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gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Posted by thisbud4u San Diego (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 7, 07 at 4:58

Question for the group regarding the use of hardware cloth to keep out gophers:
My boss bought some half inch hardware cloth for me to use around the rootballs of several trees when I'm planting them, to keep out the gophers. Usually in the past, I've used one inch chicken wire, which is a much thinner gauge wire as well as having holes twice as big. The trees I'm to plant include cherimoya, apricot and fig, all of which, I think, have big roots. My concern is that the half inch hardware cloth will girdle the roots as they start to extend into the surrounding soil. Am I correct, or will the hardware cloth be OK to use for big-rooted trees in order to keep the gophers away from the young trees?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I've never had this problem so this is just my opinion. Seems likely that the 1/2 inch will work. The roots may be slowed a little but I think they will heal around the wire. At the most the growth will be slightly dwarfed. Likely you will see no affect.

What experience I do have is with grapes and fruit trees rooting thru Al window screen used to line the bottom of pots. They root thru that and heal around the very small mesh of window screen.

The Fruitnut


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Thanks, fruitnut. The potential dwarfing would be OK with the fig and apricot, but we're hoping that the cherimoyas will grow to become giant shade trees, so I'll take the precaution of getting some one inch chicken wire for them.

Does anyone in the fruit & orchards group actually have experience with caging rootballs to keep out gophers? If so, have you ever observed dwarfing due to inadvertant root pruning by the wire of your cage?

Thanks.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

After battling gophers for the last 20 years here is my opinion: there is no substitute for actually trapping them wherever you see an active mound. California pocket gophers are pretty easy to catch. I used to catch 6 a day on the same blood-soaked trap, set with bare hands. Oregon gophers are some 12 ounces big, they are huge (size of a kitten), and very wary. You cannot have any human odor or bloody-other-gopher scent on the traps at all. Unlike the California kind.

I used to dig massive holes and line them with hardware mesh, but I always worried about what was going on with the roots. Plus, hardware mesh encourages you to be lazy and not trap gophers, so the gophers go all around the cages and chew everything off! Still no good.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Gophers go through my 1' hex, so I switched to 1/2" hardware cloth several years ago. My gophers are untrapable. Cats keep them in check. I've looked all over for 3/4" hex but it seems not to exist. Can't offer any certainties here, only ways to improve the odds.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

plumfan, the idea behind the wire mesh (of whatever type) is just to protect the fragile young tree before it has gotten itself established. You are quite correct that there is no substitute for trapping, and my gophers are trappable, with some difficulty, but if you miss just one, it can kill a young tree pretty efficiently.

fruithack, thanks for the detailed info. Damn, they go through a 1" mesh, do they? I don't think my adult gophers could get through (I've caught some real fatties!), but the younger ones probably could. I'd give my eyeteeth for 3/4" chickenwire (or as Home Depot is now calling it, "poultry netting").

Regarding gopher-killing critters, we've got three types on our property, and they do a fairly decent job, but not good enough. We have the cutest (and friendliest) gopher snake (he even let me pet him!), we have owls, and we also have coyotes. Even with all three, I'm still losing trees. The damnable problem is, those gophers have their sex hormones on hyperdrive, and they simply reproduce faster than the critters can kill them.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by hkg1 z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 23, 08 at 0:35

I know this is a little off topic, but does anyone have any experience in using:
1. gopher repellent (those you sprinkle on the ground) or
2. those electric ones that emit sounds which claim to scare the gophers away

I would really love to know how effective they are.

It is quite impossible for me to wire all my new plants going into the yard since I am dealing with a pretty good size yard. Trapping is something I probably can't deal with (I don't know if I can handle the blood). Any other effective alternatives would be greatly appreciated.

hkg1


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

We trap and cage both. I worried about the same issue. Recently I have been digging out a row of roses that had been planted in 3/4" gopher cages. I found that over the years the wire had deteriorated and that the roots had not had any trouble getting through. This was exactly what I hoped would happen, so I was pleased.

I am planting new fruit trees in the tree-sized cages and fruit shrubs in the same size cages as I used for the roses.

Rosefolly


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Trapping is the best, most effective solution, and really not that difficult. The wire is designed to give the tree a year or two to get established, and then the roots are beyond the wire. The cost of the wire, digging bigger holes, etc. needs to be weighed against the simplicity of catching the gohpers. Each one eliminated NEVER has to be dealt with again, and causes no further damage.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

hkg1,

I use tunnel traps (which aren't usually bloody) and also bait in some locations. The tunnel traps I place flush with the floor of a gopher tunnel, place some soil just inside the entrance, block the end hole with a carrot and put some parsley or carrot tops near the back, by the hole with the carrot. Cover all edges of the trap and the holes for the trap mechanism with soil to keep out light. I also place a big tractor disc above to keep the dogs out of the hole I have dug (you might use a board). Once or twice a gopher has come out of the trap unharmed when it was released, so be prepared.

If you want to try bait, use a fast-kill type especially for gophers. I think mine has strychnine in it. The gophers do not come to back the surface of the ground, often going to their nest after eating the bait. Gophers may adapt to a slow-kill bait for other rodents, so they're not a good bet.

I fasten a measuring spoon to a plastic ruler with a tie so that the joint swivels a little and place the bait as far as I can into the tunnel. Flip the whole thing over when you can't push the ruler and spoon any further into the tunnel. Place just a few fresh greens closer to the mouth of the hole to attract the gopher into the tunnel. Cover the end of the hole with soil and pack down. If there are pets around, cover the whole thing with an old tractor disc or a weighted board or piece of plywood so they don't dig up the poison.

After the gopher has had two or three days to find and eat the bait, you can water the area to disperse the poison, which is biodegradable.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I use a probe to find the gopher tunnels. As long as the soil is not bone dry and hard. You can tell when you have found a tunnel as you will feel the probe quickly drop. I use baits also when not using alumimum phosphide gas. I drop the baits in the hole I probed. I almost always find the bait gone the following day.

Trapping is also very effective and I know guys that have killed 8 to 10 per day. They use the box traps that look like mouse traps inside. The gophers go through and hit the trigger and get trapped in the jaws of the trap like a mouse trap. You put them right outside of the holes and sprinkle alittle cracked corn in the box to entice the gophers to go through.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 27, 08 at 12:17

Ca cherry grower, your golfers must be very different than the ones around here. I can spot a golfer tunnel entrance from hundreds of feet away. The tunnels themselves are way to deep to find by probing around. They appear to usually go down about one to two feet after a sharp decline from the entrance.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Brandon,

We call them pocket gophers around here but I am not sure what else they are called. Sometimes in the early morning, Occasionally, I will find their feeder or entrance holes, but they normally plug those holes before I get a chance to find them. With my probe, I usually find tunnels a foot deep, sometimes as much as two feet deep. The probe will go down steady and as soon as I hit the tunnel about a foot down, the probe will suddenly drop. After doing it a thousand times, you get a good feel for it.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 28, 08 at 14:33

Sounds like voles to me, but maybe they are gophers. I just looked up gophers on Wikipedia and found out that there are many different kinds. The article listed digging behaviors like I am used to, but with that many different types, there are probably variations. BTW, below is a cool link on how to get rid of the varmints.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wholesome Outdoor Family Fun


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Someone asked several responses back if the repellants worked. I've tried them--they are made of castor oil. I felt they had a slightly repellant effect, but it was mild. In other words, it only lasted a few days and it slightly discouraged, but by no means eliminated the gophers. My best bet has been to put hardware cloth along my back fence line (I dug a 3 foot trench) and then use traps at the first sign of activity. I too am squeamish, but as someone pointed out the tunnel traps (sort of like a black tube) aren't too bad--you just see the back end of the caught gopher poking out a bit (I've never seen any blood). I just throw the trap out. That is very wasteful, of course, and somewhat expensive (at $15 a trap), but I am just not up to releasing the dead gopher!


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Brandon,

I know what voles are and they are not voles. We don't have voles in our area. They are pocket gophers. Gophers mounds are unique and are different than voles. I have been dealing with gophers for years


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 5, 08 at 14:53

Ca cherry grower,

I guess what you were describing above was how you locate where the tunnel is running after you see an entrance. I had thought that you meant you just went out and probed your whole yard for tunnels.

BTW, Voles never make mounds. Voles do sometimes adopt mole tunnels, which do have small mounds. A mole mound is generally round like a mini volcano with dirt approximately equally distributed on all sides of the hole. Pocket gophers produce fan-shaped mounds with the dirt all or mostly on one side of the hole.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Brandon,

The gophers make the fan shaped mounds. I am chasing them in my commercial orchard. When we converted from flood to sprinklers years ago the gophers took over. There were gophers everywhere. I couldn't get reliable help so I just started going after them myself. I try to go out early in the morning as I can still see the fresh dirt where the gophers were working the night bfore. There were hundreds of mounds everywhere and I finally managed to kill them all. Now, I am just getting a couple here and there that migrate from neighboring fields. I have a couple that came over during the winter and have to get them. I also have several owl boxes with owls which seems to help.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Gophers will stay away if you use Gopherout. I was sick of the traps, wires, you name it. This is completely natural and inexpensive. It's the only product that is tested by an independent certification orgaization.

www.gopherout.com


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 28, 08 at 23:30

Pardon the intrusion, I had a small garden during my years in CA, that was wiped out by gophers.

A friend told me that for fruit trees, one would have to finely break a dozen glass bottles or so, and carefully mix them with the planting soil. Usual rabbit and deer protection would apply too. The idea was that a gopher would not be able to dig through soil that would cut its paws.

Unlike chicken wire, this method is permanent (in MI, I had several years vole-free, in my chicken wire lined raised beds. Then the wire started to degrade...). Can anyone comment if this works? I can tell you it does not work with chestnut seeds and squirrels. They will carefully dig up the glass, put it aside, and get to the nut. But for burrowing critters it might work.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I think that the best approach is to use wire netting and traps in combination. I don't use poisons of any kind both because I have a dog and because I don't want any of the natural predators to be accidentally killed. We have a few owls and a gopher snake. Without them on our side, I'm sure the gopher population would be much higher. It is bad enough as it is. I don't want it to be worse.

I have never seen 3/4" hex wire sold at a big box store. One local independent hardware store is willing to order rolls of 3/4" hex aviary wire. Aviary wire is a thinner gauge than true gopher netting. You ought to be able to find a place that sells the real thing by googling "gopher netting rolls" or "gopher wire rolls". I bought mine from Martin Ranch Supply in Rohnert Park (near Petaluma).

I personally would not do the broken glass method. You are likely to hurt yourself or future gardeners if you do. I can see that one would be driven mad in frustration and might consider it, but it strikes me as one of those things you would come to regret very deeply.

Rosefolly

Here is a link that might be useful: Martin Ranch Supply


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 29, 08 at 10:31

When I broke glass for my chestnut seeds I found it to be easy. I used a 20 lb rice bag, made of cloth, with a zipper.
I filled it with beer bottles, closed, and hammered away. Then I poured the contents in my wheelbarrow, mixed with the original soil, and planted.

I am not sure what I would do. Another friend in CA has had his property since 1986. He has been unable to get a single fruit tree growing. Some of it is deer, but he has tried about a dozen times.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

dittos rosefolly, I use both. I trap but I also start new trees with wire around the root ball. They can find a new tree and eat all the root in one day so it pays to protect them to start. I use the wire that they sell for stucco. its usually a lot cheaper. Especially mango and cherry, they eat them like candy. The wire rots out in about 2 years in our soil so the roots don't have a problem, and by then there are enough roots that the tree will survive an attack until I get the traps in place.
good luck


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

That sounds great. I need 10 sq.ft. of hardware cloth. What would be the shipping from China on that?


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

If you haven't planted trees yet but you have a lawn with gophers one of the ways to get rid of them is to kill off all the grubs that live under the grass. Around here they are the typical food for gophers and if you get rid of them the gophers go elsewhere. Now if you have trees with roots the gophers like to eat and grubs you want to protect the trees before you kill the grubs. I don't think Banker Wire has chickenwire, but they have all sorts of stiffer wire mesh that has been useful in other gardening projects, so if you wanted to protect your roots with something a bit more substantial they might be worth looking at. I don't recommend the architectural mesh for gardening, it's a bit too expensive for that purpose. They are in Wisconsin, and they do sell direct to consumers.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://bankerwire.com/banker_industrial.php


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

If any of you gopher-haters are out there, I too just got myself some wire mesh and it has worked better than I could have ever dreamed.

Try:

http://www.bwire.com/


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

  • Posted by girlbug2 9/10, Sunset zone 23 (My Page) on
    Fri, May 7, 10 at 12:01

I plant my figs and persimmons with 3/4" wire mesh for the past 5 years, and it seems to do the job. Like somebody said, you just need 1 or 2 years for the trees to get established before they can survive an attack. By that time, my gopher disposal system can take over (a very talented hunting cat! He gets 1 or 2 per day. They never run out because the gophers can migrate from a nearby field).

OTOH, if you want to trap golfers, I find that Heineken is the best bait.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

Hire someone with a rodentinator to come out and get rid of the gophers. They fill the tunnels with propane and then blow it up.

The machine is a bit too expensive to purchase just for home use.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

hmmmm fill the tunnels with propane? while that would asphyxiate them, it also sounds dangerous if the tunnels run under your house, which they probably do. traps do the job just fine.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I would stay away from the propane idea and use some wire traps.


JC
http://www.bwire.com/


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

To all,
Recently, I attended a seminar presented by the Ag Extension folks here in San Diego area. Excellent info they presented.
They recommended a type of trap that is made here in California, and so we bought a bunch for use on our farm. It is absolutely the best trap I've ever seen. I have no financial connection whatsoever with these folks, except I'm a customer. The company is called Trapline, and here's the website:
http://www.traplineproducts.com/onlinestore.html
They make three traps, which are identical except for the size of their jaws. For small gophers, which we have, I use and recommend the Trapline Mole Trap--standard size. I'm sure it would work on moles, but it works great on gophers, both small and large. They make two larger sizes, the Trapline Mole trap, large size, and the Gophinator. The trouble with the gophinator, for us at least, was the fact that its jaws are too big to fit into the tunnels made by our gophers, which (for whatever reason) are smaller than gophers elsewhere. Personally, I think we have smaller gophers because we keep killing them off, so they never get big and fat. If you have a pasture with gophers who have been in residence for a decade, then you'll probably want the gophinator trap. Anyway, I swear by these traps, and so does our USDA extension service.
ThisBud4U


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I have a question. I dug a 150 foot long trench along my fence line around my entire yard where I am gonig to burry a wall of 1/4 inch galvanized hardware cloth. There are 9 newly planted Italian Cypress trees along the the trench where the galvanized mesh will be buried. Will the trees be alright with the mesh only a few inches away from the root ball on one side?


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

tuffloud1,
Well, I wouldn't call it optimal. And personally, I wouldn't do it. Think about it--the roots on that one side won't grow very well. Twenty years goes by, the trees are fully grown, and you get a really big wind storm. What do you think's gonna happen? Those trees are going to blow over on the side where they have no roots, (well, a very poor root system) because of your wire mesh. Remember, those beautiful columnar Itlaian cypress (which I absolutely love) are very prone to being top heavy because of their shape and their denseness. They need a strong root system all the way around to stabillize themselves against strong winds. My advice--move the trees or move the fence.
ThisBud4U


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

thisbud4u,

Oh no!! It took me two days of labor digging 150 ft by hand in between the Cypress trees and the fence. I already inserted the mesh and shoveled all the dirt back in. I am so frustrated!! What now? I can't move anything because my entire landscape is all in place. Can't the roots grow through the mesh?


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

tuffloud,
Sorry to hear this. I wish someone else would comment on this. I really think I'm right, but maybe it'll be OK. Personally, I'd spend the extra time and do it right--move either the trees or the mesh fence. Yes, some roots will get through, but criminy, 1/4 inch is ridiculously small. Nope, it's just a no-win situation IMHO. I know this is going to sound Monday-morning-quarterback-ish, but you should really plan out big projects like this.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I'm just revisiting this old thread and I saw the comment about getting rid of grubs to get rid of gophers. The rodents which eat grubs are moles, not gophers. Gophers are vegetarians and only eat plant material, primarily plant roots.

Rosefolly


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I use traps at times but my quickest method to kill pocket gophers is as follows:

Make a probe out of something like an old golf club with the head cut off. Use this to find the tunnels as mentioned in other posts here. Best to try probing between two mounds.

Find a 6 ft piece of flexible aluminum clothes dryer venting tube. These are about 4" in diameter. Take a 4" planting pot and cut the bottom off. Duct tape the 4" end of the pot to the venting tube. This reduces the opening on one end to about 3".

You will also need a posthole digger and a tractor disc or piece of wood to cover the hole you will be digging.

The last piece of equipment you will need is your oldest car or truck. I use my suburban. Older is better because they have more toxic exhaust.

Now probe to find the tunnel. Drive close enough to where the hole will be so that the exhaust pipe is within 4 ft. Open up the tunnel with the posthole digger. Place the 3" end of the tube on your exhaust pipe and the other end in the hole you dug to the gopher tunnel. Be careful not to push it all of the way down and plug the end. Place rags around both ends to prevent exhaust from leaking out. Let the engine run for 15 to 20 minutes while you open up the next (different set of tunnels) tunnel at least 30 to 40 ft away to get the next gopher. When done gasing cover the hole with the disc to keep the exhaust in the tunnel.

In one day you can gas all of the gophers in a 1 acre area easily. You will be suprised at how quick you can get at this.


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RE: gopher-proofing with wire mesh

I know this is an old posting, but I think I can help in summarizing and explaining some of the postings.

The odds when you are talking about fencing material that is hexagon in shape, you are talking about chicken wire/poultry fencing which are made of regular steel and will rust, it will last from 3 to 5 years and then it is gone. So it is possible that when fruithack from CA mentioned they went through the 1 inch hex, it is possible that they went through it a few years after he put it down. Or also possible is that the chicken wire is so thin that they can chew through it.

Wire mesh (which is either square or rectangle) can come in any shape starting with the 1/2 by 1/2, but in 1 inch increments after that. The thickness is larger as well, 14 to 16 gauge. But wire mesh can also be in regular steel or galvanized steel. The regular steel of course will rust but a little longer then the chicken wire and that I am not sure, what I have seen in regular wire was actually baling wire, but it was about 40 years old and was about 1/2 gone so it does last a lot longer.

Now the Galvanized wire mesh is a lot different. I have been working with it so far for about 10 years now since the first gopher cage I put down was in the fall of 03 and if you were to look at it now you really don't see a difference between that and the new stuff coming off the roll now.

The down part of the galvanized wire mesh is that it is expensive, just under $2.00 a measured foot after taxes here or a little more after shipping (so far in my search)

Traps, you have to dig down to a workable tunnel which is most likely a foot or two down. You might get lucky and find a feeder tunnel workable, but rarely. (make sure you secure it so the gopher doesn't take off with it.

Repellants which like he said is mostly castor oil (which you can purchase by itself cheaper) is weak and does have to reapplied since Gravity will continue to pull it down away from the tunnel every time you water.

Poison? Pray that it works immediately. Squirrels (which they could find the poison also since they will share tunnels sometimes) are more likely then gophers, but gophers will also go above ground to die. If this happens and your, or your neighbors dog finds it and eats/plays with it you now have a dead dog as well. There was an incident in this area when I was young in which a neighbor put poison down for the gophers, squirrel got it and came above ground in the fenced yard of the neighbors dog pen with all 5 dogs. They all played with it and by the time the neighbor came home from work all 5 were gone and the squirrel (in not too good of shape though) was still there as well.

Propane in the tunnels then blow it up. I am picturing a law suit in that one. These tunnels weave in and out of your neighbors yards on all four sides (yes they will go under the road also) so when your yard is blown up so will the neighbors who then can sue both you and the person who did it (you hired him)

Glass? there will be a time where you will have to do some digging in that area for one reason or another, if not you but your future generations/grandkids and they will have to try to do that with out cutting themselves to pieces. In California you have to either tell the future buyer of the the hazard or completely get rid of the hazard or both if the inspector determines that it has to be cleaned up. You will still have to tell them because there will be the possibility that some of the hazard is still there.

So the original question has not been answered since the only person who said yes was most likely not using galvanized welded mesh wire and it was possible that the wire was rusted through when the gophers got through.

Another problem is that if they really want to get some where they will go above ground and over it, usually at night, Not normally but I even had one that not only went up and over the cage, but also traveled on top for almost 2 feet to get to my beautiful corral colored carnation. It went by three pansies and the red carnation to get to that corral colored one, (If I knew language worse then a sailor I would have used it. LOL) So if you do find that he got into the cage then dig and follow the tunnel to see where and how he got in.

My cages are only 12 to 18 inches deep so they can't go too far down before they hit bottom.

Spock

This post was edited by spock on Sat, Mar 1, 14 at 22:11


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