Getting rid of underground pests efficiently

Updated Dec 27, 2023
whack a mole
Do you feel like you're in an endless game of whack-a-mole with underground pests? If so, it's time to implement effective solutions.
Getty Images

Stopping above-soil pests can be easy with a couple of barriers. A fence can prevent a rabbit from hopping into the garden and destroying the crops. A net can stop birds from pecking at the plants as well. But what if pests hide underneath the ground?

Pests such as moles, voles, and gophers can significantly ruin your client’s yard – and the main problem is that it’s both hard to see and remove them. To get to them, you’d have to dig through all the cracks and holes in the lawn – something you surely don’t want to do, not if you don’t want to make your clients angry.

Still, you do not have to destroy the lawn altogether in order to get rid of the pests. Here are some better tips you can follow.

Mole peeping out of groundMoles don't eat plants, but their underground tunnels can still damage plant roots and tear up your client's yard.Getty Images

1. Eliminate their food sources

Mole in yardPests like moles feed on grubs found within your client's lawn and garden areas.Getty Images

Moles and other underground pests love eating grubs and when they finish with the grubs, they will begin eating other smaller pests in the garden such as earthworms, larvae, and beetles. As long as they find the garden flourishing with their favorite foods, they'll have no reason to go away.

The first solution you should seek is to eliminate their food source. When they see that there’s no food for them there, they’ll relocate. Sure, this might mean that some other unfortunate neighbor may have to deal with them, but at least it won’t be the homeowner’s problem anymore. 

2. Use repellents 

In some cases, the classic repellent option you have in stock will work. But you can also go for natural repellents. Underground pests surely have scents or tastes they do not stand, take castor oil for example. While it may not kill moles, it upsets their stomach and they might not want to dig underground tunnels in the area anymore.

Bring on the repellents and find where the pests’ entrance holes are. Each time they come outside, they will be bothered by the scent and taste.

Spraying it on the ground may also make the place feel uninhabitable for them. Aside from your treatment, you may also advise the homeowner to make their own pest repellent from three tablespoons of castor oil and one tablespoon of dish soap in 1 gallon of water. 

Teach your clients how to evenly spray the yard as communication and proper treatment will be the key if pests are to be repelled in the long term.

3. Make the environment unfriendly

Gopher peeping out of hole in yardWhile yard critters might be cute, they can also be highly destructive.Getty Images

Unfriendly doesn’t mean you should make the garden look bad. The garden can still look great, we just need to make it somehow that the pests don’t see it that way. If the garden is uncomfortable to them, not only will they steer clear from coming there, but they’ll also relocate.

A good way to do this is to use sonic spikes. Installed underground, these units will send electronic pulses throughout the earth and irritate the pest. The best part about spikes is that your clients won't be affected by them since humans can’t hear them. On the other hand, moles won’t like these gadgets. They won’t be killed by the devices – but they should be annoyed enough to relocate. The best part of these sonic spikes is that once they are installed, they won’t affect the aesthetics of the landscape – leading to a happy customer.

4. Use plant barriers

Plant barriers are efficient because they repel underground pests, as well as many above-ground types. Certain plants such as marigolds, daffodils, and other plants from the allium family have very strong smells – and therefore, repel pests. The same thing applies to strong-scented ornamental grasses. Moles in particular hate these plants, but other pests will also be repelled by them.

A good way to keep underground pests away is to plant daffodils and other similar plants on the edge of the garden. Not only will they look pretty, but their scent will also repel insects with an increased sense of smell. They represent a natural barrier that will keep unwanted residents away. Plus, they make for a great aesthetic in the spring and will make the homeowner happy with your services. 

5. Make a trench

This method may take a bit more time, but in areas that are prone to underground infestations, trenches can be highly useful. They will act as a physical barrier, keeping the underground pests from advancing by using a chemical-free method. Not only are they invisible, but these trenches can also last for years.

Dig a trench around your client’s garden, at least six inches wide and 2-3 feet deep. Afterward, fill the hole with rocks, cement, or even wire mesh. If moles try to dig their way towards their garden, they’ll be stopped by this barrier.

6. Instruct the client to keep a tidy lawn

Prevention is key, an untidy lawn attracts underground pests for two reasons. First, it gives them a cover – so obviously, tall grass and thick mulch will work wonders for them. Second, it attracts other pests – and if the lawn and garden are riddled with pests that can serve as “dinner,” then for sure the underground pests will also make their home safe there.

As a result, make sure your client understands their lawn needs to be mowed regularly. If everything is clean and smooth, then the pests will not be as tempted to make their home there anymore.

At the same time, you might want to talk with your client about keeping the moisture and watering at a decent level. Having green and lush grass is the dream, but the excess humidity will only attract all kinds of pests – something we’re all trying to prevent.

7. Attract their predators

Moles, voles, and gophers are certainly not at the top of the food chain – and obviously, they know that as well. Something as simple as a cat or a dog can frighten them into making their home somewhere else. If your client has any pets around the house, advise them to place the litter box against the burrow. Once the pests catch the scent, they’ll go away – obviously getting the message.

If there aren’t any pets, another good idea would be to talk with your client and see if there is a possibility to place a barn owl nest in the area. These birds will prey on the underground pests – and once these pests catch on, they’ll relocate farther away from the danger (if they survive their predators!).

The bottom line?

Ridding a garden of unwanted residents can become a hard and lengthy process. In most situations, the right treatment strategy can do wonders. Also, depending on your client’s situation and needs, perhaps you won’t even have to opt for drastic measures to get rid of the pests. All you have to do is make the garden unappealing for them. Remember that communication with your client is essential, educating them on the best practices and providing useful advice, everyone can prevent recurring infestations.

Luqman Butter

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