Have you noticed unsightly trails running through your manicured garden or damaging your plants? If so, it may be those pesky voles. Voles are small rodents, and garden pests that can wreak havoc in your garden, damaging plants, bulbs, and even trees. But fear not. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore effective methods that will help you get rid of voles and protect your garden from their destructive ways.

What is a vole?

Voles are members of the Cricetidae rodent family. They are often confused with mice or moles because of their similar appearance and habitat preferences. However, voles have some characteristics that set them apart.

Voles usually have a stout body, short legs, and short tails. They range in size from 15 to 25 centimeters, depending on the species. Their fur can vary in color, including shades of brown, gray, or black. Voles have small eyes, rounded ears, and sharp incisor teeth for gnawing.

Before taking any action, it is essential to confirm the presence of voles.

Difference between mole and voles

vole in garden

Moles and voles are not the same species damaging the garden. Anatomically they are very different, however, voles are like meadow mice or field mice but the damage to the garden is the same hahaha. So how do we identify what is a vole or a mole? Voles leave a trail on top of the grass, while moles go underneath the soil, leaving little ridges on the surface, which are the feeding tunnels they make.

You know, if you see mounds in the garden, they are moles. If you see footprints or trampled grass, small road style they are voles, damage caused by voles is characterized by gnawed bark at the base of trees or shrubs, as well as by trails or tracks in the grass.

What do voles hate the most?

Voles have certain likes and dislikes when it comes to their habitat and food sources. There are certain steps you can take to make your yard less attractive and get rid of voles. Here are some factors that voles tend to dislike:


The voles dislike physical barriers that prevent them from accessing their preferred food sources or nesting areas. Installing wire mesh or screens around vulnerable plants or creating subway barriers can prevent voles.

Unkempt, open spaces

Voles prefer areas with dense vegetation, where they can hide from predators. Keeping the garden well maintained, with the grass trimmed, brush piles cleared, and open spaces reduces their hiding places and makes the garden less attractive.

Strong odors

Voles have a strong sense of smell and certain strong odors can repel them. Some gardeners have had success using natural repellents such as castor oil or garlic-based sprays around the perimeter of their gardens to deter voles.

Vole repellents

Certain plant species are less attractive to voles due to their natural compounds or taste. Consider incorporating vole-resistant plants such as daffodils, alliums, or imperial plants into your garden. These plants have properties that are unappetizing to voles.


They are prey to various predators, such as owls, hawks, snakes, and some cats. Encouraging natural predators to frequent your yard by providing them with boxes, nesting boxes, perches, or creating a hospitable environment can help keep vole populations in check.

It is important to keep in mind that while these actions can help deter voles, control methods are 100% foolproof.

What is a home remedy to get rid of voles?

While there is no home remedy that guarantees total eradication of voles, there are some natural and DIY control methods you can try to help control their population and deter them from your garden, remember they are sensitive to odors, so take advantage of this sensitivity. Here are some home remedies that have proven effective:

Castor oil

Voles are known to dislike the smell and taste of castor oil. Mix a small amount of castor oil with water in a spray bottle and apply it around the perimeter of the garden, focusing on areas where voles are most active. Reapply after rain or every few weeks to maintain the scent.

Garlic repellent

Create a homemade garlic repellent by mixing several cloves of garlic with water and straining the mixture. Pour the garlic-infused water into a spray bottle and apply it to areas where voles are active. Garlic has a strong odor that voles find unpleasant.

Plant repellent species

Incorporate plants into your garden that voles tend to avoid. Examples include daffodils, alliums, crown imperials, or strong-smelling plants such as lavender, rosemary, or mint. These plants can act as natural deterrents.

Predator urine

Voles are wary of predators. The smell of their urine, like that of cats or foxes, can help rid of voles. You can purchase predator urine at garden stores and apply it around vole activity areas or use it to soak cotton balls strategically placed in the garden.

Are voles bad to have around?

voles and mice

Voles can be considered undesirable in specific contexts, especially when they invade gardens, lawns, or agricultural fields. Although they perform ecological functions in their natural habitats, their presence can cause damage and disturbance in human-managed environments. For example:

Garden damage

Voles eat a variety of plant materials, such as grasses, bulbs, roots, and the bark of trees and shrubs. Their feeding habits can cause significant damage to gardens, flowerbeds, and ornamental plants, resulting in loss of crops or aesthetic appeal.

Reproduction rate

They have a high reproductive capacity, with short gestation periods and multiple litters per year. This can lead to rapid population growth, causing increased vole activity and damage to vegetation if left unchecked.

Disease transmission

Although less common than other rodents, voles can carry diseases such as tularemia or hantavirus. Although the risk of transmission to humans is relatively low, it is advisable to minimize direct contact with voles or their waste.

Competition with the desired species

Voles may compete with other small mammals or wildlife for resources such as food or nesting sites. In certain ecosystems, an overabundance of voles can upset the natural balance and affect native species.

Having voles in the garden is not serious compared to having mice in the house, but it is important to remember that voles are part of the natural ecosystem and play ecological roles as prey for predators such as owls, hawks, and snakes. The balance between the control of vole populations and the conservation of biodiversity is crucial.

Combining several strategies and constantly monitoring your yard for vole activity will increase your chances of getting rid of voles and reducing vole infestation.

How to get rid of voles in your garden? was last modified: September 7th, 2023 by Vanessa Gallanti
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