Gophers and Holes, Oh My!
Happy March from Desert Rose! In this month's blog we are going to discuss something Santa Fe has been seeing a lot more recently…gophers. Gophers are very problematic in a landscape and can cause serious damage in a very short amount of time. Gophers create tunnels underground that can be fairly shallow. These tunnels can collapse when a pet or a person walks on them, which can cause injury, like sprained ankles or torn ligaments. Gophers also leave behind mounds of dirt around your yard which not only look bad, but further act as tripping hazards as well. However, the biggest way gophers damage yards is by eating the roots of grass, plants and shrubs. This not only stresses the plants, but once a certain amount of the roots have been eaten, the plants will die due to lack of the plants’ ability to absorb enough nutrients and water.
If you notice gopher mounds in your yard, it is best to call a pest control company ASAP to reduce the amount of damage the gopher will do to your landscape. However, keep in mind that gophers can be very tricky to catch and the pest control company may need several visits to take care of the problem. And, if you are brave enough, you can even try to trap the gopher yourself!
Now that we know gopher basics, how can we prevent them? The first step is to build a landscape that doesn’t allow for gophers to destroy your plants. This is especially helpful for people who have continuous gopher problems because they live next to a vacant lot or have a larger property where gophers can thrive.
Desert Rose has had clients in the past with these issues and there are a couple of options available to reach a resolution. One way to protect individual plants from being destroyed is by purchasing or building a gopher cage, which protects the plant's roots. These cages are essentially chicken wire that's placed all around the root-ball of the plant prior to planting. This prevents the gophers from eating the main roots of the plant. These work great in existing flowerbeds, but it can be time consuming to build these cages or very expensive if you purchase pre-made ones.
The second option is if you are having a new flowerbed created that needs to be backfilled with dirt (i.e. mossrock or block flowerbed), a great preventative measure is to roll out chicken wire at the bottom of the bed before it is backfilled. It essentially is an oversized cage that will keep gophers completely out of the flowerbed. Make sure the chicken wire is placed along the sides as well - this will help to prevent gophers from tunneling across into the flowerbed. While this can always be done to existing flowerbed, it is a lot of labor and can be costly. However, if you have serious gopher problems it may be worth the investment since they will end up damaging a lot of plants and those plants will need to be replaced, which can quickly add up. If you are interested in gopher cages or gopher beds give Desert Rose a call and we will be glad to help!