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Gopher & Bird Control in Your Organic Garden

By on May 20, 2011

The small fry of the animal world can inflict big damage on your garden.

The gophers drill down, and birds can go anywhere, anytime.


You might be able to scare some visiting humans too. Birds will be frightened by our inflatable predators—we have a snake (with a forked tongue!) and two owls (one moves its head in an eerie way—bring it out for Halloween too?).

Alarming balloons with reflecting eyes, and an “octopus” with shiny legs, will spook your neighborhood birds. Move the spooks around every week so the birds don’t get used to them.


Bird netting

This is an effective way to save fruit for yourself, instead of donating it all to your feathered friends. The black plastic netting becomes almost invisible in your garden and it’s easy to install over berry bushes and small fruit trees.

In our video Tricia demonstrates how to attach bird netting to a frame. Pop PVC frames on before the fruit colors, and remove them after harvest. Or leave PVC and metal frames up year-round in a dedicated vegetable garden, like Tricia’s.

Underground wire baskets

We have gopher wire in rolls and as prefabricated baskets. The baskets are designed for protection of a select plant or tree, and the roll can be used around rows, beds, or the entire perimeter of your field, as subterranean fencing. The rolls come in 3’ or 4’ x 100’ (note: gophers have been known to burrow up to 6’ deep in soft soil); the baskets come in several sizes from 1 Gallon to 15 Gallon.



In the video we demonstrate how to set two kinds of gopher traps, the Cinch and the Sweeney. Both kinds of traps are intended to be fatal.


We have both Strychnine and NON-Strychnine baits. These baits should be used with an applicator, a metal probe that is inserted into the tunnel. The bait is eaten by the gopher and the result is fatal.


Gopher Gassers are not considered organic. We offer these for home gardeners who may be extremely frustrated by their gopher situation. Gopher gassers contain potassium nitrate, carbon, sulfur (all components of gunpowder) and dextrin (a polysaccharide) which, when used sparingly, are not harmful to soils. The idea is to activate the gassing unit in a tunnel, and gas spreads through the tunnel system with fatal consequences.


If you have a gopher problem, repellents alone will not shoo the critters away. As part of a coordinated control plan, repellents can deter more gophers from coming into your area, while you get rid of the existing population. We have liquid and solid repellents in various sizes. The question for the gopher becomes: Is the temptation of the food in your garden stronger than the deterrent of a bad taste/smell (castor oil)?

  Comments (16)


I don’t suppose there are HUMANE ways of getting rid of them without killing?

Posted by oxmyx1 on May. 20, 2011 at 7:12:03 PM


“Our yard has become a sanctuary for the buck-toothed rodents.  Neighbor’s construction projects have triggered apparent mass migration into our orchard trees and raised beds.  Bizarre ideas abound on the topic of gopher ““control;”” like the one about juicy fruit chewing gum and others which are more funny and less effective.  Here’s my contribution to the lore of gopher ““control”” aka killing.

Always wear gloves when handling traps to keep human scent to a minimum.  Observe what the gophers are eating and use this as bait for your traps.  We’ve discovered that the invasive weed FENNEL is an effective bait.  Crush this with your gloves and onto the trap as you set the trap and place it behind the trap in the gopher tunnel.  Carefully cover with a paver or rock and block out daylight with available material like gopher dirt leaves etc.  Your first shot with traps in an active tunnel is your best chance.  The gophers seem to learn about traps and how to avoid them…...TIM”

Posted by froogAL on May. 22, 2011 at 9:09:05 AM


“The most effective non-violent method for dealing with gophers is exclusion. Here’s info about that from UC Davis: ““Exclusion
Underground fencing might be justified for valuable ornamental shrubs or landscape trees. To protect existing plantings bury hardware cloth or 3/4-inch mesh poultry wire at least 2 feet deep with an additional 6 inches of mesh or wire bent at a 90-degree angle away from the planting. This will help keep gophers from digging around the fencing boundary. Also extend the fencing at least 1 foot aboveground to deter gophers moving overland. This method is not perfect however because persistent gophers can burrow below the wire; also the wire can restrict and damage root growth of trees.

You can protect small areas such as flower beds by complete underground screening of the bed

Posted by Charlotte on May. 31, 2011 at 12:13:56 PM


Any solutions for squirrels? They strip our apricot tree each year and now have moved to our new little apple trees and peach trees!  They are completely unafraid of humans. We can almost walk right up to them. Throwing stones seems to be the only way to scare them off but we can’t sit there all day, throwing stones! Any suggestions?

Posted by Sarah on Sep. 03, 2011 at 2:14:08 PM


enclose your garden with chicken wire and conduit

Posted by chip geraghty on Sep. 30, 2011 at 5:36:53 PM


Squirrels are tough. Chip’s suggestion is echoed by UC Davis (exclusion): “Squirrels can be discouraged from digging up newly seeded or established crops by covering the rows with cagelike freestanding covers made of one-inch hexagon chicken wire.”

Here’s the link to the full UC Davis discussion of squirrels as garden pests.

Posted by on Oct. 03, 2011 at 11:06:38 AM


The only solution for squirrels I have found is a pellet gun or a good dog. I never had a problem when I had two outside dogs. When they died of old age, the peach trees were stripped overnight. I have tried coyote urine but that worked only for awhile. A good dog is the best bet.

Posted by Yvonne Tallent, Texas on Jan. 03, 2012 at 6:48:50 PM

Yvonne, Woof! Thanks for the tip!

Posted by on Jan. 04, 2012 at 9:28:27 AM


I had GREAT luck with this method and I learn about it by my own invention…I clipped a large dog (1/2 standard poodle and 1/2 golden retreiver he was) and i had the idea to take wads of the hair and put it under the chestnut trees that the squirrels had been demolishing. They would climb the tree and cut small branches so the big chestnut burrs would fall, then they would go down and get the chestnuts and ran away with them or they would open them and eat the nuts on the spot. I put large handfuls of dog hair on the ground at the base of the tree and under the long branches that had clumps of nuts hanging so if the squirrels jumped to the tree from another tree and mangaged to cut the nuts, they fell in or near the dog hair and they would not get them. I would go each morning and pick up the nuts from the ground that they had cut. This really worked so put the dog hair around the tree drip line, under limbs and at the base of the tree! They smell the dog and they won’t go near it. You need to refresh the hair periodically. You’ll know when that time has come. It works!! Also human hair in around the border of your garden will keep rabbits out, unless they are tame and don’t nmind human scent.

Posted by melissa on Feb. 20, 2012 at 12:08:49 PM


No where do you have suggestion for deterring a cat who defecates in
my garden. I have tried cayenne and black pepper, lemon peels so far.
Any suggestions?

Posted by Rose on Mar. 09, 2012 at 5:54:15 PM

Rose, Farmer Fred Hoffman (Sacramento’s radio garden expert) runs through the usual suggestions on cat proofing and shows what does work in his garden

Posted by on Mar. 16, 2012 at 11:00:10 AM

Thanks Melissa!

Posted by on Jan. 15, 2013 at 9:05:24 PM


Moles have become an annual problem.  Grub control has not slowed the spread of moles and there tunnels.  What recommendations do you have?

Posted by Arlan Juhl on Mar. 16, 2013 at 10:41:50 AM

Arian, Moles are a problem and difficult to manage.  The Chase product (#PBR460) and the Liquid Fence Repellant (PBR470 or 471) can all be effective at making the environment distasteful to moles, but you would not want to put those into your garden beds.  The castor oil permeates the ground and the moles move away from it. The products need to applied every 60 days, or more often if there are diluting rains.

Traps are useful. If a particular area is sensitive (small roots that the mole can kill), you could use bamboo skewers into the soil all around the plant to keep the moles out for awhile until the root system is more established.

Posted by on Mar. 27, 2013 at 10:52:45 AM


I need some information on the bird netting. In the past I have tried to use the netting available at local nurseries and garden departments of hardware stores. This stuff comes in a little package and it is all crumpled up, impossible to unfold neatly, and gets caught on everything when I’m trying to put it around or over a shrub or tree.
Besides that it is so flimsy that a determined starling, blackbird or scrub jay can tear right through it.
I need something sturdy, and it needs to be easy to spread out and lift over a frame.

Posted by Fran on May. 06, 2013 at 7:36:10 PM

Fran, If you don’t like the lightweight bird netting (which works best on a frame) we recommend our 30% shade cloth which is easy to drape over a frame and the birds do not get caught in it. Take a look and see if you are interested

Posted by on May. 10, 2013 at 10:00:25 AM

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