How to Get Rid of Burrowing Garden Moles
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Hello and welcome to DIY Gardening’s guide to getting rid of pesky burrowing moles.
These creatures look delightfully cute, but if your garden has a resident mole, you’ll be all too aware of how destructive they can be.
The bad news is that these pests can be an absolute nuisance, and their digging creates voids underground and mounds of freshly dug dirt on lawns, while in flowerbeds they push up plants and bulbs.
The good news is that moles hate each other, and they aren’t sociable animals, meaning that a typical garden shouldn’t have more than one or two moles in it.
This article will look at products and techniques to get rid of moles and stop them from coming back.
Confirm it is Moles in Your Garden
There are several animals that create piles and mounds of earth in gardens, including ants but gardens infested with moles tend to look like a WW1 battlefield.
The photos below are of moles and the mounds they create which are distinctive.
(Click to expand images)
How to Get Rid of Garden Moles
There are three ways to get rid of garden moles:
- Vibrating stakes
- Repellent granules
1) Mole Traps
Mole traps are the most effective option and are used by professional gardeners and pest control experts alike.
These devices are always made from metal and are placed inside the tunnel and covered with dirt. When the mole touches the trigger, the spring is released, and the metal bar crushes the mole, killing it.
The downside of these products is obviously that they kill the animal, and some gardeners may prefer a more humane approach, although it’s worth mentioning that the mole is killed quickly. The trap doesn’t just hold the mole in place causing it to die slowly; the pressure crushes the pest quickly.
There are two types of mole traps:
- Tunnel traps
- Claw traps
Both are effective at catching and killing moles, but the claw traps (aka scissor traps) are preferred by most professionals and are our recommendation. When used in a typical garden, we suggest setting at least five traps simultaneously; this should be more than enough to catch the mole within a few days.
I Analysed 1125 Online Reviews – Here’s What I Found:
As part of my research into mole deterrents and traps, I analysed 1125 reviews and ratings for the claw mole trap that customers had left on the internet.
Here’s what I found:
79% of raters gave this product a score of 4 or 5 stars out of 5, which is very high compared to other traps and deterrents.
On the other hand, only 5% gave this mole trap a rating of 1 star, which is very low and indicates that this product works well for most buyers.
Many of the mid-level reviewers stated that they didn’t like killing the moles and would prefer a more humane way to get rid of them; this may have resulted in them leaving a lower rating, even though the product worked well.
Some of the reviewers who left a negative or neutral review stated that they had better luck with a tunnel trap which is similar and also has good reviews.
None of those that left reviews and ratings online for these traps mentioned vibrating stakes or deterrent granules as a viable alternative.
2) Vibrating Stakes
Moving beyond traps, one option is to deploy vibrating stakes into the ground.
These are one of several humane options but I doubt they will work as efficiently as the traps.
Moles hate vibrations as they assume it’s a predator, and they’ll usually migrate away to a safer area.
This product has a small solar panel on the top of the stake, and every 30 seconds the stake releases a few pulses of vibration into the soil.
Each stake can be pushed deep into the soil with only the solar panel showing, and the product works in the rain and, thanks to its battery, also at night as well.
I think these would work as a deterrence rather than as a sole means of getting rid of moles who have already set up home in the garden.
I Analysed Over 350 Online Reviews of These Stakes – Here’s What I Found:
I was doubtful whether these stakes would work, so I analysed over 350 reviews.
Here’s what I found:
60% of raters gave this a score of 4 or 5 stars out of 5, which is pretty average.
On the other hand, 20% gave this mole deterrent a rating of 1 star, which indicates a fairly high failure rate.
Many of the mid-level reviewers stated that they preferred using humane products, even if they didn’t work as well. Some stated that they couldn’t use chemicals in their garden due to pets and children and that the stakes were a good safer alternative.
Overall, the vibrating stakes have mixed reviews online, and as such, they should be deployed as part of an overall strategy that includes other products, if they are used at all.
3) Deterrent Granules
Moles hate castor oil, so much so that they won’t eat any of their prey that is tainted with this oil.
Mole granules are laced with castor oil which breaks down into the soil and taints both the ground and insects that the moles eat, including grubs, worms and larvae.
The granules should be dug into the tunnels and also scattered around the surrounding areas at regular intervals.
Care should be taken not to scatter the granules everywhere as an escape route should be left.
- The cheapest option.
- Won’t harm the moles, pets or children.
- Effective in the rain.
- Not nearly as effective as the traps.
- Has to be dug into the tunnel for the best results, rather than just scattered on the surface.
- It may kill worms and other insects if overused.
I Analysed Over 350 Online Reviews of The Mole Granules – Here’s What I Discovered:
I analysed over 900 reviews and ratings online.
Here’s what I found:
51% of raters gave this a score of 4 or 5 stars out of 5, which is below average.
On the other hand, 32% gave the granules a rating of 1 or 2 stars, which indicates a very high failure rate.
Mid-level reviewers often stated that they weren’t sure if the granules worked or if the mole just wandered off or if other products they had deployed were doing the trick.
Overall, these granules have mixed to poor reviews online, and as such, they should be deployed as part of an overall strategy that includes other products, if they are used at all.
You may have better luck trying a homemade alternative instead of these granules.
There are several methods gardeners can try to get rid of moles, some more effective and practical than others:
Castor Oil Solution
Mix 3 parts castor oil with 1 part dish soap and stir into 4 litres of water.
This solution should be poured into the mole tunnels and also around the entrance points.
- Easy to mix up.
- As effective as the granules.
- Harmless to pets and children.
- You’ll need to reapply this solution frequently.
- You’ll also need to dig around to get access to the tunnels.
- Not the most effective option.
Remove Their Food Source
These grubs can be killed off by applying nematodes; small microscopic parasites that feed on the grubs and their larvae.
If you see lots of brown or white grubs on your lawn or under your plants, treat them with nematodes and take away the mole’s food source.
- Effective at getting rid of the food source.
- Harmless to pets and children.
- Will only work if the grubs are the reason the moles are in your garden.
- Nematodes are alive so will need to be kept in the fridge and applied soon after they arrive.
- The soil should be kept moist for a few days after application.
Moles can be killed or driven from their tunnels by gassing via a smoke bomb.
The device is lit and placed into the mole tunnels where it emits castor oil fumes which deter the moles and lines the tunnels with oil residue that also forces the worms and grubs to migrate away.
- Low success rates. Even professional mole catchers prefer other methods.
Mole bait usually mimics worms and is laced with poison that kills the mole within a matter of hours, often sooner.
The baits need to be placed into the shallower tunnels, so some digging around is required.
- It works well if you can find an active tunnel.
- You’ll need to dig around.
- Other wild animals may eat the poison.
Moles also dislike the odour from coffee, citrus fruits and diesel and a small amount could be placed into the tunnels to force them to migrate.
- You’ll need to reapply frequently.
- Won’t be as effective as traps.
Methods That Don’t Work
There are plenty of plants that emit strong odours that the moles may be repulsed by, the onion family is one of them.
Unfortunately, it isn’t practical to grow alliums or other repellent plants in every metre of most gardens so selective planting like this is of little practical value and at best, moles will just take a slight detour to stay away from the plants.
Any trap or method that causes harm to wild animals is also illegal so asphyxiation and burning are options that should be discarded.
Get a Professional In
In 2022 I contacted 42 pest control experts from various locations around the UK and asked them how much they charge to get rid of moles.
Most of them recommended traps.
Some charged per mole, with the average price being £135. Many of these firms offered discounts for extra moles killed or caught.
Most of the firms charged a set rate for laying traps and checking on them, with the average cost for a 3-visit program costing £165.
Obviously, these prices are just averages, and the prices in London and the southeast were generally higher while pest control experts in the north were cheaper, but the average cost was £165.
Not sure where you can find trustworthy pest control firms?
Tap the button below and fill in the form with details of your mole problem. Local pest controllers will then contact you with a price:
Why are moles attracted to my garden?
Most likely due to these factors:
- Your soil is full of worms.
- You have a grub infestation that the moles are feeding on.
- The soil is reliably moist and easy for the moles to dig into.
How deep do moles tunnel?
Moles dig networks of tunnels with the main tunnels being no more than 60cm deep and the minor tunnels often closer to the ground.
How long do moles live for?
Most moles live up to 3 years and on rare occasions, some may survive for up to 6 years.
Are moles nocturnal and do they hibernate?
Moles aren’t nocturnal as they’re active for a few hours then they rest for a few hours, this cycling repeats itself day and night throughout the year, including in the winter.
How and when do moles breed?
Moles aren’t sociable animals and tend to stay away from other moles except for a short spell in the breeding season, which runs from late February to early June.
Female moles typically produce three to four moles once per year, and they nest in the deeper tunnels until mature enough to dig for themselves.
You’re unlikely to see more than one mole in a typical garden outside of the breeding season.
Meet The Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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This guide written by Daniel Woodley and was reviewed and fact-checked by Paul Farley.
Explore: Paul Farley’s profile and qualifications.
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