Get rid of gophers with a gopher fence

Installing gopher fence underground

Installing gopher fence underground

For most people, gopher control consists of setting traps or using poison. Those methods do not deter gophers and I want to keep them out of my yard altogether. An underground wire fence will do that as it creates a permanent barrier between gophers and plants.

I’ve previously documented my battle with gophers which led me to replace the grass with concrete and gravel. That worked extremely well and I now have a beautiful, low maintenance backyard. But there was one area left unprotected, my vegetable garden.

For many months the garden was undisturbed until the gophers decided to come back and see what’s up. And that’s when I knew the time had come to put an end to this once and for all.

One of the gopher tunnels in the vegetable garden

One of the gopher tunnels in the vegetable garden

Read on for the step by step instructions.

If you have raised beds to protect, you might want to check this out.

For gopher-proofing a new lawn, you might be interested in this article.

Materials for an underground gopher fence

½” x 4′ x 25′ 19-gauge hardware cloth (I got mine from Home Depot)
Tie wire for attaching pieces together
12″ concrete pavers
Wire cutters and pliers
Measuring tape

Hardware cloth and concrete blocks for making gopher fence

Hardware cloth and concrete blocks for making gopher fence

The most important component is hardware cloth. Nothing else will do. Don’t even think about using chicken wire because gophers can chew through that with no problem.

My vegetable garden is outlined with concrete blocks and my idea was to sandwich the hardware cloth between those and 12″ concrete pavers.

I figured that my garden would need three rows of hardware cloth that would overlap by about a foot. There doesn’t need to be that much overlap, six inches would be enough.

Vegetable garden before installing gopher fence

Vegetable garden before installing gopher fence

How to install an underground gopher fence

Dig a hole

The first step was to dig a very large trench to the depth of about 14″. I did this in three sections knowing that there would be three rows of hardware cloth to cover the entire area.

The worst part was trying to find a place for all that dirt. There were piles everywhere, sitting on top of tarps and cardboard to keep dirt from getting into the gravel.

First section dug out of garden about 14" deep

First section dug out of garden about 14″ deep

Measure sides and bottom to get hardware cloth length

Once a section was dug out, I got in the hole and used the measuring tape down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. That figure was for cutting out a length of hardware cloth for the section.

This process is very much like sewing where you measure, cut and attach pieces together, only using wire instead of fabric.

Measuring inside the hole for hardware cloth

Measuring inside the hole for hardware cloth

Cut matching piece of hardware cloth

Hardware cloth was rolled out and secured with concrete blocks. It wanted to curl up on itself.

I measured the correct length and cut across using wire cutters.

Measuring out a length of hardware cloth

Measuring out a length of hardware cloth

Bend hardware cloth into shape and install

The hole was about 14″ deep and I wanted the hardware cloth to start about 2″ below the concrete block edging. So I bent the sides of the mesh down 12″. After I bent the first edge, I opened it back up and bent the other sides down.

Bending it was pretty easy. I cut a notch in the side at the 12″ mark and folded the wire down on itself, making sure the edges lined up. Then I walked sideways all the way across to the end.

At the corners I cut down one side so the pieces would come together to form a right angle.

This resembles the way a cardboard box is put together. The photos below illustrate this process using a piece of paper.

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And here’s a photo of the real thing.

Hardware cloth bent to fit inside trench

Hardware cloth bent to fit inside trench

I put the finished bent wire piece in its place inside the hole and, voilà, it was a good fit!

Installation of underground gopher fence

Installation of underground gopher fence

Put concrete pavers around perimeter

Concrete pavers all around the perimeter will keep the hardware cloth in place.

Hardware cloth held in place by pavers and dirt

Hardware cloth held in place by pavers and dirt

Fasten rows of hardware cloth together

I used pieces of rebar tie wire every 3 to 4 inches to connect the sections and corners together. I started cutting the pieces longer to make them easier to work with.

Fill in hole with dirt

I thought this would be the easiest part but the dirt didn’t want to all fit back in the hole. It needs a lot of tamping down as you fill and I just did a little of that by walking on it. Then I watered it down thinking that would help it settle more.

Here’s a pictorial showing the project as it progressed:

It took about three days to put all the dirt back in and I still have some leftover!

Vegetable garden after installing gopher barrier

Vegetable garden after installing gopher barrier. Notice the pile of dirt leftover!

The whole project took about a week. Nobody can see any sign of the gopher barrier and pavers as I intended.

At long last the war is over and I won!

In related news, my next door neighbor reports gophers have now started tearing up their lawn.

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