Monday, February 23, 2009

Installing Gopher or Mole Wire and Baskets Under Lawns and Plants

I get a lot of questions about the proper way to install a wire barrier to prevent gophers and moles from damaging lawns. This can be one of the most costly mistakes one can make when installing a new lawn. The cost of the installation is high as it is and then the extra cost of the installation of the wire is daunting. However, in areas of mole and gopher populations this step is worthwhile if done right.

I have seen many installations where the wire used was aviary wire, like chicken wire but with half inch diagonal mesh instead of one inch. This kind of wire was not meant to be buried and will fail in a short period of time. My choice of wire is to use either galvanized hardware cloth with one half by one inch openings or "gopher wire" wire made specifically for burying underground. One brand to consider is "Diggers" gopher wire which is a three quarter inch galvanized mesh and soon there will be available a stainless steel mesh.

If the sod is installed directly on top of the wire gophers will go under it and pull the grass down through the wire and moles will push piles of soil up through it defeating the purpose of the extra expense. Proper placement is to install the wire and then cover it with one to two inches of soil and then lay the sod on that. If you exceed one to two inches then gophers and moles will just tunnel in between the sod and wire.

Contractors sometimes try to talk you out of this extra step but be firm, this is the step that makes the extra expense work. Below is the first stage of laying the wire. I like to see the wire laid so that the leading edge of the wire or the part the is shingled under the next is toward the invading gopher or mole. This usually means that if the lawn is next to the house, the second row of wire goes under the first and so on. Just think of the animal tunneling under the wire. You want the seams to be layered so that if there is a small opening it is away from the direction of the tunnel.





Next you see the overlapping and soil is added as the sod is laid. The wire is held in place with sod pins or landscape staples







The staple placed about 2 to three feet apart. Again be very careful to have tight overlaps of 4-6 inches without buckling or openings.

Sometimes a vertical barrier is more appropriate for a garden area or to fence a wild area and home area. I recommend a trench 2-3 foot deep and install the wire with a ninety degree bend to the outside. Because gophers also invade from the surface, an above ground portion of at least six inches is needed also. Sometimes this can be tied into a fence or border



Gopher Baskets are very easy to use and install and I recommend them for perennial plantings, especially young fruit trees or roses. You can make them out of gopher wire or hardware cloth again stay away from making them with chicken or aviary wire.








Below is the kind of damage you can avoid with proper wire placement.




If you have questions and comments please email me or comment here. My web site is gopherslimited.com

22 comments:

  1. I finally trapped two today! I think one is a mole and 1 is a gopher. Is it possible that they were using the same runs?

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  2. Is there a health risk to using galvanized aviary wire under a wooden frame for a raised bed garden that you are trying to make gopher resistant? I don't want to negatively affect the vegetables in the bed if the aviary wire could be risky to the health of people eating the veggies. Thanks.

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  3. Yes, sometimes gophers and moles share burrows but rarely at the same time.
    Thomas

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  4. Health risks via galvanized wire is a very good question. I only know about the environmental pollution associated with the galvanizing process, one of the reasons most galvanizing is done in China today. If anyone out there knows, please post. Also I just brought in a new line of gopher baskets that are stainless steel for long lasting protection. You can find them on my web site gopherslimited.com

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  5. Hi Thomas, thanks for your comments and suggestions on my blog, I think I will order one of those traps and give them a try, though we're not getting gopher mounds that we can use as guides to find the buggers! I garden with a lot of mulch, and maybe the mounds are underneath? We just can't seem to find them, even when we're sure teh runs are fresh and regularly used. They're just tunneling like mad all through our garden beds. Do you think we can still catch them with your trap?

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  6. Thanks for this posting, really helpful. Am planning to sheet compost an area for a new garden this fall. Thinking about installing the wire on the ground, bringing the ends of the wire above ground, and composting about 12 inches of material on top, for spring planting. Any thoughts?

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  7. Your Welcome Haydon. My main thoughts are that composting does release a lot of acids that my have an effect on the wire so be sure to use a heavily galvanized hardware cloth or gopher wire. What I am saying here is to avoid using chicken wire or aviary wire as they may not last long. I now am carrying stainless steel baskets and may have some SS wire available but the rolls of wire will be very expensive. The stainless baskets though are "forever" and not affected by soil acids. Be sure also to make some barrier near the surface.
    Best,
    Thomas

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  8. Thanks for the info. You mention "Diggers" gopher wire (three quarter inch galvanized mesh, and that soon there will be available a stainless steel mesh"). Can you tell me where this mesh product can be purchased. I'm installing a new sod lawn and have had lots of popher issues in the past.

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  9. Hi Thomas,
    I attended your workshop at Quail Hollow Ranch this summer and the first 2 weeks I got 6 gophers! You're a great teacher!My family started calling me the Gopher Girl. I love the knife I bought from you and I use it often, it's the best tool I have.

    I bought some galvanized gopher wire to make some baskets but can't find information on how to make them. I thought your site would have it but it doesn't. Any tips on how to get started?
    Thanks,
    Karla

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  10. Stainless Steel Wire will be available on my site in a few weeks. Right now I do have baskets.

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  11. Hi Karla,
    Thanks for your kind words. I enjoy the classes a lot and always meet interesting people and serious gardeners. Constructing a basket from wire is cheaper but getting the seams tight is hard. Before pre made baskets I used to first make the round basket and then add a bottom sewing the wire together with galvanized wire. If you come up with a better way, I would be interested.
    Thomas

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  12. Hello,
    Thanks for your tips and expertise. My wife has been told that 1/4" mesh is the only way to protect plants, but it is pretty expensive compared to the Digger type gopher wire. Is the 1/4' hardware cloth (23 ga. galvanized} really better?
    Thanks, Lee

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  13. I have gophers from the neighbors that have redone their entire back yard with gopher wire under their sod....so now I have gophers and ground squirrels....I will putting in a japanese garden with a plastic pond liner, will they chew through that? Also my back yard is 7,000 sq ft so I can't cover it entirely, can I rototill the soil to destroy the tunnels and then lay hardware cloth around the whole perimeter of the fence line going vertical about 3 ft down with the turn out like u demonstrated in the picture above? also where can I buy your trap and how do I get rid of them after trapping....can they be kept as pets? I don't want to manually kill them myself.

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  14. Does dog pee work the same as coyote pee? I have 2 girl dogs that run free in the back yard and the reason why we did not install sod is because the girls burn up the sod with their urine spots, so Japanese garden is best with pea gravel paths and perrenial garden beds, 1 pondless waterfall and 1 koi pond using a hard plastic liner. Do you think they'll try to eat the roots of the plants or dig under the hardware cloth around the fence line? We know they burrow under our concrete foundation of the house....any help?

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  15. Hi there. We live here in Corpus Christi, TX and we would like to place an above ground pool on our backyard. Problem is, we were told gophers can chew through the liner and damage the pool. Any clue what can avoid them from not going anywhere the pool?

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  17. If the New Lawn grasses can cope up with the stress, it will be healthy and dense and will be able to resist disease. Sometime the disease may spread and it becomes out of any control. However, the disease resistant cultivars can be implemented to avoid future problems.

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  18. Thank-you for all of your information! What is a better time of year to do the mesh and sod for our lawn? I don't want to do it in the middle of breeding season? Also, any ideas on qualifying a landscaper for this kind of work? We live in Northern Calif.

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  19. Hi,

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  20. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.

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  21. The various applications and uses for wire cloth or wire mesh products are literally endless, and span
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