Moles and molehills

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I don't believe it. I am incandescent with spluttering indignation. For the first time ever a molehill has appeared on my lawn.

Molehill in James Alexander-Sinclair's gardenI don't believe it. I am incandescent with spluttering indignation. For the first time ever a molehill has appeared on my lawn.

We've lived here for about 15 years. Before that the garden was a concrete farmyard, so this particular mole is the equivalent of Christopher Columbus seeking out land upon which no mole has previously trodden.

I'm not really precious about my lawn - it's mostly rough old grass and a generous helping of weeds - but a mole can cause a bit of trouble if you have a more precious sward (they also tend to undermine young plants).

As everybody knows, moles are rather attractive black, velvety furred creatures with enormously powerful paws. They charge around in shallow tunnels eating earthworms. They also paralyse worms and store them in underground larders for later consumption.

So far, there is only one molehill in my garden, so I hope that it looked around, didn’t think much of the surroundings and legged it somewhere else. Otherwise I may have to do something. There's a number of interesting remedies (apart from traps) put forward for driving moles away. These include putting one of those annoying greetings cards that play tinny music in the run, burying mothballs and either blowing smoke or putting cat litter in the burrows. Apparently they don’t much like alliumscrown imperials or castor oil plants (Ricinus communis).

I also once successfully used electronic sonic repellers (they emit a buzzing sound that drives them away) to keep moles off a cabinet minister's croquet lawn - although they reappeared in the herbaceous border. Come to think of it, I was probably put down on his parliamentary expenses!

On the plus side, the soil in molehills is excellent for making your own potting composts.

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2009 at 15:50

I sympathise. I have recently been visited by a mole. He surfaced at the edge of my son's 8 foot diameter plastic pool and tunnelled all the way round it! I plan to dig this area over and turn it into a veg/plant bed so maybe he has done me a favour! I have taken the live and let live attititude and he has migrated under the beds along one side of my garden, causing bulges under my gravelled area and in the beds. When I re-levelled this area I was quite impressed at his abilities. He has not ventured out into the lawn, apart from a few short deviations and no hills have appeared. I have put a few mothballs in the tunnels, and I think (fingers crossed!!) that he has moved on to pastures new. I haven't heard my neighbours cursing, so hopefully he has found his way back to the fields at the back of my garden. My only disappointment is that I never witnessed him popping his head out of a hole. The only mole I have ever seen was a dead one on the road. I actively encourage birds and other wildlife into my garden and love to watch them, so I accept I have to take the rough with the smooth. Que sera!!

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2009 at 16:09

Well, it may not get rid of the moles, but the neighbours will be entertained!

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2009 at 16:34

A friend's father used to put his dog's 'doings' down mole hills - based on some kind 'fear of larger predator' type theory. Not sure it worked but he was remarkable cheerful while doing it...

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2009 at 17:27

I have had similar problems. Built our house 19 years ago, surrounded by farmland, but no previous problems with moles. He uddenly appeared in the spring, & made several molehills all around our pond. I kept flattening them only for him to keep renewing them. He is now venturing right across vast areas of the lawn by digging tunnels everywhere. He is lifting the turf but not breaking the surface. I don't mind too much, but one of these days I'm doing to fall into the garden, so will have to keep an eye on things. I haven't tried getting rid of him, as I'm hoping he'll go & join the cattle next door.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/08/2009 at 13:12

Having moved in to our house, whichis surrounded by fields, we saw our first mole hill on our rear lawn some 14 years ago and innocently thought how wonderful that we had a mole to add to our wildlife list for the garden! A year or two later I was counting the No. of mole hills just in one area of the back garden and lost count at 75 and I was only 2/3 of the way across. The lawn, was non-existent by the time the moles had finished and looked like the craters on the moon. Finally, after two years we plucked up the courage and we did set traps. We were mole free for a good year, having laid a new turfed lawn, but they have returned, both at the back and front of the property now. It's a difficult decision to make but we will reset the traps, as we have found it the only effective way of dealing with them.

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