Gophers are little creatures with digging claws and sharp teeth. They can ruin lawns and gardens, eating vegetables and flower bulbs, and leaving mounds of dirt in their wake. They can also damage your trees by chewing on the bark in winter, and cause even more destruction by gnawing on water lines. Plants such as gopher purge and castor bean may deter gophers from tearing up your yard because of their toxicity.
Gopher purge (Euphorbia lathyrus), also known as gopher spurge or mole plant, does not necessarily repel gophers, but the latex found in its roots, leaves and flowers is poisonous. Once the animal gnaws on the plant, it will become sick or die. When gopher purge is planted in the gopher’s main tunnel, it will protect other plants for the gopher’s teeth. To ward off these creatures and protect your garden, remember to replant the gopher purge every two years.
Castor bean (Ricinus comunis), an annual plant with large leaves and toothed lobes, produces seeded fruit. The entire plant is poisonous to eat, but the seeds are the most toxic. By planting the castor bean around your garden or lawn, you can protect it from unwanted vermin, such as gophers, since the creatures will become sick or die from ingesting the plant. While the castor bean grows quickly, be aware that the seeds require a frost-free season to mature, which might mean you will need to replant every year.
While gopher purge and castor bean may deter gophers from feasting on your garden, their effectiveness is inconsistent. If the gopher neglects to eat either plant, it can still go on to destroy your garden. Other methods to rid your lawn of these creatures are kitty litter, predator’s urine or pine oil soaked rags placed in the gopher’s tunnels; applying ultrasonic noisemakers; or trapping the vermin. Protect trees with wire mesh inserted 2 or 3 feet into the ground, rising 2 feet up the trunk.
Kristen Marquette has been a professional writer since 2009 when FireLight Books published her debut novel, "The Vampiric Housewife." Since 2000 she has helped students hone their written and verbal skills in English as a tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.