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How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Backyard?

We’ve had moles in our garden and it’s not a good look for the lawn, so how do you get rid of them?

To get rid of moles humanely you can trap and relocate them, or use a sonic spike. Alternatively, you can try various smells they hate at the end of their tunnels, including coffee grounds,​ predator urine, peppermint oil, castor oil, cayenne pepper, garlic, tabasco sauce, red pepper, or cat litter. 

Let’s dig down (pun intended!) into the subject of getting rid of moles in more detail, and discover some of the most humane ways to do it so you can live with yourself afterwards…

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard?

T​he fastest way to get rid of moles in your yard is to trap them, either trapping them alive and then relocating them or using a kill trap.

How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Yard Permanently?

M​oles and other wild creatures just want to live a quiet life. And procreate a little. We think the best way to get any wild creature out of your yard is to disrupt its quiet life. Gently and humanely – bother the heck out of it. Chances are, it will up sticks.

T​o get moles to leave forever, take away their quiet, safe space and their twelve meals a day. Mow down the long grasses they hide in. Moles have poor eyesight and rely on vibrations to detect prey. Bother them with noise from a sonic spike. 

Food is the primary motivator for moles. Moles are insectivores. I​f you have moles in your yard, it’s possible you are overwatering, since bugs flourish in moist soil. Check your sprinkler line for leaks. Try cutting back on the yard watering or consider installing a French drain to keep your lawn dryer.

Use smells they hate to your advantage. Annoy them with coffee grounds. Pour stinky solutions (see the following sections) into their tunnels not once or twice but lots of times. Be persistent.

O​nce the moles are gone, make sure they don’t come back by trenching around your yard and filling the trench with wire mesh and rocks. Or mole barrier cloth. Plant alliums in a border around your yard.

Will Moles in My Yard Go Away on Their Own?

Y​es, they might. Moles eat their body weight in insects every day. Every day. If they don’t eat every two hours or so, they die. 

Moles are driven by their stomachs. So, if you have a well-drained, mowed and aerated lawn, chances are that moles will only find a few weeks’ worth of food. 

Then, they will leave.

I​n fact, there may be some truth to the claim that the success of one or other home remedy (see the long list below) is simply the result of the resident mole just moving on down the highway.

What is a Home Remedy to Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard?

There are lots of home remedies to get rid of moles. They use bad smells, digging pets and gentle harassment to get the moles to move on.

Homemade repellents have mixed success and need to be reapplied. You can try coffee grounds,​ predator urine, peppermint oil, castor oil, cayenne pepper, garlic, Tabasco sauce, red pepper, and cat litter. 

Dogs love to dig up critters – some have been bred for centuries to kill them, too. Sure, the cure (giant holes) may be worse than the disease (small tunnels), but the harassment will get the mole to move on. 

To annoy moles yourself, step on their tunnels, rake their mounds and cave in their holes. Every day. 

How Does Dawn Dish Soap Get Rid of Moles?

T​he Farmer’s Almanac suggests mixing 3 tablespoons of castor oil with 1 tablespoon of Dawn dish soap into a gallon of water.

U​se a spray bottle or carefully pour some mixture into the ramp that leads down to an active tunnel. You can check whether a tunnel is active by using your foot to press it down flat in the evening. Then, check it in the morning. If the mole has used it, then the tunnel will be raised again.

What Smells Keep Moles Away?

M​oles will stay away from strong-smelling flowers, like alliums. They hate the smell of castor oil, Pine Sol, and vinegar. Try using eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils in a water spray with a hint of dishwashing soap.

Will Vinegar Get Rid of Moles in the Yard?

V​inegar is a great fix for many household and yard issues, including moles. Vinegar not only has a strong scent but it is a weak acid. Mix two parts vinegar with four parts water and spray the mole holes every two days or so. 

Keep in mind that vinegar will also kill the grass, flowers and insects where you spray it. 

Do Mothballs Work on Moles?

Yes, mothballs will work on moles. 

But mothballs are basically candy-like balls of solidified pesticides. Mothballs are tempting for small children and puppies to eat. Also, if you drop a mothball or moth flakes into a mole hole, the toxic chemicals will eventually dissolve and seep into your lawn.

How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Yard With Juicy Fruit Gum?

We had to watch a few videos to understand this claim, but it does seem to work. Putting a half stick of Juicy Fruit gum down a mole hole will kill the mole when it eats it. Moles simply can’t digest it.

How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Yard With Boric Acid?

For this method of killing moles, you pour boric acid directly into the mole holes or make bait balls (using insects), then soak the balls in the acid and drop the balls into the mole holes. 

How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Yard With Dogs?

D​ogs love to dig in smelly holes. Most dogs will do a great job of harassing moles. Some dogs – like terriers – and some cats will kill them, too. 

How Do I Get Rid of Moles in My Yard With Castor Oil?

T​his method has many converts, but be sure to consider the downside. Castor oil has a smell that moles hate. The problem is that you may not like either (unlike, say, coffee grounds). Also, castor oil kills bugs and it’s flammable.

Do Coffee Grounds Repel Moles? 

M​any people claim that the strong smell of coffee grounds is a great way to repel moles.

O​f course, the sharp smell won’t last long, so you’ll have to replenish the coffee grounds routinely. Sprinkle fresh grounds around active entrance and exit holes you find in your yard or garden. 

To check whether the hole is a current one, kick some dirt in the hole the night before. Then, the next morning, see if your mole has cleaned it out.

Will Grub Killer Get Rid of Moles?

M​oles love to eat grubs. It’s their number one favorite food source. So, get rid of the grubs, and you get rid of the moles, right? Only maybe.

T​he problem is that grubs aren’t the only food moles eat. Moles are insectivores. The National Wildlife Federation says that they can eat their weight in bugs. Every day. 

They love grubs, yes, but they will eat millipedes, snails, slugs, spiders, centipedes, beetles, earthworms, and bug larvae too. 

How Do You Poison a Mole?

W​hile laying down poison will kill your moles, it will also kill things you may not intend to. Poisons are mostly water soluble. That means that dissolved poison may move to places you don’t want it. 

If you have small children or pets routinely in your yard, we don’t recommend that you lay down poison.

I​nstead, if you have tried organic methods and they have all failed, first try a humane trap and relocate the pesky critter miles down the road. If that doesn’t work, then simply kill your moles quickly with a mechanical trap.

What is the Best Mole Trap? (Where Do You Put Mole Traps?)

There are several humane traps on the market or you can DIY one. M​ole traps work best in active tunnels in any season (s​ee the section below on how to spot active tunnels).

To DIY a humane trap locate an active tunnel. For the first trap, you’ll need a large bucket (like a Homer bucket) to trap the mole in. After locating an active tunnel, dig a hole large enough for the bucket and deep enough so that when the mole runs along the tunnel, it will fall into the bucket. Cover the top of the bucket with some plywood and then dirt.

Do Sonic Mole Chasers Work?

Opinions on whether sonic spikes really work are mixed, about 50/50. We like the idea because we believe that bothering wildlife works. And, sonic spikes won’t break the bank.

For the best effect, place the device at an entrance of the mole tunnel system. Make sure that the entrance is an active one. To find out, kick some dirt into the entrance and see if it’s cleaned out the next day.

T​he device may work to drive the mole to abandon the active hole. When that happens, find the new active hole and move the device. Be persistent.

For those of us with dogs and cats, a common question is whether this device will bother them as well. Most products say that dogs and cats can’t hear them. To be sure, check out the reviews or call the manufacturer. 

Here’s more on ultrasonic mole repellers.

What Time of Day Do Moles Tunnel?

To eat their weight in worms, grubs and insects, moles dig every day. Moles can dig at an astonishing 18 feet per hour. 

Research suggests that moles dig and sleep in four-hour shifts. They are their most active when their prey is most active – in the early morning or early evening in the spring or fall. 

How Deep Are Mole Tunnels?

M​ost mole tunnels are from a few inches deep to 18 inches deep. 

The shallow tunnels that you often see on the surface, thanks to the fresh, dark dirt, are the feeding runways. T​he deeper tunnels link up doorways, feeding tunnels and nesting areas. The deeper tunnel system is below the frost level, so it won’t freeze in the winter. 

This fascinating video shows how and how hard moles dig…

How Do I Find My Main Mole Tunnel?

If your mole tunnels are lines of dirt on the surface, then tamp down the mound of tunnel soil with your shoes one evening. Then, the next morning, check which tunnels the mole fixed. A main mole tunnel will have fresh dirt and be a raised mound again. 

If all you can see is dead grass where the tunnels are, then use a tent peg – or a sharp stick – to poke holes to find the tunnel. When you poke a tent peg into the tunnel itself, you will feel the lack of resistance. Follow the dead grass and mark where the spike finds empty space.

Y​ou can also use a sharp stick or tent peg to drill a hole large enough to fit your finger. Use your finger to figure out which way the tunnel runs. And, if this is the main tunnel, then the next day your finger hole will be gone.

H​ere’s an interesting article from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department on moles. 

What Do I Do if I Find a Mole Above Ground?

You will rarely find a mole on the surface of your yard. They don’t like the sunshine and are vulnerable to predators on the surface. But sometimes they lose their way and accidentally end up above ground. Teenage moles may have been kicked out to look for new digs (haha). 

I​f you find a mole above ground, and you are trying to get rid of the pesky critters, then find a large glass bowl or a metal box to trap it. Then, drive it at least 5 miles away to release it into a new home. 

Are Moles Actually Good for Your Yard?

M​oles can be good for your yard. Mole’s favorite food – grubs – are actually bad for your lawn. And, moles aerate your lawn. 

So if you have cycled through all the homemade remedies, still have moles and are reluctant to kill them, consider the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. 

Wabi-sabi says that we should embrace imperfection. Live and let live. Let your garden be a nature haven, even for the moles. A​s one pro-moler suggested, if moles are digging up your lawn, grow a wildflower meadow there instead.

Are there home remedies to repel moles?
Are there home remedies to repel moles?

Do Moles Live in Groups?

M​oles are antisocial, solitary creatures. They only seek others when it’s time to mate, from March to May.

How Long Will Moles Live in a Garden?

Moles eat a lot of bugs. A lot. If your garden has healthy soil and is well drained, then the bug population may not keep the mole in food for more than a couple of weeks.

Do Moles Bite?

T​hey do bite. But mostly they bite their prey – earthworms – not people. 

Moles can be pretty terrifying when you catch them. When caught, they squeal and hiss. Although they may bite you, their bites are small and there are no known cases of rabies from moles.

The earthworms are not so lucky. Mole saliva has a toxin that paralyzes – not kills – earthworms. Paralyzed, the moles can stockpile their earthworm snacks by the hundreds. Before eating the paralyzed earthworm, the mole squeezes out the dirt from the earthworm’s body. 

Bon appétit!

Final Words

Ultimately – although moles are really cute you rarely see them above ground anyway, and you definitely don’t want loads of their hills all over you lawn.

That’s why we favor using some of the humane methods outlined in this article to get rid of them without killing them.

Either that or simply hope they’ll go away into your neighbors garden – but that could just be wishful thinking! 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >