How to Get Rid of Moles In Your Yard and Keep Them Away

Mole poking up through a hole in the grass

Moles are unwelcome guests on your land: If you’ve noticed unsightly mounds of soil and raised ridges ruining your lawn, moles may be the culprit. These garden pests can damage your lawn, vegetable garden, and plant roots. Learn how to get rid of moles in your yard and keep them away with baits, traps, and repellents, among other effective methods. 

What Does Mole Damage Look Like?

A mole pile looks a little like a volcano.
Photo Credit: Jana Illnerova / Needpix

Moles aren’t the only critters that dig or rip through manicured yards. Gophers, voles, and shrews could be burrowing tunnels that look like veins in an otherwise green landscape. 

Here’s how to tell you’re dealing with moles in the yard:

Mole Hills and Tunnels

Homeowners can recognize mole hills as looking like little volcanoes above the ground. Mole hills, also called mole mounds, are a symmetrical and circular mound of dirt that leads to an underground network of tunnels.

Ever see the movie “Tremors”? Well, mole tunnels can make it seem as if you have some of those nasty monster worms roaming your yard. Their main runways are underground tunnels that cause raised ridges on your lawn and serve a dual purpose: Tunnels are how moles hide from natural predators and how they hunt. 

There are two types of mole tunnels:

  • Surface runways: Slightly raised, grassless brown streaks running across the lawn indicate tunnels just under the topsoil.
  • Deep tunnels: Usually 3-feet underground, are like complex homes. These include a food storage area and bathroom areas. You can identify them by the mole tunnel entrance and exits.

Once moles decide to infest your lawn, they can cause significant damage in a very short period of time. One mole can tunnel up to 18 feet per hour in the right conditions, so getting a yard mole removal plan in place is important!

Mole tunnels are marked by raised trails in your yard.
Photo Credit: Jomegat / Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA

How Do You Get Rid of Moles In Your Yard?

Here are some mole control methods to consider: You can set traps to catch these furry pests, use repellents, and apply DIY treatments such as castor oil.

1. Mole Traps

Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap (2 Pack) | Made in The USA!!

Use a mole trap (or a mouse trap, since moles are about the size of a large mouse). Some traps work well for killing moles. Others will catch moles that you can release (at least 5 miles away from your home is best). The goal of traps, though, is mole removal, dead or alive.

Pro Tip: Wear gloves when handling mole traps, as moles dislike people. Your human scent will scare them away from your trap.

2. Mole Bait

Tomcat Mole Killer, Mimics Natural Food Source, Poison Kills in a Single Feeding, 10 Worms

If you want to know how to kill moles, mole baits can be an effective solution. From the mole’s perspective, these baits look and smell just like earthworms. 

All you have to do is drop these into a mole hole, and the mole will take the bait, eat it, and die in its tunnel.

3. Mole Repellents

Bonide MOLEMAX Mole & Vole Repellent Granules, 10 lbs. Ready-to-Use, Outdoor Lawn & Garden Mole Control, People & Pet Safe

Often the key ingredient in mole repellents is castor oil, which is non-toxic. These castor oil repellents come in granular, liquid, or spray form.

  • Granular: Granulated repellents tend to last longer than liquid or spray options.
  • Liquid: The liquid variety is commonly diluted before use. If the ratio is wrong in mixing, it can reduce the efficacy of the product, and too high a concentration can damage the lawn. Always read directions carefully.
  • Spray: Is an easy solution. You can apply repellent spray directly to the lawn, but it needs to be reapplied more often then the granular or liquid.

4. Castor Oil and Other DIY Home Remedies

Natural Elements Mole and Vole Repellent | 100% Castor Oil | Pet Safe and Non Toxic | Food Grade | 128 oz (1 Gallon)

Castor oil is a non-toxic, effective pest deterrent and won’t damage your lawn. You can buy at garden centers, hardware stores, or online at places like Amazon.

Create a spray that is made with 100% castor oil, water, and liquid detergent. Here’s the DIY mole repellent recipe from the University of Nebraska:


  • 6 ounces castor oil
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap
  • 1 gallon of water


  • Water the area to be treated with one-half inch of water before applying this solution.
  • Add castor oil and dish soap to 1 gallon of water. After the solution is mixed well, dilute 1 ounce of solution per gallon of water and spread it evenly over your yard with a spray bottle or sprayer.
  • Water the treated area again with at least 1 inch of water after you apply the castor oil spray.

Moles are mostly blind, but they can smell in stereo! You can add cayenne pepper (moles hate spiciness) or essential oils like eucalyptus and mint oil (two smells to get rid of moles) to increase the potency. 

Other DIY Home Remedies

Old coffee grounds scattered around the tunnel entrances or exits can be a natural repellent as the smell annoys their sensitive noses. 

5. Fence Them Out

Burying hardware cloth and erecting in-ground fences will prevent moles from building their homes or tunneling into garden beds. 

6. Hire a Pest Control Pro

For dealing with extensive mole problems on your lawn, it’s best to call in a pest control professional or wildlife relocation specialist. They can provide a mole treatment for your lawn or handle the lawn mole removal for you.

Mole Removal Methods to Avoid

If you have been under the impression that mothballs and ultrasonic transmitters are effective mole removal methods, it’s time to update your knowledge. These strategies are not backed by science and are not considered effective. Check out the reasons why:


The National Pesticide Information Center advises against using mothballs to repel moles as they aren’t intended as animal repellents.

Here are some factors that led to the common belief in the past that mothballs were effective for keeping animals away.

  • Mothballs were made up of different chemicals in the past. 
  • Former product labels may have recommended their usage as repellents. 
  • Our knowledge about pesticides and their potential hazards has improved over time.
  • The mothballs of today typically contain almost 100% active ingredient, either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene. 

Note: According to Judy Loven, Indiana state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control Program stationed at Purdue, mothballs may be illegal to use in a manner not stated on the label. 

She also mentioned that today, mothballs are technically classified as an insecticide regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Their active ingredients are volatile and can evaporate quickly (from a couple of minutes to several hours). 

Ultrasonic Transmitters

The thought process behind ultrasonic transmitters is that they emit sound waves that cause nausea in moles, forcing them to leave and relocate to a different area. However, Judy Loven claims that ultrasonic transmitters are a waste of money. 

While Loven appreciates the concept, she told Purdue University’s news service that although she wishes they worked, unfortunately, they don’t.

How to Prevent Moles From Returning

You don’t want a mole hole leading to a mountain of a problem. Once you have said goodbye, you’ll want to keep them out. 

  • Protective plants: Some plants like alliums, daffodils, fritillarias, garlic, marigolds, and shallots are natural pest repellents and drive away the moles’ food source. Planting these in your flower bed or around your vegetable garden will help keep pests away. 
  • Mulch and compost piles: These are a magnet for moles. If you’re making your own compost, try using enclosed bins. Thick layers of mulch piled up against tree trunks or plant stems can attract insect pests and cause decay.
  • Remove their food source: Milky spore and beneficial nematodes will kill the grubs that moles eat.
  • Correct drainage Issues: If you find areas where water is collecting, it may be time to level your lawn. It will save damage in the long run and won’t attract moles to the soft ground and bugs.

What is a Mole?

Mole poking out of the ground, surrounded by fresh dirt
Photo Credit: Beeki / Pixabay

Since moles are not commonly spotted scurrying around the yard, homeowners may wonder, are moles nocturnal?

The answer is yes, moles are nocturnal and spend most of the time underground. They’re especially fond of areas with soft, moist ground to dig in. These shy lawn pests are rarely seen, but you’ll know if it’s a mole when it has:

  • Velvety fur
  • Small eyes and ears
  • Large front paws
  • Narrow nose, like a snout
  • Tiny body, 4.4 to 6.25 inches in length

What Moles Eat

Moles are insectivores, feasting on mole crickets, grubs, insects, larvae, and earthworms (which are beneficial for a healthy lawn or garden).


1. Why are Marigolds and Daffodils Said to Repel Moles?

Daffodil bulbs are toxic, which is why moles may avoid their roots. Marigolds help deter moles as the natural chemicals in the plant may repel the grubs and insects that are their food source.

2. How Deep Do Mole Tunnels Go?

Deep tunnels, usually 3-feet underground, are like complex homes. These include a food storage area and bathroom areas. 

3. What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Moles Naturally?

Set a mole trap, use bait or repellents (such as castor oil), install an in-ground fence, or hire a professional.

4. What Does Mole Damage Look Like?

Look for raised linear ridges and volcano-shaped mounds in your lawn that are closed off with soil pushed up from underground.

If you find multiple lines of ridges entering and exiting your yard, it’s a sign of mole infestation, and you’ll need to consult a professional mole control service.

When To Hire A Professional 

For extensive mole problems, hire a pest control service or wildlife relocation professional to handle the mole removal. Not only do they know how to get rid of gophers and moles, but they can also help you with grub control. Call a pest control professional today.

Main Image Credit: Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA

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Phillip Forsgren

Phillip Forsgren

Quirky, corny, and a little too invested in research. Phillip Forsgren grew up laboring over book reports and, as a result, became a freelance writer.