Pest Away Tips

5 Ways to Protect Your Septic System from Gophers

Septic tank systems are an essential part of maintaining public health and protecting the environment from harmful wastewater. Meanwhile, gophers can cause serious damage to a lawn and garden by digging underground tunnels and creating unsightly burrows.

But, is it possible for gophers to damage a septic tank? In this article, we will investigate the potential impact that gophers can have on a septic system and provide preventative measures to protect your septic tank.

What is a Septic Tank System? A septic tank system is a self-contained wastewater treatment system that is commonly used in rural areas where public sewer systems are not accessible.

Septic tanks are typically made of fiberglass, concrete, or plastic. They are installed underground in the backyard of a home and are connected to the plumbing system of the house.

A septic system is composed of three layers; the scum layer, the liquid layer, and the sludge layer.

Gophers and Septic Tank Systems

Gophers are rodents that are known for their burrowing habits. They create underground tunnels that can span several feet in length.

These tunnels allow gophers to travel from one location to another while avoiding predators on the surface. Unfortunately, gophers’ burrowing activities can cause damage to not only the lawn but also the underground components of a septic tank system.

Burrowing Activities

Gophers’ underground tunnels can potentially cause damage to septic tanks by tunnelling directly underneath the structure. Their burrowing can cause the soil to shift and weaken the septic tank’s foundation, which can result in the septic tank sinking or collapsing.

In addition, the soil and debris that falls into the tunnels can clog pipes that lead to the septic tank.

Septic System Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is the best way to protect your septic tank system from damage caused by gophers. Here are a few steps to help reduce the risk of gophers’ burrowing activities:


Keep the Grass Short – Gophers prefer tall grass and will avoid areas with short grass. Mowing the lawn regularly helps to deter gophers.

2. Install Fencing – Fencing can be installed around the perimeter of your yard to prevent gophers from entering the area.

3. Use Traps – Traps are an effective way of capturing gophers.

However, they must be checked regularly to avoid the inhumane treatment of animals. 4.

Use Repellents – Repellents that contain castor oil or capsaicin can be used to prevent gophers from entering your yard. These products can be found at most hardware stores.


Gophers may seem like harmless creatures, but they can cause serious damage to a septic tank system if left unchecked. By taking the necessary precautions, you can avoid costly repairs and ensure that your septic system remains in optimal condition.

Regular maintenance and a watchful eye can go a long way in protecting your septic tank system from damage caused by gophers’ burrowing activities. Follow the tips we’ve provided, and you’ll be sure to enjoy a well-maintained septic system while keeping these furry creatures at bay.

3) Gophers Burrow in Your Backyard

Gophers, also known as pocket gophers, are burrowing rodents that are famous for the extensive systems of underground tunnels, commonly called gopher tunnels, they build. These tunnels are typically made up of a series of chambers with distinct functions.

The first is the nesting chamber, where the gophers reside, store their food, and give birth to their young. The second is the feeding chamber, where they eat roots and plants.

The final chamber is used for storing excess soil. Burrowing rodents, such as gophers, spend most of their lives below ground.

They use their tunnels to find shelter, food, and darkness. As a result, gophers are known to be expert diggers and can construct tunnels up to 200 meters in length.

Their burrowing activities can cause problems for homeowners and, in some cases, can result in damage to septic tank systems.

4) How Gophers Cause Septic Tank Damage

Gophers are known to cause damage to septic tank systems in several ways. Here are a few examples:

Digging Holes in Leach Field

Septic tank systems rely on the leach field, which is a crucial component that helps distribute the wastewater from the septic tank into the soil. If gophers burrow in the leach field, it can disrupt its adjustment and stability.

The tunnels can cause the leach field to collapse and, ultimately, cause the wastewater to back up into the septic tank. This can result in a costly repair bill for homeowners.

Direct Damage to Pipes

Gophers burrowing underground can also cause physical damage to septic pipes. As gophers construct their tunnels and excavate soil, they can dislodge pipes, causing clogging and leakage.

Over time, rusty pipes may also form, giving more opportunity for water and debris to penetrate the pipes, causing further leakage. This results in a polluted environment that can be dangerous to public health and wildlife.

Burrowing Disrupts Wastewater Flow

If gophers’ tunnels connected to the septic system cause sinkholes to form, wastewater can escape in undesirable places. For instance, if the burrowing disrupts the wastewater flow in the drain field, sewage may surface, resulting in hazardous conditions.

This can cause clogging and damage, resulting in an unpleasant environment that is both unhygienic and expensive to fix.

Foundation Damage to Septic System

Septic systems rely on the foundation to maintain stability. Gophers burrowing and building tunnels under the foundation can cause soil compression, affecting the stability of the septic system’s foundation.

This can lead to damage, potentially destroying the entire septic system. If an entire septic system needs to be replaced, it can cost homeowners thousands of dollars.


In conclusion, gophers may be small and cute, but their burrowing activity can cause significant damage to a septic tank system. Homeowners could invest in gopher repellents to help prevent gophers from burrowing in the first place.

Suppose there are suspicions that gophers may have already caused damage to the septic tank system. In that case, it is essential to call in a professional to investigate the extent of the damage and recommend appropriate repairs.

By taking preventative measures against gophers’ burrowing activity, homeowners can ensure their septic tank system remains in optimal condition for years to come.

5) How to Prevent Gophers from Damaging Your Septic and Leach Field

Gophers can cause significant damage to septic tank systems and ruin a homeowner’s backyard in the process. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent gophers from burrowing and causing damage to your septic and leach field.

Here are some preventative measures to consider:

Set Up a Fence

A fence barrier is an effective method to deter gophers from entering your yard. Gophers can quickly dig underground to enter your yard, so it is essential to select fencing that can prevent burrowing while allowing airflow.

Galvanized wire fences are a popular choice for gopher prevention and rust prevention. Galvanized wires last longer, resist wear and tear, and will not be easily broken down by inclement weathers.

The fence should be at least 2-3 feet deep into the ground to prevent gophers from digging underneath.

Plant Weeds Around Fence

A natural gopher repellent that you can use is weed maintenance around the fence. Weeds like dandelions and thistles can discourage gophers from entering the area since they find these plants unattractive.

Planting thorny or spiky bushes around the fence, like cacti and prickly pear, could also provide a natural fence for your yard, which gophers dislike.

Use Natural Gopher Repellents

Incorporating natural gopher repellents into your garden can be an effective prevention method. Gophers have a strong sense of smell, and scents like lavender, rosemary, marigolds, and catmint are natural gopher repellents.

Planting these fragrant herbs at the entryway where gophers have been sighted can help deter them from entering your yard. Repellents, however, may require some time to get into full effect.

Avoid Planting on Top of Septic System

Planting near a septic system or drain field can cause problems because the root systems of plants can significantly interfere with the wastewater flow. This can cause the pipes to clog, resulting in expensive repairs.

Planting above a septic system can create soil compaction that can compress the foundation. So, it’s best to steer clear of laying down deep root systems around and on top of sewer pipes and the septic system.

Close Gopher Holes Behind Them

Gophers prefer digging through soft soil, and their underground pathways can provide a hotspot for them to move around and access other underground tunnels. A way to discourage gopher burrowing on your property is to close their holes behind them using natural repellents like garlic, vinegar, and castor oil.

The smell of these substances will discourage gophers from returning to recently disrupted tunnels. A good suggestion for pet owners is to employ the services of their furry friends trained to pinpoint these underground burrows so that they can be easily located.


In conclusion, gophers can cause significant damage to a septic tank system and ruin a homeowner’s yard in the process. However, by taking preventative measures like setting up a fence, planting gopher repellents, and avoiding planting on top of the septic system, homeowners can prevent gopher burrows and have a healthier and more beautiful yard.

While homeowners can try several DIY gopher prevention methods, it’s best to contact a professional when dealing with a significant gopher infestation. These professionals have the experience, equipment, and expertise to address the issue effectively.

In summary, preventing gophers from damaging your septic tank system and ruining your yard can seem like an intimidating challenge. Still, homeowners can take practical and straightforward steps to prevent gopher burrowing.

Setting up a fence, planting natural gopher repellents, avoiding planting on top of the septic system, removing weeds, and closing gopher holes behind them are all effective preventative measures. By following these preventative measures, homeowners can ensure that their septic tank system remains in optimal condition and maintain a healthy, beautiful yard free from gophers.

Taking action early can save homeowners money by avoiding costly repairs and maintaining the long-term health of their septic tank system and yard.

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