Late in August, I discovered a loose pile of fresh dirt beside a hole that was about five inches deep and just big enough around to accommodate a tennis ball. It was close to the foundation of my house and less than 10 feet from a ground-level pond.
My first thought: gophers! Since there are very few animals that destroy gardens fast than gophers (a.k.a. Richardson’s Ground Squirrels), I immediately went on high alert. Gophers are extremely stubborn creatures. Once they move in, they are very difficult to get rid of.
A careful search of the area turned up no additional holes. This led me to conclude that I was dealing with a young animal who was just moving out on his own. Therefore my strategy would be to prevent him from becoming established by convincing him that my garden was not a good place to live.
So it was off to the Internet where I considered many of the most popular non-lethal methods for repelling gophers. Dryer sheets, recommended one website. Gophers, I was told, dislike the smell of dryer sheets. Push them into the hole with a stick and then fill the entrance with dirt. Unfortunately, there were no holes for me to use.
Coffee grounds, suggested another website. Sprinkle coffee grounds around the holes. If there are no holes, spread them around your yard and soil. As an added benefit, the grounds will work to fertilize your yard, promised the article’s author. This seemed promising, so I gave it a whirl. One week later: two more holes appeared overnight.
Try dirty cat litter, suggested one website. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cat. So try dog hair, suggested another. Gophers hate dog hair. Stuff it into the holes. In two to three weeks: problem solved, promised the author. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dog either and I am NOT going to a grooming facility to borrow a bag of dog hair. Next!
“Place a small battery-operated portable radio in a plastic bag,” offered an anonymous contributor eHow, “turn on a low volume, and place near areas where gophers are problematic.” Really, I asked myself? Do I want a radio playing all night outside my bedroom window? Next!
Adopt a cat that prefers to spend time outdoors; that’s illegal in Calgary. Next! Bury chicken wire a few inches underground; good idea, but how do I move my plants, shrubs and lawn to put it there? Next!
Over the next several weeks, I tried nearly every practical non-lethal method including chewing gum and blood meal. Nothing worked because gophers, as I said above, are tremendously stubborn creatures.
Spring arrived early this year and by the time I got outside to begin looking at my garden, I was facing a half dozen new holes in two different locations. So out came the garden hose. Seven hours and 1200 gallons of water later: problem solved. I haven’t seen a new hole in more than two weeks.