Can Gophers Damage Artificial Turf & Grass?

gophers and artificial turf

Gophers can cause a lot of damage in your yard and to lawns. Many people will turn to artificial grass as the answer believing it will stop gophers digging up into their backyard. But as with anything related to critters, and answer is never that simple, as artificial turf alone won’t stop them. 

Gophers and artificial turf have a strange relationship. On one hand, installing artificial turf will remove one food source which is grass, but it can also offer gophers a constant supply of bedding material, and end up costing you a lot of money if they burrow beneath it.

Before I go into too much detail though, here’s the short answer:

It is unusual, but not unheard of for Gophers to dig through artificial grass and chew through it to pop up in your fake lawn. But gophers can damage artificial turf by tunnelling under it causing sinkholes and chewing pieces off to use as bedding underground.

If you are going to install artificial grass and have gophers in your neighborhood, it’s important to do it right so you don’t waste huge amounts of money.

Gophers and artificial turf

If you have a consistent gopher problem in your yard and haven’t able to get rid of them, artificial grass could be the answer. It’s not common for gophers to chew through artificial turf and come up through it, but they can still damage it and dig under it, causing sinkholes and dips in the lawn.

Given how much you’re going to invest in an artificial lawn, it’s important to make sure it’s installed and laid properly, otherwise you will still get gopher problems.

Let me explain.

Laying artificial grass is a great way to stop gophers from destroying your yard’s lawn. There’s no guarantee they won’t come back, but you have removed their main source of food which is your lawn.

That means gophers are less inclined to tunnel.

But they still can.

For example, if your neighbor has gopher tunnels in their backyard, those tunnels could stretch to your property and beneath your artificial lawn. One gopher hole in a yard can lead to 200 yards of tunnels which can cover a 2,000 square foot area.

Once those tunnels appear under your artificial turf, it could lead to a collapse, and ugly indentation and dips on the synthetic lawn. It will be very expensive to pull it all up and get the holes filled and repaired.

But that’s not all.

Gophers can damage artificial turf from below as they are known to pull the fake grass shoots down through the lining. It’s then used to line their nests and make them warmer. You can see an example of that in the video below. 

How to stop gophers damaging artificial grass and turf

To stop gophers destroying artificial turf, you need to embark on methodical ground preparation, installation of gopher wire mesh, different layers of substrates and infill products.

Handy Hint: Do not use cheap chicken wire under the ground, it will rust and gophers can chew through it.

By doing so, you dramatically reduce the chance of gophers eating or chewing the artificial turf, as you will be creating a multi-layered barrier guard beneath the artificial grass.

The most important aspect to the project is half-inch thick galvanized wire, known as gopher mesh. It’s designed so gophers cannot chew or pass through it, unlike cheap plastic mesh.

Here’s a diagram from the globalsynturf.com website which shows the multiple layers in action. 

Notice the different layers, and in particular the wire mesh at the bottom. Gophers cannot come up and get to the artificial grass, as the stone compacts and locks into the mesh.

Gophers typically dig tunnels about 18 inches deep. So, if these layers go that deep, gophers are unlikely to destroy artificial turf and will turn back and give up when they hit it.

Do you need gopher wire underneath artificial turf?

In conclusion, yes you do need gopher wire underneath artificial turf. 

Sinkholes can appear under real and synthetic lawns. But with gopher wire in place, they will be discouraged from tunnelling in your yard.

It also means gophers cannot chew artificial turf and use it for bedding as seen in the video further up the page.

However, there is a negative to laying artificial grass to stop gophers digging holes in your lawn. Whilst it removes the main grass diet of gophers, it will also remove other aspects of the backyard’s ecosystem.

You will find that the biodiversity of your yard is dramatically reduced, as you no longer have a material that wildlife can thrive in.

Expect to see less birds, butterflies, and others.

On a positive note, you can fit gopher wire mesh under a real lawn… 

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