Q: I have more mounds in my garden than vegetables, Help!
— Doris, Paso Robles
A: Spring is here, along with many critters that like to share the bounty of our gardens. Gophers, ground squirrels, moles and voles are the culprits whenever you have mounds or gaping holes in the ground where flowers, seedlings or harvest-ready vegetables once stood.
Here are some ways to bring balance back to your yard.
First, correctly identify the rodent that’s causing the issue.
Bait and traps are best when dealing with an established pest problem. However, we often share outdoor living areas with children or pets, making poisonous baits a less feasible option. Trapping requires that you check the traps every 24 hours for rodent visitors.
Once the pest population is low, attract natural predators or try exclusion methods such as gopher baskets or hardware cloth before planting or filling raised garden beds.
Invite predators such as owls and hawks to your garden by hanging nesting boxes, erecting perching stands and providing a water source.
Personally, I have been trapping and inviting natural predators at my home for 25 years. Both methods take time and commitment, but you will see results.
Choose the appropriate trap once you see evidence of critters. For voles, a simple mouse trap works best with fruit as bait. I prefer the cinch-trap for gophers.
There is no need to be stingy with setting traps, either. For just one gopher, you can set up six traps if you see six active tunnels to increase your chance of catching it the first night.
To learn more about rodent control and natural predators, attend the UCCE Master Gardeners’ next Advice to Grow By workshop, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo.
The spring plant sale will immediately follow from noon to 2 p.m. It features tomatoes, basil and drought-tolerant Mediterranean landscape plants.