How to Get Rid Of Moles in Your Yard & Garden: 9 Effective Ways

Last Modified on March 14, 2023 by Zachary Smith

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Moles: while some people think they look cute, they can cause severe damage to your lawn and landscaping.

Moles construct intricate networks of tunnels and mounds in the ground and quickly kill or damage the plants, grass, and trees in your outdoor space.

If you want to reclaim your yard, the only solution is to learn how to get rid of moles.

Don’t worry – it is possible to figure out how to eradicate them humanely.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, our team has helped thousands of customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area reduce mole populations and enjoy their landscaping once more through our mole control services.

In this post, we’ll share our top tips for getting rid of moles.

First Things First – What Are Moles?

a mole poking up out of a burrow in a lawn

Moles (members of the family Talpidae) are small burrowing animals that many people believe are related to mice or rats. While moles and mice look somewhat similar (they’re both small and furry), they’re very different creatures.

While rats and mice are rodents, moles are mammals that spend most of their lives underground, digging burrows. Their close relatives include shrews and hedgehogs.

Here’s how the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) describes them:

Their eyes are poorly developed, but what they lack in sight, they make up for in their sense of touch. All moles have very sensitive snouts and long, clawed digits that they use to dig tunnels. The 22 tentacle-like protrusions on the star-nosed mole’s snout are six times more sensitive to touch than a human hand.

Rather than having fur that lays flat and points toward the tail like most mammals, eastern moles have dense fur that sticks straight up. This prevents soil from becoming trapped in their coats when they back up through a tunnel. Male moles are usually bigger than females, although most species don’t exceed 10 inches in length.

Moles are very efficient diggers. In fact, eastern moles (one of the most common mole species in the U.S.) can hollow out a 160-foot burrow in a single night.

Other common species of moles include the Townsend’s mole, which is common along the Oregon and Washington coast, and the broad-footed mole, which is widespread in California.

Contrary to popular belief, moles don’t eat the roots of plants and trees, although they do tunnel around and beneath them.

In reality, moles are insectivores, and they make tunnels to locate the worms and other insects that live in the soil around plants.

Did you know that small numbers of moles can be beneficial for landscaping? They help aerate the soil and eliminate excess populations of harmful insects.


When you have too many moles affecting your landscaping, though, it’s time to act.

How To Identify Mole Damage In Your Yard & Garden

mole hills damaging a lawn

While mole damage may seem similar to the damage caused by voles, mice, or rodents, some key differentiators exist.

Here are 4 signs to look for:

1. Dead Grass

As we mentioned in a previous blog on the topic, patches of dead grass are a good indication that you have a mole problem.

As moles make their tunnels, they disrupt the root systems of nearby grasses, killing the grass at surface level and leaving dead patches in their wake.

2. Molehills

Have you ever heard the saying, “making a mountain out of a molehill?”

When moles dig their tunnels, they act like mini excavators, moving all that dirt out of the tunnel and up to the surface, creating a telltale, mounded molehill at the tunnel entrance.

3. Mounds That Are Far Apart

Moles aren’t the only creatures that make entrance and exit mounds.

Gophers do something similar.

However, the difference is that gopher mounds are close together, while molehills tend to be about six feet apart.

4. Chunks Of Dirt

When gophers dig in your yard, they pulverize the soil into a smooth powder.

Moles, on the other hand, dig the earth up in chunks.

As you evaluate the mounds in your yard, look for clumps of soil, which is a sure-fire sign of moles.

If you’re wondering whether you have moles in your landscaping, it’s equally important to know what not to look for.

Since moles are insectivores, they don’t chew plants or root systems. Instead, they eat earthworms, grubs, and centipedes.

If you notice gnaw marks on your garden plants or vegetables, it’s likely that voles or mice are responsible – not moles.

What Attracts Moles To Your Yard?

white grubs in dirt that feed moles

Moles live their entire lives in their tunnels, so they’re more likely to frequent areas that offer the ideal habitat for feeding, breeding, and burrowing.

Here are 3 environmental factors that moles love:

1. Lots Of Insects

Moles eat a lot of bugs. In fact, the NWF reports that many species eat up to 100% of their body weight in insects each day.

Studies have shown that a mole’s diet consists of earthworms, white grubs, beetles, and larvae. Moles will construct elaborate burrows in areas where these insects are abundant.

2. Cool Temperatures

Contrary to popular belief, moles are not blind or nocturnal. They’re active throughout the day and prefer moist, cool soil that helps them regulate their temperature.

3. Landscaping Elements

The main runways moles construct tend to follow certain landscaping elements, like fence rows, paths, or other human-made borders.

They may also pop up along a line of hedges or another protected area. Moles will also burrow under shrubs and trees to locate the insects that live in their root systems.

Wherever moles set up shop, food is the primary motivator—because of this, controlling their food sources is one of the most effective ways to control the mole populations.

How to Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard and Garden

So, you’ve got a mole problem, and you want to reclaim your yard. There are effective home remedies and conventional methods available, which we’ll outline below.

Home Remedies

Here’s how to get rid of moles humanely:

1. Eliminate Their Food Sources

Moles love grubs. When you eliminate the grubs and other insects in your yard, the moles will relocate in search of better food sources.

We recommend controlling grub populations by using beneficial nematodes or milky spore to kill grubs. If you want faster results, use an insecticide instead.

Pros: Humane, easy

Cons: Moles may start to rely on other food sources and insect species instead. 

2. Apply A Repellent

In some cases, a mole repellent is an effective solution for an infestation.

For example, castor oil will not kill moles, but it will cause digestive upset for the moles that come into contact with it – making your lawn a less appealing place to live.

Make your own homemade mole repellent with this recipe:

  • Three parts castor oil
  • One part dish soap

Mix four tablespoons of this mixture in a gallon of water and use it to soak the tunnels and entrances in your yard.

You can also purchase repellants in liquid or granule form and apply them to your yard via a spreader. Be sure to follow all label directions carefully if you choose this option.

Pros: Safe, humane, safe for pets and kids

Cons: must be re-applied regularly

3. Use Plants As A Barrier

mole repellant daffodils in a garden

Moles dislike plants with strong smells, such as daffodils, marigolds, and anything in the allium family.

Plant these species around the edges of your garden to form a natural barrier or plant in raised beds to protect root systems. If you prefer, you can also purchase ready-made mole barriers at your local garden store.

Pros: Safe, humane, beautiful addition to your lawn and garden

Cons: Time-consuming, requires ongoing maintenance

4. Dig A Trench

To form a human-made boundary around your lawn and garden, dig a trench that is roughly 2 feet deep and six inches wide around the space you’d like to protect.

Fill the trench with rocks or line it with wire mesh or hardware cloth with holes ¾ wide or smaller. This is a time-consuming but effective, long-term solution to keep moles from burrowing their way into your yard.

Pros: Effective and invisible, once finished

Cons: Time-consuming, difficult, disrupts sod and turf

5. Create An Unfriendly Environment

Moles don’t like to live in disruptive areas. This is good news for you since it means getting rid of them can be as easy as creating an unpleasant environment.

To do this, purchase a sonic spike from your local home and garden store and insert it into the ground in your garden. This spike will use electronic pulses to create irritating sounds that encourage the moles to go elsewhere.

Don’t worry, though – you won’t be able to hear or feel the electronic pulses.

Pros: Easy, affordable

Cons: May not be as effective as other solutions

6. Keep Your Lawn Tidy

lawnmower mowing lawn to deter moles

Moles feel safest under cover. Because of this, eliminating their shelter is a great way to encourage them to go elsewhere.

Keep your grass mowed and your garden beds manicured. Avoid using thick layers of mulch to cover beds and remove all wood stacks or organic debris piles.

You may also want to cut back on watering since excess moisture attracts insects and creates an ideal mole habitat.

Pros: Creates a beautiful lawn and garden environment and can be effective

Cons: Time-consuming, may not be effective to reduce severe mole infestations 

7. Create an Artificial Drought

Moles and the earthworms they love to eat enjoy soft, damp soil. To make your yard less hospitable for them, avoid over-watering your lawn.

Keeping it on the dry side is a great way to limit earthworm activity and discourage moles from setting up shop in your yard.

Remember that most lawns only need about an inch of water per week to stay healthy, so this approach won’t make your outdoor space any less beautiful.

Pros: Organic, natural, effective

Cons: Long-term solution, won’t eradicate existing mole populations

Conventional Methods to Get rid of Moles

If you want to kill moles in your yard, there are a few conventional ways to do that, including trapping and baiting.

Note: Here at Smith’s, we don’t recommend these methods. They aren’t humane, some of them are dangerous or potentially toxic to kids, pets, and non-target species, and we believe that natural methods work just as well. 

8. Trapping

Kill traps use lethal methods to kill moles and hold them in place. These traps quickly eradicate mole populations. They also offer a high degree of target-specificity for moles and no potential for chemical buildup or secondary poisoning in the surrounding ecosystem.

For best results, you’ll need to place mole traps in main, active mole runways. You can find these runways by poking holes into the top of the soil near a mole hole using a stick or your index finger.

If the hole is repaired within a day or two, it’s a prime runway and a great place to trap moles.

Here are a few other ways to identify main runways:

  • Runways usually follow a basically straight course.
  • Runways typically connect two mounds or two separate runway systems.
  • They tend to follow fencerows, concrete paths, or other human-made borders.
  • They may follow the woody perimeter of a yard or field.

Keep in mind that trapping moles requires consistency and creativity. Moles are smart, and they, more than many other small mammals, are excellent at detecting and avoiding traps that aren’t set or placed properly.

When trapping is executed correctly, it’s the easiest, most effective way to get rid of moles, especially if you utilize traps in the spring or fall season.

Pros: Fast, effective, traps are reusable

Cons: Not humane, time-consuming, traps require you to remove and dispose of dead moles, traps must be set with a high degree of accuracy, which minimizes mole avoidance or escape

9. Baiting

Baiting involves using poison to kill moles in their burrows. Generally speaking, there are three different types of mole baits available: grain baits, gel baits, and synthetic worm baits.

They’re not all created equal, though. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Grain pellet bait formulations have shown inconsistent results, since their efficacy is highly dependent on both the area and the mole species present.
  • First-generation anticoagulant chlorophacinone pellet baits can be effective at certain times of the year, but they require repeated applications and may take as long as six weeks to eliminate mole populations.
  • Earthworm-style baits are generally considered most effective. Moles who eat earthworm-style baits die about 12-24 hours after a single ingestion.

One of the benefits of baits is that poisoned moles typically die underground in their tunnels, so you won’t have to find and dispose of their bodies.

Pros: Fast, effective

Cons: Not humane, presents a risk of secondary poisoning for animals (like pets and birds of prey) who consume poisoned moles that die above-ground

How Do Rodent Control Professionals Get Rid Of Moles In Your Yard?

professional mole control service technician looking for moles

If DIY is not your style, you may want to call in a professional mole control team like Smith’s. Thanks to their professional tools and tactics, these teams can effectively deal with severe mole infestations.

If getting rid of moles humanely is important to you, you can opt for no-kill methods that will drastically reduce your mole populations and restore your yard to its former glory.

Here are a few tactics our team here at Smith’s Pest Management uses:

1. No-kill Mole Trapping

Trapping is a sure-fire way to get rid of moles without killing them.

The Smith’s team will inspect your yard, identify the most active mole runways, and place no-kill traps accordingly.

This option reduces your existing mole problem, and when you opt to participate in our annual mole control program, it can prevent moles from coming back in the future.

Since moles get very active in the winter when soil moistens up, good mole control is best done with trapping or Talpirid worms.

2. Grub Control

Eliminate the moles’ food source – eliminate the moles!

Smith’s provides comprehensive grub control services for property owners with excess insect populations.

Because we use a granular lawn treatment, this option is fast, easy, and straightforward.

3. Exclusion

A popular, humane, no-kill method of mole control, exclusion relies on techniques that make it difficult for moles to enter your yard.

Gopher baskets and gopher wire can be particularly useful. While Smith’s does not provide mole exclusion services, the team can advise you on the methods that may work for you.

4. Annual Mole Control

It’s hard to get rid of moles forever. That’s why we recommend participating in our annual mole control program.

Each year, we’ll return to your property and help address and eliminate ongoing or recurring mole problems.

This is the most effective way to maintain a healthy, green lawn for years to come.

Professionals like Smith’s Pest Management know how to get rid of persistent moles that keep coming back to your yard.

Mole Control FAQs

lawn mole damage

1. What is the fastest way to get rid of moles?

The fastest way to get rid of moles is through trapping. Live or kill traps remove mole populations rapidly and are excellent ways to deal with even severe mole infestations.

If you want an even more rapid solution, pair trapping with other methods, such as exclusion and deterrents.

2. How do I get rid of moles humanely?

You have many options if you want to get rid of moles without killing them.

Live traps contain moles without harming or killing them and allow you to release the rodents a safe distance from your property.

Other integrated pest management (IPM) techniques focus on exclusion (using wire mesh buried underground to deter digging), repellents (planting mole-repellent plants and eliminating mole food sources), and habitat modification (creation of artificial drought and trench digging, for example) to get rid of moles humanely and effectively.

3. What home remedy will kill moles?

Few home remedies will kill moles, but many will deter them.

For best results, we recommend mixing a half cup of castor oil, one cup of water, and one teaspoon of hot sauce with a few drops of pure peppermint oil.

Once you’ve created the mixture, add some cotton balls to the liquid and let them soak.

Next, place the soaked cotton balls in mole holes around your yard and garden. Replace the cotton balls every few days to deter moles.

4. Can you flood moles out?

While some people recommend trying to flood moles out of their holes using hoses or buckets of water, we advise against it. 

This approach will only damage your lawn and loosen the dirt beneath your grass, making it easier for moles and other pests to burrow into. Additionally, moles can simply take shelter above-ground until the water recedes, making this tactic ineffective.

Instead, opt for a proven mole-control method, like one of the IPM approaches we listed above.

5. What time of day are moles most active?

Although moles are active throughout the day, their activity levels peak around noon and midnight.

They also tend to be active after a warm, soaking rain, when the insects they eat are most active.

Dealing With Moles In The San Francisco Bay Area? We’re Here To Help!

Smith’s Pest Management helps residential and commercial properties in Northern California reduce, control, and eliminate their mole problems.

Smith’s also works with parks and large facilities to eradicate moles in an eco-conscious way.

Contact us to request a free mole control quote today: (408) 871-6988

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 10+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.