Lawn Maintenance Guide Tips for Avoiding Moles & Voles Next Year

Do you have tunnel-like burrows and small open trench paths in your yard? Or perhaps you’ve noticed dead plants, lawn damage, or tree damage. Unfortunately, this means that you may have moles or voles in your yard. The good news is that moles and voles can be easy to get rid of!

In this edition of our ongoing lawn maintenance series, we’ll discuss the differences between mole and vole damage, how to tell if it’s moles or voles damaging your yard, and how to get rid of them for good.

Moles Versus Voles

Moles are about four to seven inches long, have blackish-brownish fuzzy-looking fur, feet shaped like clawed paddles, an elongated head with a snout, and tiny eyes. Voles look similar to field mice—they are about four to eight inches long, have gray-to-light brown fur, distinctive orange teeth, short tails, small compact bodies, small eyes, and nearly invisible ears.

Signs of Moles & Voles in Your Yard

Moles make volcano-shaped mounded molehills of loose soil and their tunnels can be seen in and above your yard turf. They look like raised tunnel ridges in the soft areas of your lawn. 

Voles, on the other hand, make what looks like above-ground runways that are about two inches wide. These “runways” are what connect the voles’ underground burrows. You will also notice one-and-a-half-inch wide entrance holes to these burrows in your yard.

The Extent of Mole & Vole Damage

Mole hill in lawn

Moles and voles both feed on plant and tree roots, so you might notice tree and plant damage if you have moles and/or voles. That means both moles and voles can destroy your plants and trees by feeding on their roots. They can also destroy your lawn’s root system with their tunnels because those raised tunnels will cause the grass to dry out and die. Moles can tunnel up to 100 feet each day, so even if you just have one mole, it won’t take long until your landscaping looks like a graveyard of dead grass, plants, and trees.

How to Repel Moles & Voles

There are a variety of great ways to repel moles and voles from your yard.

1. Treat Your Yard With Castor Oil

Castor oil helps get rid of moles because moles hate the smell of it, and it upsets their digestive system. Additionally, if it touches them, it will make them itch. Castor oil will not kill the moles, it will just help keep them away from your lawn.

2. Apply a Grub Treatment

Applying a grub treatment will help get rid of some of the mole’s food supply because the grub treatment will kill or get rid of these grubs. These are available in ready-to-spray hose treatments and granular treatments.

3. Use Commercial Poisons

There are commercial mole and vole poisons available. We recommend purchasing products that have been approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Many commercial poisons use bromethalin and zinc phosphide, which are highly toxic. Bromethalin can cause blurred vision, loss of muscle control, and even loss of consciousness, while zinc phosphide is highly toxic and is not recommended for at-home use. Additionally, if you are looking for a humane treatment, commercial poisons are not recommended.

4. Create Barriers

Creating a barrier around your lawn and/or garden can provide protection against moles and voles. You will need to dig a 30-inch-deep trench and line it with hardware cloth or a similar type of mesh or netting and extend that cloth five-to-six inches above the ground. Hardware cloths can protect your tree trunks as well. Just wrap the trunks 18 to 20 inches high to keep moles and voles from nibbling on their bark.

5. Apply Capsaicin

Moles and voles hate capsaicin. Simply mix chopped hot peppers or cayenne pepper with water and biodegradable dish soap and spray all vole hotspots around your yard and landscaping. This will help keep them from nibbling on your plants. There are also ready-to-spray capsaicin formulas that you can purchase. 

Don’t Use Mothballs

You may find information online that mentions mothballs as an effective treatment for moles and voles. There is little-to-no evidence that shows the effectiveness of mothballs. Additionally, mothballs are illegal for outdoor use in Michigan—they are a registered pesticide for indoor use only. Mothballs are considered dangerous to children as they contain naphthalene, which according to the EPA has been linked to specific illnesses like nasal cancer. 

Good Lawn Maintenance Practices Can Also Help Prevent Moles & Voles

Well maintained green lawn

You can prevent moles and voles by engaging in good lawn maintenance practices. For example, voles like living in grass, leaf, and mulch piles, as well as tall ground cover. Therefore, you can create an uninviting environment by minimizing the amount of mulch around your trees and shrubs, and by not leaving piles of leaves and grass on the ground.

You should also remove any dense ground cover you have, keep your yard mowed, and keep up with as much snow removal around your yard as possible. Additionally, adding GrubX or another grub treatment to your yard in the early spring can also help reduce and prevent mole damage. 

Learn More from Design One Today

Would you like help fixing the damage caused by moles and voles in your yard? Get in touch with Design One Today. We are a commercial and residential landscaping company in Michigan that specialties in custom hardscaping and landscaping designs. No matter the extent of your damage, we can help you design and create beautiful, healthy landscapes. Contact us today to request a free consultation or to learn more about our services.

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