Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, gardening and landscaping can be extremely rewarding. Cultivating the perfect yard with pristine landscaping is something that many people are extremely vested in. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time perfecting their garden or landscaping knows what a nuisance small burrowing animals can be. One of the most detrimental animals to your garden and yard is the vole. It is important to know that the term “vole” actually encompasses a large number of subspecies. All of these pesky little creatures share a few key similarities though.
They all create a “runway” of sorts underneath the sod that can consist of hundreds of feet of tunnel. If this is happening in your yard, you will notice raised sections of grass usually 2”-3” across. More than simply digging up your yard, voles also have a voracious appetite. They are extremely opportunistic feeders and their diet includes almost all forms of vegetation, including grass, crops, young trees (saplings), bulbs and roots.
What’s more, voles will also eat the bark of young and mature trees (particularly in the fall and winter). Sometimes they will even eat enough of the bark from the base of a young tree to kill it. Even if the voles are not eating the plants in your garden, the tunnel systems they create can loosen the root systems and cause irrigation issues. The bottom line is that while voles are a part of nature and should be respected as such, if you are attempting to manicure your lawn to perfection or grow a award winning garden, these little guys are going to have to go.
Now the question is how to get rid of voles? Unfortunately, one simple method isn't going to work in all situations. Voles are rodents after all and they are going to be extremely difficult to completely eliminate. There are some things you can do that will effectively limit the damage that they can cause.
- Exclusion - this involves fencing in areas that you are trying to keep safe. Whenever attempting to fence out voles, it is important to bury the bottom of the fence at least 6” below ground so the voles don’t simply burrow underneath.
- Habitat Modification - simply put, you need to keep your garden well tended. Voles like a lot of cover so keeping your garden free of weeds and your yards mowed will go a long way towards discouraging vole activity. Methods such as tilling your garden soil regularly works well also. This will not only eliminate cover but also destroy any existing tunnel systems.
- Repellents - vole repellents can include a wide variety of substances. Some people swear by mothballs while others find that sprinkling hot chili powder can be an effective deterrent. A wide variety of store bought repellents are available that can be extremely effective.
Voles are extremely hardy creatures. If you live in an area with a large population, it is important to remember that you will likely never be able to eliminate them completely. The best that you can hope for is to find something that works well in your situation to keep those tiny feet off the grass.