Recognizing Signs of Mole Activity in Your Garden

As a passionate gardener, you put your heart and soul into creating a beautiful and bountiful garden. However, one day you may notice mysterious raised tunnels, unsightly molehills, and damaged plants. You may be perplexed as to what could be causing this damage, and how to stop it. Could it be moles? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the reasons why moles invade gardens, how to identify their activity, what to do if you find signs of mole activity, and most importantly, how to prevent mole infestations in your beloved garden. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge and tools to protect your garden from these subterranean pests.

Why Do Moles Invade Gardens?

Why Do Moles Invade Gardens?
The invasion of moles in a garden can be perplexing, especially for those who have put a great deal of effort and care into their landscaping. However, understanding why moles invade gardens is essential to develop a plan of action for mole control. There are several reasons why moles are attracted to gardens, including nutrition, habitat, and reproduction. By recognizing these factors, homeowners can take appropriate measures to prevent mole infestations in their yards. To learn more about the signs of mole activity in your garden, check out our previous article on identifying mole tunnels and mounds in your yard.


Moles are small burrowing mammals that invade gardens for various reasons. They are insectivores, which means they feed on insects, grubs, and other small creatures found in the soil. Nutrition is one of the primary reasons why moles invade gardens, as they are always on the hunt for their next meal.

Some of the pests that moles feed on, such as grubs, may cause damage to your lawn or garden themselves. In fact, mole damage can often be confused with other types of pest damage. For example, if you notice dead or brown patches of grass in your lawn, it may be due to mole activity – but it could also be caused by a pest infestation.

Moles have high metabolisms, and they need to eat frequently to survive. They may burrow through your garden or lawn, searching for insects or grubs to snack on. This can cause damage to the root systems of your plants, making it difficult for them to grow and thrive.

In addition to causing direct damage to your plants, moles’ excavation can also affect the overall health of your garden’s soil. This is because the soil that they dig up from underground – along with any insect or grub that they may have eaten – will be deposited onto the surface. This can lead to uneven areas in your yard or garden, and it can also affect the nutrient balance in your soil.

By understanding the role that nutrition plays in moles’ invasion of your garden, you’ll be better equipped to identify when mole activity is the root cause of any damage or disturbances you may notice. If you’re unsure whether the damage you’re seeing in your yard is due to moles or something else, consider reading our article about moles’ damage to lawns for more detailed information on identifying mole activity.



Moles prefer loose, moist soil that is easy to dig through. They are often found in areas with ample vegetation, which provides cover and a source of food. However, they can also be found in areas where the soil is more compacted, such as lawns and golf courses.

Moles build complex networks of tunnels underground, with some tunnels used regularly and others used only occasionally. They are able to burrow up to 18 feet per hour, which means they can quickly cover a large area in search of food and shelter.

In addition to natural habitats, moles may also invade gardens and yards that provide suitable soil and cover. They are particularly attracted to gardens with lots of earthworms and insects, which serve as a primary food source.

To identify mole activity in your garden, look for distinctive signs such as mounds of soil or raised ridges on the surface of the soil. You may also notice damage to plant roots or other plant material.

If you suspect mole activity in your garden, it is important to take action quickly to prevent further damage. You can try natural remedies, such as planting mole-repelling plants or using castor oil-based repellents. However, for more severe infestations, it may be necessary to use traps or seek professional help.

For more information on detecting and identifying mole activity, you can read our article on Detecting Mole Larvae and Adult Moles in the Soil.


Moles have a high reproductive rate, making it easier for them to colonize areas quickly. A female mole can give birth to a litter of three to six pups at a time, and can have several litters in a year. The pups grow rapidly and will leave the nest within a month.

During mating season, male moles may create extensive tunnels in search of females, leaving behind a series of molehills in the process. This can result in an increase in mole activity in your garden during certain times of the year.

Once a molehill is established as a nesting ground, it can attract other moles to the area. The tunnel network created by moles can also allow for easy access to other gardens, which can contribute to the spread of mole infestations.

Moles are most active during the spring and fall months when they’re breeding and nesting, so it’s important to be vigilant during these times if you suspect a mole infestation in your garden.

To identify mole activity, look for signs such as molehills, surface runways, subsurface tunnels, and damage to plant roots. Once you’ve confirmed mole activity, take steps to remove them from your garden. Natural remedies, mole traps, and professional help are all options to consider. However, to prevent mole infestations from occurring in the first place, it’s important to take steps to remove food sources, keep soil firm, install barriers, plant mole-repelling plants, and maintain your garden regularly.

How to Identify Mole Activity in Your Garden

How To Identify Mole Activity In Your Garden
If you’ve noticed some strange movements or bumps in your garden, it’s possible that moles are the ones causing it. But how can you be sure? There are a few signs of mole activity that you can look for to determine if these critters have invaded your garden. In this section, we’ll explore the various indicators that moles might be present in your garden so that you can take the necessary steps to address the issue.


When it comes to identifying mole activity in your garden, one of the most obvious signs to look out for is the presence of molehills. These are small mounds of soil that are pushed up from the ground as moles dig their tunnels and burrows. Molehills can range in size from a few inches to a foot or more in diameter, and are typically conical or dome-shaped.

To identify molehills, look for small mounds of freshly turned earth that are very soft and easy to flatten with your foot. Moles use their powerful front paws to dig and push soil out of their tunnels and into molehills, which can be found scattered throughout the garden. The presence of multiple molehills in one area is a good indication of heavy mole activity in that location.

To better understand how moles create molehills, let’s take a look at the different types of tunnels they dig. Moles typically dig two types of tunnels: shallow surface tunnels and deep subsurface tunnels. Surface tunnels are used for foraging and can be found just a few inches below the soil surface. These tunnels can be identified by raised ridges on the soil surface that may be visible as moles travel back and forth along them.

Subsurface tunnels, on the other hand, are used for shelter and transportation and can run several feet below the surface. These tunnels are typically located deeper in the soil and are much harder to identify. However, they are the ones that moles use to push up soil and create molehills.

Type of Tunnel Description Indications of Mole Activity
Shallow Surface Tunnels Used for foraging and just a few inches below the soil surface Raised ridges on the soil surface
Deep Subsurface Tunnels Used for shelter and transportation and can run several feet below the surface Presence of molehills as soil is pushed up from deep underground

It is important to note that not all molehills are created equal. Some molehills may be very fresh and moist, while others may be older and dry. Fresher molehills that are still moist to the touch indicate that moles are actively working in that area, while older and drier molehills indicate that moles may have moved on or that the soil has settled over time.

Surface Runways

Surface runways are another sign of mole activity in your garden. These runways are temporary tunnels that moles create just below the surface of the ground. They appear as raised ridges on the surface of your lawn or garden bed. Here are some key characteristics of surface runways:

  • Appearances: They are raised ridges that look like tunnels on the surface of the ground.
  • Location: They are found in the areas where the mole is actively searching for food.
  • Length: Runways can be short or can extend for up to several meters.
  • Damage: Surface runways can cause damage to plant roots and create soft spots in your lawn. They can also damage your lawn mower blades if you run over them.
  • Time: Surface runways are temporary and may disappear after a few days as moles continue to search for food.

It’s important to note that surface runways can also be caused by other animals such as voles and shrews, so it’s essential to confirm that moles are the culprit before taking any action. One way to confirm mole activity is to step on the raised ridges and flatten them. If the ridges reappear within a day or two, this is a good indication that you’re dealing with moles. Now that you know what surface runways are and how to identify them, let’s move on to other signs of mole activity in your garden.

Subsurface Tunnels

One of the most prominent indicators of mole activity in your garden is the presence of subsurface tunnels. These tunnels are created by the moles as they burrow underneath the soil in search of food.

Appearance: Subsurface tunnels are typically less visible than molehills and surface runways. However, they can be identified by the raised ridges they create under the surface of the soil. These ridges may be visible in dry or sandy soil, but may require digging or probing with a stick in denser soil.

Location: Subsurface tunnels are located deeper in the soil than surface runways and may extend several inches below the surface.

Function: Moles use subsurface tunnels to travel throughout their territory, searching for food and suitable nesting sites.

Damage: While subsurface tunnels themselves may not cause direct damage to plants, the moles that create them may uproot or damage the roots of plants as they burrow through the soil.

To get rid of moles in your garden, it is important to properly identify their activity using all available signs, including subsurface tunnels. Once you have confirmed that moles are present, you can take steps to either remove them yourself or enlist the services of a professional pest control company. However, prevention is always the best course of action, so be sure to take steps to keep moles out of your garden in the first place.

Damage to Plants and Roots

When moles are in your garden, they can cause extensive damage to your plants and roots. The damage can be severe and can lead to the death of your plant. Here are some of the signs to look for:

Signs of damage Description
Wilting If you see your plants wilting, it could be a sign that moles have been digging tunnels around the roots. The tunnels can damage the roots and cause the plant to lose water and nutrients.
Browning leaves If the leaves of your plant are turning brown, it could be a sign that the roots have been damaged. The roots are responsible for carrying water and nutrients to the plant, and damage to the roots can cause the leaves to turn brown and eventually die off.
Stunted growth If your plants are not growing properly or seem to be stunted, it could be due to damage caused by moles. The tunnels dug by moles can disturb the soil structure and prevent the roots from growing properly.
Uneven growth Another sign of mole damage is uneven growth. If your plants are growing unevenly or are growing at different rates, it could be a sign that the roots have been damaged by the mole tunnels.

It’s essential to recognize these signs early and take action to prevent further damage. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove the plant and replace it with a new one. It’s also crucial to address any mole infestations in your garden to prevent future damage to your plants and roots.

What to Do If You Find Signs of Mole Activity

What To Do If You Find Signs Of Mole Activity
Now that you have identified signs of mole activity in your garden, it is important to take necessary actions to manage this issue. Ignoring mole activity can lead to significant damage to your plants and soil. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the best course of action. Don’t worry, in this section, we will discuss various options you can consider to address the mole problem in your garden. From natural remedies to professional help, we will cover everything you need to know to effectively manage mole activity in your garden.

Natural Remedies

If you’re looking for a natural way to get rid of moles in your garden, you may want to try some of these remedies:

  • Castor Oil: Mole repellents containing castor oil can be effective in keeping moles away. The strong odor of castor oil can be unpleasant to moles and will make them look for another habitat. Simply spray castor oil around the areas where you’ve noticed mole activity, and repeat the process once a week until the moles are gone.
  • Chili Powder: Another natural way to repel moles is to use chili powder, which will make the soil spicy and unpleasant for them to dig in. Mix some chili powder with water and spray it on the ground where you’ve noticed mole activity.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper works in a similar way to chili powder. It can be sprinkled directly on molehills or mixed with water into a spray solution. The strong taste and smell of cayenne pepper will make moles think twice about invading your garden.
  • Gum: Believe it or not, chewing gum can be effective in getting rid of moles. Simply place a few sticks of gum near the molehills or along the surface runways. The moles will eat the gum, but won’t be able to digest it, which will cause them to look for another source of food.
  • Cat Litter: Moles don’t like the smell of cat litter. You can place used cat litter into the molehills or around the areas where you’ve noticed mole activity to discourage them from coming back.

Keep in mind that natural remedies may take longer to work and may not be as effective as other methods such as traps or professional help. If you’re not seeing results after a few weeks of using natural remedies, you may need to consider other options.

Mole Traps

Mole traps can be an effective way to control mole activity in your garden. When used appropriately, these traps can help reduce the population of moles in your garden, preventing further damage to your crops and plants.

Types of Mole Traps:
There are several types of mole traps available, including the scissor-jawed trap, harpoon trap, and tunnel trap. It’s important to choose the appropriate trap for your particular situation and to use it correctly to ensure safe and effective mole control.

How to Set Mole Traps:
To set a mole trap, start by identifying mole activity in your garden. Look for freshly dug molehills, tunnels, or surface runways. Once you’ve identified active areas, choose a location to set your trap. Next, dig a small hole in the mole tunnel or runway and place the trap inside. Cover the hole and mark the location of the trap so you can easily find it later.

When to Use Mole Traps:
Mole traps should be used as a last resort when all other control methods have failed. It’s important to consider the safety of other wildlife and pets before using traps in your garden. Always follow the instructions for your specific type of trap to ensure safe and effective use.

How to Dispose of Mole Bodies:
Once you’ve caught a mole with your trap, it’s important to dispose of the body safely and responsibly. You should never release a live mole into the wild, as this can spread diseases or introduce new pests to the area. Instead, dispose of the body in a secure trash bag and dispose of it in the garbage.

Mole traps can be an effective but controversial way to control mole activity in your garden. When used appropriately, they can help prevent further damage to your plants and crops. Remember to always follow the instructions for your specific type of trap and dispose of mole bodies safely and responsibly.

Professional Help

Professional help can be a great solution for homeowners who are dealing with a mole infestation in their garden. There are several options for professional assistance, and choosing the right one can make all the difference in effectively getting rid of moles.

| Option | Description |
| Exterminator | An exterminator is a professional who can come to your home and remove moles using specialized tools and techniques. They will typically assess the severity of the infestation and use a combination of traps, pesticides, and other methods to eliminate the moles. This can be an effective short-term solution, but it may be expensive and may not prevent future mole activity in your garden. |
| Wildlife Control | Wildlife control professionals specialize in removing animals from homes and gardens. They will typically use humane methods to trap and relocate moles, and they may also offer advice on preventing future mole activity in your garden. This can be a good long-term solution, but it may also be expensive and may not be necessary for all infestations. |
| Lawn Care Services | Lawn care services can help limit mole activity in your garden by maintaining a healthy lawn. This can involve regular mowing, fertilizing, and watering to keep the soil firm and less attractive to moles. This can be a cost-effective solution, but it may not be enough for severe infestations. |

When considering professional help, it’s important to weigh the costs and potential benefits of each option. It’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes and ask for references before choosing a professional to work with. Additionally, it’s important to take preventative measures to avoid future mole infestations in your garden.

Preventing Mole Infestations in Your Garden

As a gardener, it can be frustrating to find signs of mole activity in your precious garden. Prevention is the key to keeping these underground creatures at bay. By taking some simple steps, you can make your garden less attractive to moles and discourage them from making your yard their home. In this section, we’ll explore some effective strategies for preventing mole infestations in your garden. So, let’s dive into some practical measures to keep these pesky invaders away from your garden.

Remove Food Sources

One effective way to prevent mole infestations in your garden is to remove their food sources. This involves taking a closer look at what they might be feeding on and removing those items. Here are some steps you can take to remove food sources:

Step Description
1 Remove grubs: Moles feed on grubs and other insect larvae. You can use an insecticide to kill grubs or apply milky spore disease to get rid of them. Milky spore disease is a natural bacteria that targets grubs and does not harm other beneficial insects like bees or ladybugs.
2 Clean up debris: Moles also feed on worms, which are found in soil. Any organic debris that might attract worms should be removed from your garden. Also, make sure to keep your lawn clean and free of clippings, dead leaves or other debris that could be a source of food.
3 Control other pests: Pests such as slugs and snails can also provide a food source for moles. Use organic pest control measures such as handpicking or applying diatomaceous earth to get rid of these pests.

By removing the food sources for moles, you can discourage them from invading your garden. Be sure to maintain a clean and tidy garden to minimize the presence of other pests and debris that might attract moles.

Keep Soil Firm

One effective way to prevent mole infestations in your garden is by keeping the soil firm. Moles are burrowing creatures that prefer loose or soft soil, which makes it easier for them to dig tunnels and create molehills. To prevent mole infestations in your garden, follow these tips to keep the soil firm:

  • Aerate the soil: This involves loosening compacted soil using a garden fork or aerator. Aeration allows for better water and nutrient absorption while making it harder for moles to burrow through the soil.
  • Use heavy machinery: If your soil is extremely compacted, heavy machinery such as a roller or a lawn tractor can be used to level the soil and make it more firm. This also reduces the number of spaces where moles can create tunnels.
  • Water properly: Overwatering can cause soil to become soft and loose, making it easier for moles to burrow. Proper watering techniques, such as using a soaker hose and watering deeply but infrequently, can help maintain firm soil.
  • Plant deep-rooted plants: Plants with deep roots can help anchor the soil and make it more resistant to mole activity. Examples include trees, shrubs, and deep-rooted perennials.

By using these methods to keep the soil firm, you can discourage moles from burrowing in your garden and prevent damage to your plants and lawn. Remember to also combine this with other prevention methods, such as removing food sources and installing barriers, for the best results.

Install Barriers

If you are looking for a more long-term solution to keep moles out of your garden, installing barriers can be an effective option. This involves setting up physical barriers that moles cannot penetrate, thereby preventing them from entering your garden. Below are some commonly used barriers and their effectiveness in deterring moles.

Barrier Type Effectiveness
Hardware Cloth Highly Effective
Chicken Wire Effective
Underground Fencing Effective
Rock Barrier Partially Effective

Hardware cloth is a tightly woven material that can be buried in the soil around your garden. This barrier is highly effective as moles are unable to dig through it. Chicken wire is another option that can be effective, though it is not as durable as hardware cloth. It may also be necessary to bury it deeper to prevent moles from burrowing underneath it.

Underground fencing is a more permanent solution as it requires digging a trench around your garden and installing the fence. This barrier can be highly effective, but it is important to ensure that moles can’t tunnel underneath it.

Rock barriers, such as large rocks or gravel, can also be effective, but only if they are large enough to prevent moles from burrowing underneath them. They may also need to be placed deeper in the soil to be effective.

It is important to note that while installing barriers is an effective way of preventing moles from entering your garden, it may not be 100% foolproof. It is still important to monitor your garden for signs of mole activity and take appropriate action if you do notice any signs.

Plant Mole-Repelling Plants

One of the most natural and effective ways to prevent mole infestations in your garden is by planting mole-repelling plants. These plants have strong odors or tastes that moles dislike, which makes them seek refuge elsewhere.

Here are some plants that have proven to be successful in repelling moles:

Plant Name Characteristics
Daffodils Have strong scents that moles dislike
Marigolds Produce a strong odor that moles find unpleasant
Alliums Produce a strong odor that repels not only moles but also other pests like squirrels and rabbits
Fritillarias Have a strong scent that moles find unappealing
Crown Imperials Produce a strong odor that moles dislike, they are also toxic to moles

Planting these mole-repelling plants in your garden not only keeps moles at bay, but also adds beauty and variety to your landscape. Just remember to plant them strategically in areas where mole activity is high, such as near molehills or surface runways.

While mole-repelling plants can be effective in preventing an infestation, they should be used in conjunction with other preventive measures for maximum effectiveness.

Maintain Your Garden Regularly

Maintaining your garden regularly is crucial to prevent mole infestations. Here are some tips on keeping your garden in top shape:

  • Remove debris: Keep your garden free of fallen leaves, grass clippings, and other debris. Moles are attracted to areas with abundant organic matter, so removing debris can make your garden less inviting to them.
  • Water properly: Overwatering can create soft, loose soil, which is ideal for mole burrowing. Water your plants deeply and less frequently to encourage deep roots and firmer soil.
  • Fertilize carefully: Excessive fertilizer can also contribute to soft soil. Use the recommended amount and spread it evenly throughout your garden.
  • Keep grass short: Mow your lawn regularly to prevent it from getting too long. Moles like to burrow in tall grass, so maintaining a short lawn can discourage them from making a home in your garden.
  • Inspect regularly: Check your garden regularly for signs of mole activity, such as molehills or surface runways. Early detection is key to preventing a full-on infestation.

By following these steps and maintaining a tidy, well-manicured garden, you can reduce the risk of mole infestations and keep your plants healthy and thriving.


Summing up, moles can cause significant damage to your garden by creating tunnels, molehills, and damaging plants and roots. It’s essential to identify the signs of mole activity as soon as possible to take action to prevent further damage.

If you do find signs of mole activity, there are several solutions available, including natural remedies, mole traps, and professional help. It’s also vital to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of future mole infestations. Removing food sources, keeping soil firm, installing barriers, planting mole-repelling plants, and regular garden maintenance are all excellent methods to protect your garden from moles.

Remember that moles typically invade gardens for their nutritional value and habitat where they reproduce. Therefore, preventing a mole infestation is a continuous process. Do not be discouraged if mole activity appears in your garden, and apply the appropriate solution.

Now that you are equipped with a complete guide to recognizing signs of mole activity in your garden, you can take confident steps to prevent and manage mole infestations. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

What time of day are moles most active?

Moles are most active during early morning and late afternoon hours.

What do moles eat?

Moles primarily feed on insects, earthworms, and other small invertebrates found in soil.

Will moles damage my garden plants?

In general, moles do not directly damage garden plants, but their tunneling activity can indirectly harm the roots and cause plants to wilt or die.

What is the difference between molehills and gopher mounds?

Molehills are conical piles of soil that are pushed up from underground tunnels, while gopher mounds are more irregular and fan-shaped.

Are moles and voles the same thing?

No, moles and voles are different animals. Moles are insectivores that tunnel underground, while voles are herbivores that live above ground and feed on grasses and other plants.

Do sonic pest deterrents work on moles?

There is mixed evidence on whether sonic pest deterrents are effective against moles. Some studies suggest they may work in the short term, while others have found no significant impact.

Do coffee grounds repel moles?

There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that coffee grounds repel moles. However, some gardeners claim they have had success with this method.

How do I know if I have a mole infestation or just one or two moles?

If you see multiple molehills, surface runways or subsurface tunnels in your garden, it is likely that you have a mole infestation.

Can I relocate moles to another area?

It is not recommended to relocate moles because they are territorial and may not survive in a new location. It may also be illegal in some areas to trap and relocate wildlife.

Do moles carry diseases?

No, moles are not known to carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans or pets.