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Gophers are small burrowing rodents that can cause extensive damage to your yard and patio. Their tunnels not only create unsightly mounds but can also undermine the stability of structures like your brick paver patio. In this guide, we will explore effective methods to identify and eliminate gopher tunnels, as well as preventive measures to keep them from coming back.

Understanding Gophers and Their Behavior

Before we start dealing with gopher tunnels, it is important to learn about these pests and understand their behavior. Gophers are small mammals that are known for their characteristic burrowing behavior. They are around six to eight inches long and have large front teeth that they use to dig tunnels underground.

What are Gophers?

Gophers belong to the family Geomyidae and are native to North and Central America. There are several species of gophers, but the most common one is the pocket gopher. They have fur-lined cheek pouches that they use to carry food, hence the name “pocket” gophers.

Signs of Gopher Damage

Before you can effectively deal with gopher tunnels under your patio, it is important to recognize the signs of gopher damage. Some common signs include:

  • Mounds of dirt – Gophers push the excavated soil up to the surface, creating small mounds.
  • Wilting or dying plants – Gophers often feed on plant roots, causing plants to wither and die.
  • Sunken areas – Gopher tunnels can cause the ground to sink or become uneven.
  • Exposed roots – As gophers burrow, they may expose the roots of plants, making them vulnerable to damage.

Identifying Gopher Tunnels

Once you suspect that you have gophers in your yard, it is important to accurately identify their tunnels. This will help you choose the most appropriate method to get rid of them.

Locating Gopher Tunnels in Your Yard

Gopher tunnels are often found near the surface of the ground, but they can run as deep as 6-12 inches. Look for crescent-shaped mounds of soil with a plugged hole in the center. These are characteristic signs of gopher activity.

Distinguishing Gopher Tunnels from Other Underground Pests

It is important to differentiate gopher tunnels from tunnels created by other underground pests, such as moles and voles. Gopher tunnels are larger in diameter and have a distinctive horseshoe-shaped mound. Moles, on the other hand, create raised ridges and push the soil to the surface, while voles create surface runways.

Methods to Deal with Gophers

Now that you have identified gopher tunnels in your yard, it is time to take action to eliminate these pests. Here are some effective methods:

Natural Ways to Deter Gophers

There are several natural methods you can try to deter gophers from your yard:

Habitat Modification to Discourage Gophers

Removing attractive elements from your yard can discourage gophers from burrowing. This includes reducing water sources, removing food sources like plants they feast on, and keeping your yard well-maintained.

Using Gopher Repellents

There are various commercial repellents available that can deter gophers from your yard. These repellents use natural ingredients like castor oil or predator urine to create an unpleasant environment for gophers.

Trapping Gophers Effectively

If natural deterrents are not effective, trapping is a widely-used method to control gophers. Here’s how you can trap them:

Probing for Gopher Burrows

Use a metal rod or probe to locate gopher burrows. Probe the ground until you feel resistance, indicating the presence of a tunnel. Repeat this process throughout your yard to identify multiple burrows.

Using Traps for Gophers

Once you have located the gopher tunnels, set traps near the openings. There are different types of traps available, such as box traps and snap traps. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper placement and baiting of the traps.

Alternative Control Methods

If natural deterrents and trapping methods do not yield satisfactory results, there are alternative control methods available:

Baiting with Toxic Baits

Some professional pest control companies offer toxic baits that can be used to eliminate gophers. These baits contain chemicals that are harmful to gophers but should be used with caution to avoid harm to pets and other wildlife.

Fumigation Options

In some cases, fumigation may be necessary to get rid of gophers. This method involves introducing gas or smoke into the gopher tunnels to kill the pests. It is important to hire a professional for this method to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Prevention and Long-term Solutions

Once you have successfully eliminated gophers from your yard, it is important to implement preventive measures to avoid future infestations:

Installing Exclusion Fencing

Exclusion fencing can be an effective way to keep gophers out of specific areas, such as your patio or garden. Use hardware cloth or wire mesh to create a barrier that gophers cannot burrow through.

Attracting Natural Predators to Control Gophers

Encouraging natural predators like snakes, owls, and cats to frequent your yard can help keep gopher populations in check. Provide nesting sites and food sources to attract these predators.

Taking Immediate Action to Flood Gopher Burrows

If you spot fresh gopher tunnels or mounds, flooding them with water can disrupt their tunnels and make the area inhospitable for gophers. This can help discourage further infestation.

Recovering Your Patio and Garden

After dealing with gopher tunnels, you may need to restore your patio and garden. Here are some tips:

Restoring Your Brick Paver Patio After Gopher Damage

To restore your brick paver patio, start by removing any gopher mounds and filling the tunnels with compacted soil. Replace any disturbed or damaged bricks, and re-level the patio if necessary. Lastly, apply a layer of sand or gravel and sweep it into the cracks between the pavers.

Garden Recovery Tips After Gopher Infestation

If your garden has been affected by gophers, remove any plants that have been severely damaged or are beyond saving. Replace them with new plants and take measures to protect the roots, such as using wire mesh barriers or planting in containers.

FAQs About Gophers and Their Removal

Can Natural Predators Help Eliminate Gophers?

Yes, natural predators like snakes, owls, and cats can help keep gopher populations in check. By encouraging these predators to frequent your yard, you can reduce the likelihood of future gopher infestations.

What Benefits Do Gophers Bring to the Ecosystem?

Gophers play a role in the ecosystem by aerating the soil and creating habitats for other animals. However, their burrowing behavior can also cause significant damage to lawns and gardens if left unchecked.

Common Signs of a Gopher Problem

Common signs of a gopher problem include the presence of mounds of dirt, wilting or dying plants, sunken areas in your yard, and exposed roots. If you notice these signs, it is likely that you have gophers in your yard.

Distinguishing Gopher, Mole, and Vole Damage

Gopher damage is characterized by crescent-shaped mounds and tunnels, whereas mole damage is indicated by raised ridges on the surface of the ground. Vole damage, on the other hand, is characterized by surface runways created by these small rodents.


Dealing with gopher tunnels under your patio may require a combination of methods, including natural deterrents, trapping, and alternative control options. By accurately identifying the tunnels and implementing preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of future gopher infestations. Remember to always follow instructions and take necessary safety precautions when dealing with gophers. With proper persistence and effective strategies, you can regain control of your yard and enjoy a gopher-free patio and garden.

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