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What Attracts Gophers To Your Yard? (What To Avoid!)




How to Attract Gophers To Your Yard

One of the most prevalent types of ground-dwelling rodents is the gopher. It is common to find them outdoors and in places like vegetable gardens and parks, which are generally related to the soft soil where they are found.

Gophers will be attracted to various flowers, vegetables, trees, and other plants in your yard (including your lawn!), and they do prefer backyards with a water source such as a pond. They will also be attracted to bird feeders and other pet food or accessible garbage.

Gophers can thrive on many plants, including trees, shrubs, vegetables, flowers, and grasses. They thrive by eating the plant’s stems and roots. The best bait for gophers includes alfalfa or vegetable stems and roots.

Most people have had to deal with gophers at some point. If not, it is quite probable that you will. It is also possible that their waste products will disperse across the environment as they move through the ground.

Gophers are undoubtedly a big problem for both farmers and homeowners. To keep gophers from returning to your garden or yard, the first thing you should do is to identify what attracts them.

What are Gophers Attracted To?

As you have probably already read on my site, gophers are mostly vegetarian but will eat some insects.

They will also love whatever food items you put out like the seeds of bird feeders and pet food.

This means that your vegetable garden is a preferred hideout for them because of the variety of vegetables, pet food, and plants available. However, although gophers prefer root vegetables, they do mostly eat more easily accessible foods such as grass!

What Attracts Gophers To Your backyard
A water source and easy food sources will all attract gophers! However, the most attractive part of a yard is likely to be the grass-filled lawn itself!

Considering that gophers are mostly nocturnal, they like to spend most of their daytime underground and will come out to forage at night.

As they do not see well, they rely heavily on their smell to find food. So strongly smelling food items attract them more than more subtle ones!  

Also, if you have chickens or other animals, they will smell them from afar and associate them with livable conditions and food.

A garden pond or a pool is also a plus for gophers, as it means better access to fresh drinking water. And they might even go for a swim!

A title image of gopher swimming
See my post on gophers’ aquatic endeavors here!

A watering sprinkler system, on the other hand, will often deter gophers as they do not like being out in the rain and it may collapse their tunnels.

Gophers love the roots and stems of carrots and potatoes and those of other vegetables like shrubs, radish, grass, and even flowers. Aside from that, they also like eating a different variety of insects.

The more foliage you have in your garden, the greater the likelihood that gophers will smell it and make your yard their home. Gophers continually look for new locations to establish a home base in their quest for food.

Grazing the lawn with other clover and grass is not uncommon for them and they will easily smell and be attracted to most of your garden flowers.

 However, they prefer to consume the tubers and roots of acorn seeds and plants.

What Smell Attracts Gophers?

The scent of food is one of the strongest smells gophers use to find their way around. A hungry gopher will walk straight toward the smell of

Gophers are mainly attracted by the smell of food. Their preferred items to eat include things like various flowers, vegetables, bulbs, tubers, delicate stalks, bird seeds, pet food, leaves, and grassroots. Beyond that, they also like to ingest the roots of trees.

Read about what flowers attract gophers in my other post!

In line with that, the desired gopher smell includes the scents produced by rotten fruits. However, this type of pest may completely ignore a trap or bait if it smells like human sweat. On the other hand, you can always use grass and rotten fruits as gopher bait.

But gophers are also attracted by the smell of mates, which they can smell even when underground! The males dig their tunnels to cover a large area so that their chance of digging into the tunnel of a female gopher is maximized.

As soon as they enter a tunnel of the opposite gender, they can smell it and will search for the individual to mate.

What Foods Attract Gophers?

When you think of rodents, gophers aren’t the first animals to come to mind. In fact, most people have never even seen a gopher, let alone interacted with one. But while gophers may not be the most common rodents around, they are certainly one of the most common species of pest rodents.

As other rodents, the diet of gophers is a broad one – including everything from flowers, to roots, vegetables and insects! In any of these are easily accessible in your yard, they will attract gophers.

Gophers consume a wide variety of vegetation with no particular preference. Crops, flowers, and plants have been damaged by them. Gopher’s diets are affected by the availability of food sources. They may eat a wide variety of plants depending on where they live.

I have already written about the diet of gophers, so you can read more in my recent posts:

Vegetables that gophers eat.
Roots that gophers eat.

They consume plants that are part of the yearly flora-eating cycle. Depending on the season, a gopher’s diet may change. Foods eaten by gophers include a broad range of things, but these are the most common:

If you are more interested in the diet of gophers, check out my other posts on that subject here on the site!

What Plants Attract Gophers?

For the most part, gophers eat grasses and forbs as their primary source of nutrition. Forbs are a genus of large-leaved plants with herbaceous stems native to North America.

Those include hyssop, watercress, goldenrods, asters, and sunflowers. However, only a few species of shrubs may be found among the flowering forbs.

Vegetables, such as cabbage, potatoes and carrots, are among their favorite plants. However, they also consume a lot of fruits and seeds, and if a bird feeder is present in your yard, they will eat what falls to the ground!  

However, because these items are not too abundant in all yards, gopher’s diets were discovered to be 64 percent grass-based, as concluded by the Colorado scientists. These tiny rodents like eating dandelion and clover throughout the summer and spring.

Gophers usually eat the roots and plants in the near vicinity of their tunnel openings.

Aside from that, researchers in Nebraska tracked the feeding patterns of pocket gophers over three years as part of their study.

These people concluded that more than half of the gopher’s diet was made up of grasses available in the area they live – so having a lawn is a huge attraction for a gopher!

In the early sprint and late summer, these gophers were shown to eat a variety of roots or anything available to them, but grasses are simply more abundant.

What flowers do gophers not eat?

Apart from some of the flowers mentioned above, there are many flowers that yard owners may care about.

And whereas gophers will eat many types of flowers to a lesser degree than their favorites, there are definitely flowers that are more gopher safe than others!

There are some types of flowers that gophers will perhaps smell and taste, but they will not eat them as their main source of food if other food items are available.

These flowers that are considered gopher safe are:

  1. Bleeding Heart
  2. Pulmonaria
  3. Coleus
  4. Lavender
  5. Thyme
  6. Blue Salvia
  7. Sedum
  8. Russian Sage
  9. Phlox
  10. Lamium
  11. Lambs Ears
  12. Nicotiana
  13. Euphorbia
  14. Astilbe
  15. Ageratum
  16. Coralbells
  17. Catmint
  18. Mums
  19. Yarrow
  20. Hardy Geraniums
  21. Plumbago
  22. Agastache
  23. Wax Begonias
  24. Goldenrod
  25. Ferns
  26. Gaillardia
  27. Salvia
  28. Hosta
  29. Threadleaf Coreopsis
  30. Angelonia
  31. Foamflowers
  32. Amsonia
  33. Iris
  34. Daylilies
  35. Helleborus
  36. Beebalm
  37. Alyssum
  38. Geraniums
  39. Perilla And Vinca
  40. Barrenwort
  41. Monkshood
  42. Cleome

It depends slightly on the time of year and the age of the gophers, but these should include most flowers that yard owners are concerned with!

How to Keep Gophers Out of Your Yard

There are several methods for keeping gophers away from your backyard and I have written more extensively about them here.

Hand Keeping gopher away
Here comes my favorite tips to keep gophers at bay without getting too close!

I have listed them in the order of which ones I find are the best solution and what I see recommended by friends and people around the internet. The ultrasonic devices seem to be the most popular!

1. Ultrasonic Sound Emitters

My absolute favorite invention to keep pests away from my backyard are these cool solar-powered ultrasonic sound emitters that you can buy right off Amazon!

Groundhogs and gophers, as well as other animals that may invade your garden, tend to have very good hearing so they will be bothered by ultrasonic noise that we humans cannot hear!

They send out loud or consistent noises (that only they can hear) that will scare them away or at least shorten their visits significantly!

In my experience, they really work, and the solar panels on top save you the time and money of changing batteries all the time.  

My favorite ultrasonic emitters. Click to read more at Amazon.

2. Fencing

Fencing is the best way to keep gophers away from vegetables. Gopher-proof fencing is typically made out of poly wire, plastic mesh, or heavy-gauge wire netting.

A gopher fence to protect your plants!

You can build a simple fence to surround an entire garden or yard, or you can create individual small enclosures for each vegetable plant in the garden.

3. Gopher Traps

Use gopher traps to catch and kill gophers on the ground before they can eat your vegetables. There are several types of simple traps that you can use, but most work best if you set them after the gophers have already started chewing on your plants. I prefer those that catch them alive, so you can drive them far away and set them free.

4. Water and Fertilizer System

If you have drip irrigation or a sprinkler system in your yard, then you can trick gophers into thinking that heavy rain is coming and that the entire area is flooded because of all the moisture.

This will discourage gophers from digging up your veggies because they prefer to stay dry when possible and because they cannot breathe in flooded tunnels!

If you don’t have a drip irrigation system then you can water your vegetable garden a bit more than usual when gophers are around. This will keep the gophers away, just like flooding the entire yard would.

5. Motion-activated sprinklers

Like most animals, gophers hate surprises, and they will run away if suddenly sprayed with water. I like this solution because it is humane, simple, effective, and does not require much time to set up and there are many models to choose from.

My favorite sprinkler option here is the Havahart 5277.

For more inspiration on how to keep gophers out of your yard, see my latest post for a full and updated list of the most effective means of keeping gophers and groundhogs out of your yard.


In conclusion, gophers are attracted to yards with soft soil, a variety of plants, and access to water. They are mostly nocturnal and rely heavily on their sense of smell to find food.

Gophers will eat a wide variety of plants, including vegetables, flowers, grasses, and trees. To keep gophers from returning to your yard, you should identify what attracts them and reduce those attractants or use my recommended methods to deter them.

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