Groundhogs can cause extreme damage to your garden and backyard by feeding on plants and digging tunnels all across. So, before a significant part of your vegetation gets completely eaten up, take immediate measures to drive them out and keep them away.
The First Thing to Do Before Getting Rid of Groundhogs
As the burrows of groundhogs have one main entrance and up to four exits, you need to spot them in your backyard. Once you have located the holes, check their activity by filling them with dirt and soil. If groundhogs are inside, they will surely open up the burrows and come out in search of food.
Once you know the points of their entrance and exit, use the following methods to get rid of them.
Ways to Keep Groundhogs out of Your Garden
Home Remedies and Repellents (The Less Effective Methods)
The strong odor of these natural and commercial repellents are supposed to get groundhogs out of their holes and drive them away from your yard. However, bear in mind that these are all temporary solutions as the groundhogs may again return after a short period.
1) Cat Litter: According to a discussion forum, many gardening enthusiasts have found it fairly effective. You have to collect your cat’s litter in a tray and pour it into the holes. If you do not have a cat at home, buy a commercial litter.
2) Human Urine: Some gardeners have been able to repel woodchucks in a humane way with this one.
3) Fox Urine: It is less likely to work, but you can give it a try.
4) Mothballs and Ammonia: Despite being claimed as effective, mothballs and ammonia might not be useful in keeping woodchucks away. If you apply these in one of the holes, they manage to dig a new tunnel and escape from the other end.
5) Garlic, Castor Oil, and Cayenne Pepper: These natural home remedies might not work too well for completely getting rid of the critters.
6) Groundhog-Repellent Plants: Plans like fennel, butterfly weed, lavender, and daffodil could naturally deter groundhogs from entering your vegetable garden and flower beds. However, you would need to try these plants in your garden and see for yourself.
7) Liquid Repellent Spray: Although several commercial sprays are available online, none of them have received positive reviews from the users.
8) Bubblegum: Flavored bubblegum, when swallowed by a groundhog, is believed to clog their digestive system and kill them. Drop few juicy fruit gums inside the burrows and observe after a couple of days if there is any change in their activity.
Trapping and Fencing to Keep Groundhogs Away (Moderately Effective Methods)
1) Live Trap
Live trapping is a practical way of getting rid of groundhogs without killing them.
A single-door trap is easier to bait, and as the back end remains closed the groundhog cannot escape once inside. On the other hand, a double-door trap makes the groundhogs more confident to enter it from either side as they can see through to the other end, allowing a better catch.
Place cantaloupe, sweet corn, peas, cabbage, or anything groundhogs like to eat, as bait on either side of the trigger plate of the trap and keep it near the entrance of their burrow. Once trapped, release them far away from your property.
2) Lethal Trap
A conibear trap is effective in eliminating a groundhog by shutting close around its neck and killing it instantly.
NOTE: Check with your State’s law whether it is legal to trap and kill rodents before implementing this trap.
Use solid wire mesh to install a fence around your backyard about 3 feet above the ground and 1 foot below the soil surface to prevent woodchucks from jumping across or digging under. As an additional measure, bend the top of the fence outward to discourage those pesky rodents from climbing over and above it.
The method is more suitable for those having a large garden or yard since it takes a lot of time and labor, being quite costly as well.
The Most Effective Way to Eliminate Groundhogs from Your Backyard
1) Gas cartridges: This is recommended only if you have found multiple holes in your property, as you will need to trap the groundhogs by covering all the active burrows with dirt, leaving only one open. Light the cartridges and drop them into the one remaining entrance hole and seal it with soil. Poisonous gases like carbon monoxide released by them will suffocate and kill the groundhogs inside when they have no other way to come out.
Note: If the animals have any exit hole outside of your garden, or in some inaccessible place, they may still get out. However, there is a good chance that they might not come back, at least for some time.
Proper Maintenance of Your Garden and Yard to Control Groundhogs
It is important to keep your garden clean by removing debris, wood piles, dry leaves, and rocks from the ground as woodchucks prefer covered regions for digging holes. Also, trim your lawn, and leaves of plants touching the ground from time to time for the same reason. This way your yard would be less attractive to them to find food and shelter.