Moles and Above Ground Pools

Moles and Above Ground Pools

About ninety-nine percent of all above ground swimming pools are built directly on the earth. So, guess what… The earth is home to all kinds of critters and bugs. Most of these things living in your backyard won’t affect an above ground’s bottom, but some will. And, if I made a list of the peskiest critters affecting above grounds, moles would be at the top.

I haven’t seen moles damage liners much to the point of needing replacement, but I have seen them cause extensive damage to a nice smooth above ground pool bottom.  Getting rid of them is almost impossible and preventing them from burrowing under the pool’s liner is really difficult too. I get many people with existing pools ask about how to stop moles and my short answer is that I don’t know. I do know some things about moles that may help, so read on if you’re having issues with moles.

What’s a Mole?

how does a ground mole ruin an above ground pool?

A mole is a little animal that lives just under the surface of the earth. They are the size of a small mouse, always have dark fur, and look like a mouse with deformed feet and a weird nose. When I say they live “just under”, I mean just a few inches. This is a problem for above grounds, because when moles move around they make a tunnel just under the earth’s surface that displaces it. By the way, this is not good for that smooth pool bottom I just made.

Moles aren’t social creatures, but their territories can overlap resulting in a backyard having more than one. They move around a fair amount, so it only takes one or two to make pretty good ruts in a pool’s bottom.

Some ask me if they have moles. You can’t always tell if you have them, but if you go outside in the morning and see a trail ofslightly elevated earth, then that’s amole trail.

cats keep away moles
Inyo’s unofficial Mascot, Bigguns is a born hunter…

Often there will be no evidence of moles, but you’ll have them. Often they are living in yards with above ground pools and never go under them. No issues there.

Getting Rid of Moles

This is not my field of expertise, but I have heard some things. I’m sure there’s a master mole exterminator somewhere that knows how to kill them or some kind of “mole whisperer” that can talk to them and train them not to travel under a pool, but as an observant pool installer, I can only tell you this:

Get a Cat!

Get a young cat, don’t feed him much, and make sure he lives mostly outside. Young cats love to find and kill moles (well, maybe not kill, but play with them until they stop

moving, forever). It’s kind of cool when you go out in the morning to get the paper and the cat has left you a dead mole by the front door. All right, so nobody gets the paper anymore, but you’ll eventually go outside and find your cat’s gift  – the dead mole.

To me, cats are the best way to control the mole population, but there are some chemicals available that supposedly get rid of them too. I’ve heard homeowners resort to poisoning food, gassing, and setting traps to get rid of their moles. However, most have admitted to having little success. Please don’t let me discourage you, though, as I’m not an exterminator.

How Do I Stop Them From Damaging my Pool Bottom?

how to rid your pool of moles?
Go dig somewhere else.

OK, so if I can’t get rid of moles, how do I stop them from causing damage? Damage caused by moles to an above ground pool’s bottom can be extreme, but usually it’s just some annoying ruts that make it harder to keep the pool clean. In almost all cases, this type of damage is only corrected when the pool liner gets changed. This is usually years down the road, but since the old liner has to come out, it’s a good time to think about how to stop moles from continuing to damage the pool bottom. Here are a couple of things people have done. Some things will work for sure and some won’t. I’ll list them from the least expensive to the most expensive.

I. Install a Liner Guard or Gorilla Pad

above ground pool liner pguard
Example of Liner Pad.

These pads won’t at all deter the moles from tunneling under the pool and won’t stop the ruts they make. A liner guard will prevent the ruts from causing any damage to the liner, because the pad will always be positioned between the liner and anything potentially sharp in the earth.

II. Installing rigid foam sheeting on the entire floor of the pool

Again this won’t stop the moles from going under the pool. You just won’t see or feel the tunnels, because they’ll be under the foam boarding. The more expensive, thicker and more rigid foam sheets have to be used for this. Less dense and thinner foam will eventually thin and contour the ruts created below. Cut these rigid foam boards to fit and seam them tightly together using duct tape.

III. Install a mole wall around the perimeter of the pool

Moles travel below the ground so when I say “wall” I mean a wall under the surface. I have seen homeowners use continuous rigid plastic sheeting that is about one foot wide and bury it all the way around their pools. No one knows how deep a mole will travel, but going one foot down seems to do the trick. NOTE: A customer of mine used 1”x6” pressure treated wood and buried it all the way around their pool and still had mole intrusions. 

IV. Pouring concretepour concrete to deter moles

This is by far the best way to solve this and any other problem with an earth bottom, but it is super expensive. If your mole issue is so bad that you are going to make a concrete floor for your above ground, then good for you as the problem will be solved. You may need to put in some OT at work to pay for it, though.

When making a concrete bottom for an existing above ground, don’t pour too close to the wall. Leave at least a gap of a couple inches all the way around and use foam coving. Also, you’ll need to purchase a liner guard to go between the concrete and the liner.

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47 thoughts on “Moles and Above Ground Pools

  1. I always have success by throwing a little mole repellant around with my weed and feed in the spring. But what really gets rid of them is using grub killer. Moles eat grub. Remove the food supply, remove the critter….

    1. I have my lawn treated professionally every year with grub killer and still have moles because moles also eat earth worms. Earth worms are great because they create healthy soil BUT they create a smorgasbord for moles. Traps and poison haven’t worked for me either. I end up hunting them myself (watch for movement in lawn) and jab them with a shovel or homemade pitchfork. Sounds funny but I’ve gotten rid of a lot that way. Only problem is it’s time consuming…frantically looking for something that works faster and easier

    2. Thank you. I have lost three pool liners and I do have an over abundance of earthworms. It is getting very expensive. I don’t want to give up my pool but I’m almost at that point. I will try this.

      1. I’m having the same problem and This is what I’m getting ready to try. I’m gonna dig a treanch all the way around and put this in ground.. Amerimax 6 in. W X 10 ft. L Aluminum Valley Flashing Silver. It comes in 50 foot rolls also.

    3. I totally agree with Mark. I use Triazicide as a grub killer and it eliminated a massive issue with moles and raccoons, which can be just as destructive to a lawn. Not sure about ground squirrels.

  2. Try pouring ammonia in the tunnels in the yard. Seems to run them off some. I kept watching the yard cats peeing on the tunnels and they seemed to move on. I tried the Juicy Fruit gum with limited success.

    1. I have used ammonia and bleach in the tunnels. It makes chlorine gas, so don’t inhale it. Not sure how well it helped, but it didn’t last. Grub killer. That’s your solution. No food, no moles.

      1. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but… Don’t intentionally make chlorine gas, ever. Using that on an animal is unusually cruel, especially since the animal’s only offense, in this case, is making its home in the “wrong place.” There is a reason it’s prohibited in the Geneva Protocol.

  3. A great option is to dig a 1 foot deep trench About 1 foot away from around the outside Of the pool and fill it with gravel. This seems to work well for everyone with pools in our area.

  4. We live in North Central Texas and our area has a lot of moles. My question is: at about this same time of year (May-June) we find two or three moles moles in our gunite in the ground pool. The have to go several feet above ground and across the deck to get there and then fall in. They drown and we find them in the skimmers. Does anyone know why this happens? It seems odd to us for a subterranean critter. We just hate finding these little guys like this.

  5. I am going to try 19 gauge wire fencing—hardware cloth–it has 1/2 inch squares comes on a roll i will first put down a plastic tarp on the dirt then add the wire mesh fence on top of tarpe like a big blanket covering the entire pool bottom. Then put a plastic tarp on top of metal mesh screen then two inches of sand –the normal pool sand bottom and then one more plastic tarp..the metal 19 gauge wire i hope will do it oh i think

  6. I’m considering using a 3″ diameter x 48″ long piece of PVC pipe… with a smooth PVC cap on each end… and then using a 5lb sledge hammer to move along and gently tamp the mole ridge back down flat.

    Do you think that this might perforate the liner in any way… causing a leak?

    I thought the 3″ diameter smooth PVC cap would be more than wide enough to cover the width of the trail.

    1. To follow on my post on July 25th, 2018 @ 9:33am

      Well… I bit the bullet and tried my plan to smooth out the Mole trails in the bottom of my above ground pool.
      It took a while to do it… because I was slow and methodical… but I had good results.

      (Just fyi…. we have a 24′ round above ground pool.)

      It didn’t perforate the liner… and I was able to flatten the ridges that the mole created from it’s burrowing under the liner.

      So…. if anyone else tries this… make sure that the PVC cap is the type that is shaped like a dome and smooth on the surface. I had to use 5 taps of the hammer to get the best results on flattening the ridges.

      To build the PVC tube… I glued the cap on one end of the pipe with PVC glue.
      The other end I left the cap loose…. so that I could fill the tube with water, so that the
      tube wouldn’t float while performing the task.

      Also… fyi…. my liner is about 18 years old… but it doesn’t seem to brittle. If your liner is old
      and brittle…. proceed at your own risk… as this could crack your liner.

      So that’s it…. no more ridges under our feet while walking laps in our pool. 🙂

    2. I think what want to do is good but the ridges moles make are a displacement of earth which means you’ll have ruts. You can’t do much about the ruts with a full pool but you can tap down the ridges. I would consider not doing it if you liner is older. Older liners can get brittle and tapping the ridges could cause tears.

      1. We have lots of gophers. A friend who had them digging under his liner said that when he replaced the liner he did “soil cement” treatment under the pool and has had no more problems.

        Soil cement is pretty easy if done when preparing the area for the pool, but my question is, is there any issues with having this fair hard surface under a pool? I will be installing a good pad under the pool. Is there any other reason to not go with soil cement?

        1. Sorry. I have never heard the term “soil cement”. I’m assuming that you mix cement in with the soil to make it hard. If so, you’ll have to add enough cement in order for the gophers to burrow underneath and the hardened soil mix not collapse. Clay may be a cheaper option.

      2. Hi My liner is 2 yrs old and when i went to open saw about 5lbs of sand under my DE filter but could not see a hole under the pool. I had 10 inches of water in the pool as I was getting all new water from a delivery. When the 10,000-20,000 glas of warter hit the pool it created a tunnel in the liner about the size of a baseball glove and is now leaking. Is there a way to get the sand back underneath the liner where the Mole had thrown it out now that the water is 3/4 full in the pool? UGGGHHHH

  7. Everyone is talking about moles but I think that some of you have gophers. The difference between the two is that moles live in, and tunnel just below the surface. Their tunnels are viable because of the slightly raised ground. Their dirt pushed out makes small piles of dirt, just a few inches round. If you step on their tunnels it feels like there is air just below the lawn. Gophers are the big culprits. They dig their tunnels deep and make mounds of dirt that are upwards of 6 to 12 inches. You won’t see or feel their tunnels. They are easily killed by sticking the hose down one tunnel and waiting by the other hole with a shovel or pitch fork….whack and done. Personally I think it’s more fun to go out just before first light, sit quietly in a lawn chair with a small type rifle or even a kids pellet gun. They will phish up another mound and you just shoot the little buggers . What’s great is that they fall back into the hole burying themself.
    Either one can ruin your above ground pools liner so I think I’m going to try some sort of sheet metal or heavy wire 6 inches down and then put sand and finally foam sheeting. Don’t know if it will work but I’m hoping.

  8. There’s only one sure way to get the mole set and wait till you see them raise the ground then take a shovel and dig him out and whack the hell out of him. Problem solved…and it’s fun

  9. Jerry Butler the garden guy on PBS has addressed moles in these two “natural” ways. To drive them off place human hair in the tunnel(s); to kill them place a stick of unwrapped, un-chewed Juicy Fruit gum in the tunnel(s) as this will plug them up when they eat it.

    I have had an above ground pool for thirty years and just experienced my first mole damage in the liner. It happened just after I closed it and it has been seeping all winter. The brand new cover was in danger of tearing from the weight of the rain/snow/ice water on it as the supporting pool water disappeared. I have pumped water from the top of the cover into the pool to reduce strain on the cover and walls. I will not ignore moles again.

    1. My husband tried the juicy fruit gum trick. Everyone laughed at him. Joke is on them, we got rid of the moles!!!

    1. If you have rats under your above ground pool, then following directions for applying rat killer should work. I don’t think they are rats though(but you never know). More than likely they are moles.

  10. I have used plastic carpet runners (they are used for rolling chairs in offices, some people have them in their cube farms) to make 3 foot deep in ground container gardens for invasive herbs. They are flexible enough to bend into curves, but firm enough to wedge into the ground. It may help to create an underground fence for moles? Not sure…but it helps to keep traveling grass out of garden beds.

  11. Where would be best place to buy rigid foam sheeting? We live in Tulsa & dealing with mole issue last few yrs. Would like to try sheeting because cost of concrete. Finding someone to do it here will be difficult.

  12. We have had an above ground pool for years, on the third liner now, abound pool between pool and walk way, there is a 5 inch separator with decor stone. I noticed the mole hole, upset gave him full strength bleach today down the hole. Tomorrow will dig up this area and pour some cement smooth mixture down to bottom of wall and back up. Will keep you posted to the outcome, or should a garden hose and put it into the hole and flood him out?

  13. Hi we bought a used older pool all the top resin is broken on it my husband is wanting to make the top outer rails at his work from a strong metal the use for commercial guttering do u suggest this

    1. We only suggest replacing above ground pool parts with OEM parts. Fabricating and installing your parts could hamper the structural integrity of the pool. If you need help finding parts, please email a picture of your wall pattern, upright, top cap and top rail to We’ll try to track down the make and model of your pool to determine if we carry parts.

    2. If ur husband says he can do it then he can do it have faith in ur man lol no but for real yeap it’ll work fine

  14. Inice reading. I have an in ground pool so like u said “no problem”. But I have moles every yr and I can’t stand what they do to my nice Bermuda lawn. I have googled everything that can be found on getting rid of moles and the basic conclusion is you can’t. The pros say consider them yard aerators.

    1. I went to Lowe’s and bought a product made by tomcat, the poison worms. Worked for me but only after the moles had made tunnels under my pool.

      1. I have a small section of my pool with a mole run in it. I’d like to get a robotic vacuum. Do you know the likelihood of it getting stuck in this area?

      2. I bought the Tomcat mole trap, it’s a beast.

        10 bucks and unlimited use.

        Caught 2 moles in 48 hrs, haven’t seen shyt since.

        Humane? Well, in my experience, it basically snaps their neck/back…. wherever it hits with no blood. Think of someone cracking your neck and you collapse.👍
        Fast, easy and……. and I suppose yep… Humane. 😒

        …..with the issues they cause if you don’t like this then oh well, try talking them out…. Invite them to dinner and tell them to live on the other side of your yard away from your pool and if so…. you’ll give them music and grubs to eat everyday….. FCUK moles and being humane!!!!

        Buy the trap!

        It works!


    2. We have an in ground pool and we had holes around the landscape(stone) and we don’t know if its moles( we have them in the yard) or jimmy squirrels. Anyone have a problem with animals under your in ground pool? I just don’t know how much damage they are going to do. We have tried pouring bleach in the holes, smoking them out and nothing!

    3. You have to eliminate the food source (grubs) look into getting some milky spore power. I have a grub free lawn. JohnB

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