When a gardener thinks of a mole, they likely think of a pesky rodent that leaves unsightly molehills in their once lush and green garden. The first instinct might be to get rid of these creatures as quickly as possible, but is that truly the right decision? Are moles really that bad for gardens, or can they actually be good?
There are six reasons why moles aren’t bad for gardens, including:
- Their tunneling acts as an aerator for the soil.
- Moles eat undesirable larvae that can disrupt roots.
- Moles also eat a variety of insects and pests that can harm young plants.
- They leave fertilizer near the roots.
- Moles attract other wildlife that will prey on unwanted rodents in your garden.
- They don’t stick around for long.
It might sound crazy, but the next time you see a molehill in your garden, you might not want to panic. We are going to discuss, in detail, the top 6 shocking reasons why moles aren’t bad for your gardens after all.
Top 6 Reasons Why Moles Aren’t Bad for Your Gardens
Moles have, unfortunately, landed a bad rep in the gardening society. After all, gardeners spend hours pruning and tending to their garden to not only make it look nice but ensure that their plants grow big and healthy. But the molehills left behind are a quick way to bring a negative, ugly aesthetic to your prized garden.
That doesn’t mean they are bad, though. In fact, the more we investigate the mole and what they do in their day-to-day lives, the more we realize that despite the ugly molehills they leave behind, they are trying to help our beloved gardens. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways a mole is actually your garden’s best friend:
1. Their tunneling acts as an aerator for the soil.
If there is one thing that a mole does consistently throughout the day, it’s tunneling. In fact, these creatures can tunnel over a whopping one hundred feet in a single day. That’s pretty incredible, considering they aren’t the largest creatures on the planet. But although they are small, it’s easy to say they are mighty when it comes to battling through the ground.
But how does this help you and your garden? Well, all of this tunneling through the soil underneath your garden is working as an all-natural aerator. As the mole tunnels through the ground, he is not only looking for food- in the process, he is also loosening the soil around your garden and helping to mix the topsoil with the lower soil.
This natural aeration and mixing of the top and low soil are highly beneficial to your garden. The soil underneath your plants is rich with nutrients and loosening them to the top ensures that your plants can soak up all the nutrients and grow bigger and stronger.
It’s also highly beneficial that while the soil gets loosened and mixed, there is also more oxygen being added to the soil. This, of course, is another great product for your plant life.
To put it simply, those annoying tunnels and molehills being left around your garden are serving a higher purpose that benefits your garden significantly. If you don’t want to till your own soil, let the moles do it for you- you will be glad you did.
Of course, every positive comes with a negative. Perhaps the biggest downside to moles traipsing and tunneling through your garden is- you guessed it- the unsightly molehills left behind. These mounds of dirt are not exactly the most pleasing thing to the eye and can really wreak havoc on your garden’s aesthetic.
The best thing to remember is that the mole is doing more good than harm with his molehills. If you can look past the molehills and see the purpose behind it, you might not be so concerned about the way your garden looks for a few months.
2. Moles eat undesirable larvae that can disrupt roots.
Did you know that insects leave behind larvae that are highly disruptive to root growth? Along with pesky grubs, larvae can rest on roots and end up destroying them in the process. Of course, this leads to plants that might not grow as healthy and vividly, or they may not end up growing at all.
If you want to get rid of ‘stunted growth’ due to unwanted larvae and grubs, then you should leave the mole to do his work. You see, moles eat grubs as well as insect larvae that can do damage to your plant’s much-needed root system. The result is obvious- roots can grow without any hindrance, which equates to healthier plants.
There is no downside to the moles eating unwanted grubs and larvae– that’s all great news for your thriving garden. However, we should also pay close attention to what other things moles consume. Since the mole is carnivorous, he will also munch on garden-friendly earthworms.
Earthworms are beneficial to gardens because they allow for more air and water to enter the soil. They consume natural organic matter scattered around your gardens, such as loose leaves and grass, and convert them into something that is easily and readily consumed by your growing garden.
But moles eat earthworms, which means you won’t have this creature helping your garden any longer. Is it a hard hit that will leave your garden to fail? Of course, not! Although, it is something that is a bit of a bummer along the way.
3. Moles also eat a variety of insects and pests that can harm young plants.
Many gardeners are aware that pests, such as slugs, beetles, and centipedes, aren’t ideal for their gardens. These types of insects can be devastating to your garden as they prey on the bulbs and roots of your plants, as well as younger plants that are just beginning to sprout.
Feeding on your plant in this way can cause stunted growth or plants that simply lack health and strength- and that’s exactly what you are trying to avoid when starting your own garden.
So how does that mole help in this situation? Well, it all roots (no pun intended) back to the fact that moles are carnivorous and feed on insects of all varieties, including the slugs, grubs, snails, and even spiders (poisonous and non-poisonous).
The best part is, moles aren’t likely to leave any of these creatures left in your garden. Why? Because moles have incredibly high metabolisms and must eat almost continuously throughout the day just to stay alive.
The mole regularly eats at least sixty percent of his body weight in larvae and insects and can sometimes reach up to ninety percent of his body weight in food. Paired with their keen sense of smell, moles are easily able to find insects in your garden and will swiftly devour them.
The mole keeps your garden safe and secure from pesky insects that can wreak havoc on bulbs, root systems, and even the entirety of a brand-new plant that is beginning to sprout.
At this point, you might be thinking, “But moles eat vegetation, too. That’s what keeps eating my plants!” but this is solely a common misconception. It’s important to remember that moles are carnivorous- which means they only eat meat, no plant products. Voles, mice, and rats are the real culprits who destroy and consume your garden, not moles.
Does that mean that the mole is in the clear when it comes to destroying bits and pieces of your garden? Unfortunately, no. When a mole is tunneling through and around your garden, he may accidentally disrupt the bulbs and root systems of your plants and bring them to the surface. Of course, this means that the bulbs and roots can’t reach enough soil and nutrients to thrive, which leaves your plant in a devastating predicament.
The other issue here is that voles will sometimes utilize the mole tunnels to reach their destination quicker. And, knowing now that voles are the vegetarians who like to munch on fresh garden plants, this can be a destructive issue for your garden.
All in all, though, you have to consider that the mole is working hard to ensure that pesky insects and larvae aren’t damaging your garden from the get-go. If you can deal with the fact that there may be a few bumps along the way, then you can rest easy knowing the mole is more helpful than anything. You can always replant exposed bulbs and roots!
4. They leave fertilizer near the roots.
Just like any animal, moles consume insects and larvae to convert into energy. Over time, the mole will eventually turn his meals into a natural fertilizer. If you know anything about gardening, then you know how beneficial a natural fertilizer can be to your plants. And if you don’t have to do any of the ‘dirty’ work but still reap the benefits, that’s a win-win in our mind.
The best part is that moles will deposit their natural fertilizer close to the roots of your plants. This is simply because he is underground in his tunnel anyways, looking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along the way, he’s destined to deposit some natural fertilizer that your plants will immediately benefit from.
There are no special tools or planning necessary. All this fertilizing is occurring naturally below the surface. If you start to notice that your plants are becoming bigger and healthier, then it might be the work of the mole’s fertilizer to thank.
To be perfectly honest, there really is no downside to this. Moles will deposit natural fertilizer beneath the soil, but close to your roots. You don’t have to deal with the mess or try and put the fertilizer in the perfect spot to benefit your garden- it all just happens.
5. Moles attract other wildlife that will prey on unwanted rodents in your garden.
This might be an out-of-the-box thought that might not cross your mind automatically, but it’s a big plus to leaving moles in your garden. Moles will attract other types of wildlife into your garden, which in turn will keep the rodent population under control. This will even keep mole overpopulation under control, as you don’t want too many moles leaving molehills all over your garden!
So how does that work, exactly? Well, think of a predator such as a fox. He preys on rodents, such as voles, mice, rabbits, and moles. When they see a rodent in your garden, they will come to the feast. This means that you will no longer have to worry about rodents coming into your backyard and munching on your thriving garden again.
The Difference Between Moles and Voles:
A quick note about voles and moles, since many people might not be aware of what they look like and might be confused why one is beneficial while the other is not. Voles look very similar to mice and eat vegetation. The mole, on the other hand, has a long snout, giant front feet, and might appear as if he has no eyes or ears. He is carnivorous, and thus, won’t affect your plants.
The biggest downside to this is that larger predators will be in and around your garden. Some people might not be so keen on having these predators, such as foxes, so close to their homes. However, you must think about the benefits. The foxes aren’t coming to harm you. They are focused solely on consuming the rodents that may be causing harm to your plants.
6. They don’t stick around for long.
The good news is that moles don’t stick around for very long. They are most active during the springtime, which means you will only have to worry about those unsightly molehills for just a few shorts months out of the year. When spring has passed, you can go back to enjoying your beautiful, lush garden that is mole-free. Simply rake over the holes to push the soil back in place when it’s time.
However, if you are absolutely against having moles in your garden, don’t worry- you’re not alone. While you are urged to consider all the good that moles do, if you’re absolutely against it, luckily there are a few great options for getting rid of moles in your space:
- Consider mole traps. These traps will be placed in active tunnels. This means you will need to pay close attention to the holes to see which ones are still being utilized by the moles. You can do this by flattening out the tunnel and seeing if the hole is open again the next day.
- Use a sharp repellent in the hole. You might also consider placing something sharp inside the holes to keep the moles away. Something like a thorny branch from your favorite rose bush or a piece of broken glass will do the trick.
- Use vibrations and high-pitched noises. There are many devices available that produce vibrations and high-pitched noises into the earth. Moles don’t like either of these as they disrupt their hearing and other senses, so they will stay away from the noise as much as possible.
- Don’t use poisons. Although there are many chemical repellents and other types of poisons used to handle moles in the garden, they cause more harm than good. These types of poisons can not only be a danger to the wildlife and your pets but pose a risk on your growing plants as well. It’s best to choose one of the three other methods.
Are Moles Good or Bad for Gardeners?
Now, there is a lot to say about the positives and negatives of having a mole in your garden. But what it boils down to is that moles are great for your garden. There may be a few downsides- the biggest one being unsightly molehills in your yard- but other than that, they provide so much goodness to your plants and soil that it is well worth the disruptions.
Keep in mind, too, that the ugly molehills only last a few months out of the year. And with these molehills, you reap the benefits of having a stronger, healthier garden that isn’t being bothered by larvae, pesky insects, and larger rodents like rabbits and voles that really eat and destroy your plant life.
If you can handle the molehills, it is highly recommended to leave moles alone. They are going to be a valuable piece of the puzzle when it comes to a top-notch, thriving garden. Try to ignore them, and you will be glad you did.
Moles have always been thought of as annoying, pesky rodents that only work to disrupt and destroy your garden. And while molehills might not be the most beautiful thing to look at, the mole works hard to make sure that larvae and insects don’t stand in the way of your thriving garden. They help loosen up and aerate the soil and even provide an all-natural fertilizer that plant life can absorb and enjoy. All in all, these are great creatures to have in your garden, so leave them alone and enjoy the results.