human activity. Wet in this area
is also generally a rather temporary condition, restricted mostly to
winter and spring - this is a recurring summer drought area,
otherwise. And wet soil conditions - if attributed to heavy soils and
poor drainage - will need to be properly addressed anyway before you
will have much success with most aspects of gardening. This is one of
the primary advantages of raised bed gardening, as it reduces the
amount of drainage work and soil improvement necessary with in-ground
planting. Building beds of wood is only one option, although treated
wood on the market now is of little concern regarding toxic chemicals
- using concrete blocks is a very economical method and they last
indefinitely. Raised beds also serve to extend the growing season as
the soil heats up faster in spring and will remain warm later into the
As to the moles, I wouldn't bother going to excessive effort to keep
them at bay......certainly not the point of applying any kind of
treatment to the soil, organic or not. Moles indicate a very healthy
soil condition with a lot of biology and since the majority of the
grubs, larvae and worms one finds in the NW are beneficial soil
dwellers, you want to encourage them, not get rid of them. Moles also
do not bother plants - they are carnivores - and the only plant
destruction thay may create is some possible root disturbance as they
hunt or construct their tunnels. They are actually great soil aerators
and they can actually help to improve compacted, heavy soils or poor
drainage. They can create some issues with lawns and tunnel openings,
but that is pretty easily remedied just be collapsing the mounds back
into the tunnels.
There are untreated timbers that will last 30-40 years in the ground. In
these parts such are used for fence posts etc and are not that expensive. I
don't kow what is available where you are but a good timber merchant could
tell you. This may not be an international system but here timber has
grades of durability - what you want is grade 4 IIRC.
Hardware cloth does little good unless used with a raised bed. Use
hardware cloth to seal the very bottom of your raised bed garden.
Hardware cloth doesn't last long at the point it's exposed because
it's oxygen and water that accelerates rust, not just plain water.
The totally buried hardware cloth can last like 20 years, however you
really need to get the mole population down.... they feed on grubs and
root crops.. and believe it or not moles can gnaw through metal. But
still it's very difficult to rid established mole colonies, your best
bet are a couple three female cats, Toms are not reliable hunters,
they may but mostly they can't be bothered. Female felines hunt
naturally even when well fed. A good mouser will annialate her own
weight in rodents every day.
Mooch is the world's best mouser, many a mouse caught in her stare
just rolled over and died from fright:
I prefer the synthetic woven ground cloth on 12 foot wide rolls (e.g.
the commercial quality stuff from places like QC supply = item number
Some of mine has been defending raised and non-raised beds, as well as
providing an underlayment for stones that rest under my greenhouse
benches both in and out of the greenhouse for more than 10 years.
The floor of my greenhouse is this fabric and we work on it every day.
The only thing under it is plain old dirt.
When I lived in South Florida we buried galvanized hardware cloth all along
the bottom of our new privacy fencing when we had it replaced in 1996. We
cut strips, stapled it to the fencing, and buried about 10 inches of it to
keep the Bufo toads from getting in. It was a tedious and time consuming
process, but we only had to do it once and as the toads were poisonous to
our dogs it was very much worth the trouble.
Mind you this was a hot and humid climate, but when we moved in 2007 the
cloth was as good as new and showed no signs of deteriorating at all in the
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