Tag Archives: gophers

How to Gopher Proof Your Raised Garden Beds

How to Gopher Proof Your Raised Garden Beds

We have a real gopher problem in our backyard. We get their mounds all over the yard, and of course if we plant directly into the soil, we know we risk losing that entire plant to the gophers. Building a raised garden bed, however, can make it much simpler to avoid damage from gophers.

This solution is very simple. Build your raised garden bed, and put a good quality hardware cloth on the bottom, so that gophers cannot get through. Attach this to the bottom of your raised garden bed with staples and overlap enough that gophers cannot get through.

It’s that simple to keep them out. They may still get any roots that grow past the hardware cloth, but most of the roots of your plants will be completely safe.

Of course, you’ll probably want to deal with the gophers for the sake of the rest of your yard. I prefer natural methods, and much miss the neighbor cat who used to handle my gopher problems for us, and was a total sweetheart besides. My landlord says we can only have an outdoor only cat, and with the coyote pack living nearby, there’s no way I would do that. I would have to bring the cat in at night.

Sometimes you’ll be fortunate enough to have an owl or snake help you out. We caught a very young gopher snake in our yard once, but we’ve never seen it since – pity. It was beautiful. We didn’t have much of a gopher problem at that time, so it probably didn’t stick around.

Some also say used coffee grounds work as a gopher repellent. My husband tried this once, and it seems to work pretty well. Unfortunately, we aren’t coffee drinkers, so getting coffee grounds takes some actual effort; it’s not something we just have around the house. Some plants love the acid in coffee grounds, so you may even benefit your garden by using them.

You can also trap gophers. You can follow this link for some advice on the U.C. Davis website, and you can check with your local hardware store or garden center, as well as Amazon.com for traps. I’m not a fan of poisoning gophers – too much can go wrong for other animals.

There’s really only so much you can do about gophers coming back – they’re persistent critters, and these steps won’t protect against other pests. The best you can do is take steps to keep them away from your most vulnerable plants, and learn to handle it when they do come around.

Would You Like an Owl in Your Back Yard?

My daughter recently celebrated her birthday. She wanted to see her old friends back where we used to live, and since that’s closer to family too, we went along with it. It was particularly nice because one friend’s parents offered to host.

The party went well, my daughter had hours to play with some old friends. But the biggest hit was the owl box in the back part of the yard. It had a mother barn owl, father barn owl and two almost grown baby barn owls. They were really neat to see.

Advantages of Owls

Owls are of course predators. They love to eat rodents. Our hosts reported that the gopher population in their yard appears to have significantly decreased since the barn owls took up residence in the box.

Seeing the owls was also really fascinating for the kids. An unusual bit of nature for them to see. At least two owls were visible any time anyone looked, and sometimes you could see all four crowding the door area.

Disadvantages of Owls

There was one big problem – the smell near the owl box was awful. They are predators, after all, and the remains of any food uneaten by the fledgelings plus the scents from their natural bodily functions was pretty bad. But I hear that it gets better after the babies leave, so hopefully that won’t be a problem for long.

Owls can also be noisy. I gather our friends were quite glad to have not had any complaints on this score from their neighbors.

Where to Put an Owl Box

If you want to buy an owl box, make sure you have a place to put one where the owls will feel safe, and any odor won’t bother you or the neighbors. The box we saw was at the back of a fair size yard, and you could not smell anything near the house, which I’m sure was a great relief to the owners.

It needs to be at least 15 feet above ground, and owls certainly won’t mind being higher yet. Don’t put it right where you’re going to be disturbing the owls all the time, and put it near a tree so the owls can enjoy the tree as well.

Don’t expect owls to move in right away. I know this particular box had been up for a year or so before a pair of owls moved in. It just takes time for a possible home to be found sometimes.