How to Keep Away Voles
In order to keep away voles, you’ll first need to identify once and for all that voles are causing the problems you have in your back garden or yard. There are many signs of vole damage, starting from burrow entrances to surface runways, root damage on trees, particularly those that bear fruit, and gnawing and chewing marks on the bottom halves of trees and shrubs. Not bad for an animal that only grows to nine inches maximum. This one is the water vole, the largest of all 120+ vole species. The one you are most likely to see is only about the size of a large mouse / small rat, and that’s the meadow mole. Aside from these two, you are also likely to encounter prairie voles and woodland voles. Despite being different sizes, with different mannerisms, they all perform that burrowing act, helping to distinguish them from other wild critters.
There are a number of ways you can keep away voles, and we’re going to take a closer look at a few of them right now:
There are quite a few types of vole repellent on the market, and a few homemade remedies too. As a general rule we would suggest that you don’t get your hopes up on these working. Nine times out of ten, these homemade repellents and commercially sold deterrents don't work at all, or work for a very short space of time, until the animal realizes there is nothing to worry about.
Garlic is often used as a vole deterrent, crushed up or left as chopped cloves around the garden. It is said that voles don’t really like the smell of garlic, but with more and more of us eating this on an almost daily basis, if that were the case, voles wouldn’t come anywhere close.
Just as with many vole repellents, you will need to continually put down the crushed or chopped garlic to ensure its effectiveness continues, if it even proves effective at all.
Castor oil is another homemade remedy often used to keep voles away, and it’s because it reportedly has the same effect as garlic. There is a smell to the caster oil that the animal doesn’t like that much, and mixtures that are made of one part dish soap plus three parts castor oil can be sprayed onto lawns where voles dig, tree roots and trunks, small shrubs, and even into their burrowed holes too.
Sadly, the castor oil method is not recommended, mostly because of the concerns raised when using dish soap as a form of pesticide. There are many types and brands of dish soap that use potentially dangerous ingredients to wildlife. In the same way that you wouldn’t want your cat or dog to lick up dish soap, you certainly wouldn’t want wildlife to come in close contact with it either.
Gravel can be sprinkled on the plants that seem to be the most affected by voles, with a ratio of about ten percent gravel, and ninety percent soil (or whatever the original material was). The idea behind this is to give the voles an unpleasant texture to dig into, encouraging it to find somewhere else. Using this method in a moat-like style, as in, creating a circular moat of gravel around a bed of hardest-hit flowers or plants, can work to keep some of the voles away, but wont’ work against the most determined of characters.
Pinwheels can be used in areas of high wind as an effective method of keeping voles away, and that's because they cause vibrations. Noise works in a similar way, sending vibrations running through the soil and confusing the blind voles. Also, another great trick in windy areas, is to use empty glass bottles. When you submerge the bottles in the soil and wind blows through the neck, a whistling noise will happen. It won't be too annoying for you in the house, or your neighbors, but it is likely to drive the voles a little crazy. These are also quite good tricks to use when you have a mole problem too.
Vole Fences & Barriers
When voles are burrowing underground, they’re building dens or hunting for food. If they come across the kind of bulbs that you’ll likely have growing in your garden, there’s a good chance they’ll eat them. Hardware cloth can help to solve this problem, especially when a fence that specifically reaches a couple of feet down in the ground is erected to protect the plants. Beds filled with bulbs can be covered with a chicken wire framework, and you can also use a chicken wire or hardware cloth protection frame around trees too, keeping them safe from voles, as well as a variety of chewing and scratching animals. This is an especially good trick for young trees, and works best when the layer beneath the ground extends to at least 5 or 6 inches, with at least a couple of feet above the ground.
You can buy some vole “baits”, but we would NEVER suggest using these as a method of controlling and repelling voles. These baits generally contain anticoagulants, which works in the same way as rat and mouse poisons. These are slow-acting, often taking a number of weeks in order to take effect, and are not safe for the local wildlife, as well as domesticated pets.
You shouldn’t use rat or mouse poison, not just for voles, but for the animals which they were intended for. This is a dangerous practice that often brings about many more problems, and without the right modifications to your property, such as sealing holes and making sure that garden debris has been cleared away, the poison and sea of dead rodents will be for nothing. More animals will just keep coming all the time that door is left open.