I listened to The Wind in the Willows with my son over Christmas. Ratty and Mole, the best of friends, lead a tranquil life keeping themselves to themselves. If only this was true in reality. For rural gardeners in particular, rats and moles are two of the biggest challenges you face.
We’ll look at rat management next week. This week we’re focusing on moles. I’ll admit it – I think moles are sweet (Monty Don describes them as winsome), but I don’t relish the sight of mole hills in our garden. We’ve tackled mole-management on this blog before, but as moles get particularly active in February (they’re on the hunt for romance) it seems like a good time to revisit the humane ways to banish them.
A mature adult mole can dig up to four meters of tunnel per hour, which is a lot of damage for your lawn. You may have dozens of mole hills in your lawn, but only a handful of moles living in your garden – on average there may be three or four in an acre. They’re prolific burrowers, and create their infamous molehills by pushing the soil they’re displaced to the surface. And their tunnels destabilise your lawn, collapsing in soggy weather meaning you need to refill them to enjoy an even lawn. They’ll start searching for mates in February, and in April and May their litters will arrive.
Some silver linings
You’ll most likely have moles because you have good quality soil. They’re there looking for worms and your garden is an all-they-can-eat banquet. The soil they push to the surface makes good compost, and their tunnels can help drainage – particularly in claggy clay soils. But these benefits can be little consolation when gazing on a ruined lawn.
How to bid a fond farewell
You’ll find our info about mole barriers, pit traps and electronic devices in our previous post . But there are other less orthodox methods you could try. Moles are sensitive to smell, and some gardeners swear by smelly, biodegradable things placed strategically in their tunnels – think stinky cheeses or dried grass soaked in gone-off milk. Apparently loud sounds drive them off too, so you can crank up the radio and place them over the tunnels.
More extreme measures?
Gardeners in Ireland and Northern Ireland lead a mole-free life. I’m sure there are other problematic mammals for them to battle with, and Ratty may still call on you too, but if you’re particularly desperate you could always relocate. Payne’s Turf can still deliver to your door.