Why do I have moles in my yard and my neighbors don t?

If you’ve noticed mole tunnels popping up in your yard but your neighbor’s yard seems mole-free, you’re probably wondering why. Moles are subterranean mammals that burrow underground, building an extensive tunnel system to hunt for food. They feed on grubs, worms, insects and other small invertebrates found in soil. Moles don’t eat plants or roots. Their tunneling and burrowing can damage lawns and gardens though by loosening soil and disturbing plant roots.

There are a few key reasons why you may have a mole problem in your yard while your neighbor does not:

Food source

Moles burrow and tunnel in search of food. If your soil has a greater population of grubs, earthworms and other prey attractive to moles, your yard will be more appealing than your neighbor’s. Moles may also be drawn to moist soil where prey can be more abundant. Use of fertilizers and compost can boost populations of soil organisms that moles feed on.

Soil type

Moles prefer loose, moist soils that are easier to dig through. Clay soils or heavily compacted soils are more difficult for moles to excavate. If your yard has looser topsoil or soil high in sand or silt content, it will be easier digging for moles. Neighboring lawns with high clay content may deter moles.

Presence of tunnels/burrows

Moles often use existing burrows and tunnel systems built by other moles, voles or gophers. If there are already tunnels present in your yard, it requires less effort for moles to move in and expand. Your neighbor’s yard may be mole-free simply because no tunnels have been started.

Attractiveness of habitat

Thick, tall grass and wood or rock piles provide cover and safety for moles. If your landscaping provides better hiding spots and protection from predators like hawks, cats or dogs, moles may choose your yard over your neighbor’s. Less ground cover and bare landscaping is less attractive.

Water sources

Moles require a steady supply of water to survive. They usually get moisture from their food sources, but will also drink from puddles, sprinklers, ponds or streams. Available water in your yard is a draw for moles. If your neighbor’s yard is drier, it will have less appeal.

Presence of tunnels/burrows

Moles often use existing burrows and tunnel systems built by other moles, voles or gophers. If there are already tunnels present in your yard, it requires less effort for moles to move in and expand. Your neighbor’s yard may be mole-free simply because no tunnels have been started.

Depth of topsoil

Deep topsoil with plenty of organic matter allows moles to easily construct extensive tunnels. Shallow or compacted topsoil is more difficult to excavate. Your yard may have deeper, looser topsoil that moles find easy to burrow through.

How Moles Select a Yard

When searching for a place to burrow and feed, moles assess certain features and characteristics of a yard or property. These include:

Presence of prey

An abundant supply of grubs, earthworms, beetles and other invertebrates that moles feed on is one of the most important factors. Soil with lots of potential food will attract moles.

Soil composition

Moles prefer loose, moist soil made up of sand, silt and organic matter. Clay soils and heavily compacted areas are more difficult to dig through.

Ground cover

Ground cover like tall grass, mulch or woodpiles provides protection and cover for moles. Bare soil or sparse vegetation offers less security.

Water availability

Moles need a reliable water source from the soil, sprinklers, downspouts or nearby wetlands. Areas with consistent moisture are ideal.

Existing tunnels

It’s easier for moles to reuse and expand old burrows left by other moles or tunneling critters than dig new ones.

Depth of topsoil

Deep topsoil with plenty of organic matter allows moles to construct more complex tunnel systems. Shallow topsoil deters burrowing.


Moles avoid areas with major ground disturbances like construction, trenching or heavy machinery compaction.

Predator presence

Areas with dogs, cats or other predators that threaten moles will be avoided.

Key Differences Between My Yard and My Neighbor’s Yard

When trying to understand why I’m battling moles and my neighbor is not, comparing our yards is key. Here are some notable differences:

Soil composition

My yard has sandy loam soil that retains moisture and is easy to dig through. My neighbor’s yard is heavy clay soil, which is much harder to tunnel in.

Food supply

I use milky spore annually to treat for grubs, but still have a high earthworm population that attracts moles. My neighbor treats their lawn with chemicals that may limit prey for moles.

Ground cover

I have a yard full of landscaping, mulch beds, tall grass and rock walls that provide cover for moles. My neighbor has minimal decorations, short grass and few hiding places.

Water sources

I have an irrigation system, stream, and marshy area that provide constant water. My neighbor’s yard relies just on rainfall.

Existing tunnels

My yard had vole tunnels that provided initial burrows. There were no pre-existing tunnels in my neighbor’s yard.

History of moles

I have battled moles for many years. My neighbor has never complained of moles before.

Yard Features That Deter Moles

If you want to make your yard less attractive to moles, there are several landscape features you can incorporate:

Gravel or rock beds

Gravel or crushed rock is an effective barrier against moles. The coarse, uneven ground deters digging. Place a 3-foot wide perimeter around gardens or lawns.

Concrete pathways

Solid concrete walkways prevent moles from burrowing in their surface. Use around gardens, patios or lawns.

Narrow planting beds

Moles prefer wide expanses for tunneling. Narrow planting beds bounded by paths or rock make conditions cramped.

Uneven terrain

Moles don’t like burrowing where the topography is irregular. Berms, hills and raised beds can deter them.

Motion-activated sprinklers

When triggered, these sprinklers briefly water the area, flooding tunnels and startling moles. They can be effective repellents.

Trees and shrubs

Moles tend to avoid areas with extensive tree and shrub root systems which obstruct tunneling. Planting more may discourage them.

How My Neighbor May Be Discouraging Moles

While my yard seems like mole paradise, there are some ways my neighbor’s landscape may be naturally repelling moles:

Clay soil

The predominant clay soil type in my neighbor’s yard makes digging much more difficult. Moles prefer loam or sandy soils.

Compacted soil

Years of foot traffic and lack of aeration have left my neighbor’s soil heavily compressed. Dense soil deters burrowing.

Minimal ground cover

With just short grass and few shrubs or vegetation, my neighbor’s yard offers minimal cover for moles.

Less organic matter

Limited addition of compost or fertilizers may mean fewer earthworms or grubs attracting moles.

Concrete paths

My neighbor has continuous concrete walkways around their house and gardens that block tunnels.

Treated lawn

Pesticide or insecticide use may reduce prey like grubs. Granular mole repellents could also be applied.

Motion sprinklers

I notice my neighbor has motion sprinklers that regularly soak their lawn. This could discourage moles.

Few existing tunnels

With no previous mole burrows or vole tunnels, the yard requires more effort for moles to excavate.

Steps for Deterring Moles From Your Yard

If you want to get rid of moles in your yard, there are several effective control methods to try:

Eliminate food sources

Applying beneficial nematodes or milky spore to lawns kills grubs and larvae. Reduce compost and fertilizer to lower earthworm populations.

Alter soil composition

Add sand, gravel or crushed stones as a natural tunnel barrier. Aerate heavily compacted areas.

Remove protective cover

Cut back overgrown areas. Eliminate woodpiles, mulch beds and other hiding spots attractive to moles.

Limit water sources

Redirect downspouts and runoff. Adjust sprinkler use to drier areas only. Consider motion activated sprinklers.

Exclude with fencing

Burying hardware cloth, chicken wire or mesh barriers with bent bottoms can block moles.

Use repellents

Sonic, vibration or castor oil based mole repellents may drive them away. Reapply frequently.

Trap moles

Lethal mole traps like harpoon or scissor styles quickly kill tunneling moles. Humanely relocate live-trapped moles.

Benefits of a Mole-Free Yard

Deterring moles from your yard provides several advantages:

Prevents lawn damage

Your grass will be free of unsightly tunnels, ridges and soft sunk-in areas from subsurface burrowing activity.

Avoids soil erosion

Tunnels can channel away and displace soil, but mole removal halts this excessive erosion.

Protects garden beds

Your valued flowers, vegetables and plant roots will be safe from disruption and loosening in mole tunnels.

Reduces tripping hazards

With moles gone, you won’t be at risk of twisting an ankle or falling due to collapsed tunnels.

Improves aesthetics

Your yard will have a neat, lush and attractive appearance without mole tunnels marring the landscape.

Allows landscape enjoyment

End the nuisance of moles so you can fully relax and enjoy your yard without worrying about new tunnels appearing.

Increases property value

Preventing moles enhances the desirability and value of your property for future buyers.

The Bottom Line

Moles can be extremely difficult pests to control, but taking steps to reduce their food supply, alter soil conditions, eliminate cover and exclude them from your yard can lead to success. With some persistence and the right exclusion tactics, you can have a mole-free landscape to enjoy and improve the value and usability of your property. Don’t let moles continue to damage your lawn and gardens unabated. Take back control with an integrated pest management approach combining deterrents, exclusion and population reduction methods as needed.

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