In the words of Tom Jones ‘it’s not unusual’ for me to be wrestling with one or two gardening problems at any time. Most recently it’s been garlic rust and the slug festival which follows yet another downpour. So I was delighted to add another to my caseload – in the form of mounds of earth carefully deposited all over an exceptionally well-manicured lawn. (No. Of course it isn’t mine. I said ‘well-manicured’).
A quick assessment of the situation – namely the look of complete anguish on the face of said lawnkeeper whilst pointing to the hillocks informed me that platitudes were not the thing. I made a pot of tea, stirred a lot of sugar into the cup and beat a hasty retreat, promising to ‘look into it’.
I’m not a lawn fanatic and am also a keeper of garden hens. Thus my experience of moles is limited. On the odd occasion when the garden has sprouted a molehill, I’ve brushed it into the grass and called it ‘lawn dressing’ or scooped it up and used as seed compost. But for greenkeepers and lawn enthusiasts I understand their anguish.
A few hours later and I was armed with ‘the knowledge’ thanks to books, the greenkeeper at the local golf club, friends, acquaintances, someone’s great uncle who used to be a molecatcher on a large country estate about 100 years ago and of course, my old pal Twitter.
So here, friends, are my top tips for dealing – or not – with moles in your garden in no particular order with comments on effectiveness.
- mothballs stuffed down the run – Mr Mole will make himself another run elsewhere in your garden and you’ll be incapable of using the garden either. Useful to determine which of your friends has no sense of smell though.
- Jeyes fluid on old cloths or diluted 1:20 and poured down the run – as above but you may prefer the smell.
- glass bottles buried up to their necks or those annoyingly tacky paper windmills. The sound will drive your Mole crazy. It will be like living next to ASBO family from hell and he’ll move house. – possibly and it will create a new feature in your garden.
- onions, garlic or leeks as recommended by none other than Gerard the herbalist. Stuff them in the mouth of the run and watch Mr Mole run out in terror to be caught by your dog. Don’t bother.
- cat litter You’re better off giving it to the cat.
- blowing smoke down the run – a great way to perfect the art of smoke signals and wile away an hour. You’ll need to be at it night and day for total success and you’ll end up smelling like you’re on permanent scout camp.
- annoying greetings cards placed in the run – the ones which play a tune not those with awful jokes. Mr Mole may find them as annoying as you but the chances are you’ll end up at the asylum first.
- brambles – will take himself off to another part of the garden, leaving you to get more brambles. Eventually you’ll be living in Sleeping Beauty’s palace waiting for a handsome prince to come along.
- garden hens – this works. The constant vibration of the hens pecking about deter the mole but hens are more destructive to a great lawn than moles.
- sonic repellant – those who’ve paid for one say it works for a while
- chilli powder – successful up to a point. Clearly Mr Mole is a plain eater. My mother-in-law should cook for him.
- Planting Euphorbia lathyris (Caper spurge or Mole Plant), Castor Oil plant and Crown Imperials in your garden is said to deter moles – not entirely successful but worth a go. Reports that some moles rather like the planting scheme.
- traps – some humane, some clearly not. You pays your money and takes your choice. I wouldn’t. Catching a mole can be a slow process and they are highly territorial.
- look on the bright side and adopt a permaculture approach using what it brings to your garden and turning a negative into a positive.
The presence of a mole indicates that you have a healthy garden – plenty of earthworms just below the surface of a well-watered garden. Molehills make perfect seed compost or brush them into the surrounding grass to keep it healthy. Whatever you think, the damage is caused by just one mole. The tunnelling (and therefore the damage) will stop after a few days except for the odd bit of routine Mole maintenance or in a very cold Winter when he’ll need to dig deeper for food.
So there you have it. No prizes for guessing which option I’d choose. Feel free to add your comments. I’m always happy to be even better informed about such matters.