When it comes to the yard, garden, and farm pests, the most troublesome type are definitely the burrowers. As far as burrowers are concerned, I am inclined to say that groundhogs are the worst. Also called as woodchuck, land beaver, or whistle pig, these burrowing rodents can really wreak havoc all over your garden or yard.
The Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day” might have endeared you to these burrowers. Murray’s character, Phil, shows contempt for these little creatures, and for good reason! There’s really nothing cute about these animals. This is especially true once they have laid waste to your yard or garden.
For this post, we’ll discuss some tips and tricks on how to get rid of groundhogs. We’ll cover both lethal and non-lethal options.
7 Tips and Tricks on Getting Rid of Groundhogs
1. Eliminate Attractants
Groundhogs come to a yard or garden because they think it’s a good place to find food and it provides a safe haven. If you don’t want groundhogs coming into your space, see to it that you make it less attractive to these burrowing pests.
Here are some of the known groundhog attractants:
- Beans, peas, and melons are some of a groundhog’s favorite food. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you harvest these crops as soon as possible.
- Groundhogs tend to burrow in places that provide sufficient cover. Remove piles of debris, rocks and/or wood which can be used by groundhogs for shelter.
- Make it a habit to trim back plants that groundhogs may eat or use for cover.
- Tree trunks and other pieces of wood are very attractive to groundhogs since they can gnaw and grind their teeth on them.
- If there are animal burrows in your yard, fill it with gravel.
2. Use Castor Oil Mixture
Over time, many homeowners have found out that using castor oil as a natural repellent have yielded good results.
True enough, even gardeners and some professionals swear by castor oil for getting rid of burrowers such as groundhogs. Even the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources lists castor oil as one of the most effective ways for groundhog control.
To deter groundhogs using castor oil, create a mixture of 1/2 cup castor oil and 2 cups of water. Put the mixture in garden hose sprayer attachment and spray it into areas where you don’t want groundhogs to stay. Apply the spray every two to three weeks and after rain.
If you want an even more potent castor oil recipe, mix 1 cup of castor oil, 2 cups of oil soap and 1 1/4 cups of hot sauce.
3. Drive Them Away with Offensive Scents
There are certain smells that groundhogs just absolutely detest. Having these smells near their burrows and around the space will send these creatures packing.
Some of the well-known offensive scents for groundhogs include:
- Garlic – The pungent smell of garlic is too much for groundhogs. Take a couple of garlic cloves and crush them. Then, spread the paste in areas where you don’t want groundhogs to hang about.
- Lavender – This plant has many different uses but who would have thought that it’s actually a good deterrent for groundhogs? Lavender has a lovely smell for us but groundhogs find it very offensive. Plant lavender plants around your garden to keep them away.
- Cayenne pepper – This pepper is best known for its bite but it’s also an effective groundhog deterrent due to the smell and heat. Simply pour cayenne pepper around the holes and you’re good. It’s also a good idea to spray plants with a mixture of 2 teaspoons cayenne with 1-quart water to deter the animal from nibbling.
4. Set Live Traps
Using traps is one of the most humane ways to deal with a groundhog problem. Once you have them trapped, you can release them somewhere far away. The best groundhog trap is perhaps the basic box-type cage trap. For your bait, you can use most fruits, but groundhogs especially love cantaloupes. Rub the inside and outside of the trap with cantaloupe and put a few pieces of the fruit inside.
Groundhogs are very cautious creatures, so here are some tips for a successful trapping:
- Use gloves when handing otherwise you will transfer your scent into the trap which is not ideal.
- Place your bait in a way that forces the creature to fully enter it. This ensures that the groundhog can’t simply back out once the door comes down.
- Make sure that your trap is stable and secure by putting a heavy object (like a brick) on top. If the trap is not stable, the groundhog can simply roll over and escape.
- Make the trap more inviting by camouflaging it with leaves. This will encourage the creatures to comfortably enter the trap.
5. Smoke Them Out
Fumigation is a good lethal solution if you want something more effective. The easiest way is to purchase gas bombs or cartridges. They are usually available at garden centers or your favorite online shops.
Before proceeding with the fumigation, you have to be absolutely sure that the groundhog is inside the hole. Once you are sure, cover all the tunnel entrances but one. Then, light the gas cartridge and throw it inside the open hole entrance. Quickly fill up the hole with dirt to trap the creature along with the carbon monoxide.
Alternatively, you can run a hose from your car’s exhaust and release the fumes into the tunnel. Both of these methods work fairly well in killing the groundhog or at worst, will send him packing.
6. Pour Ammonia Down the Hole
Using ammonia as a deterrent is actually my favorite method of dealing with groundhogs.
Once you have poured ammonia down a tunnel, the groundhog will instantly stop using it. When I was using this technique, my groundhog problem just stopped. When using ammonia, make sure that you plug all the holes since there are surely many of them. For this method to work, you need to apply the ammonia over several days which will drive them away for good.
To make an ammonia solution, mix 3 parts water with 1-part ammonia. Add a squirt of dishwashing detergent for good measure. Pour the solution down the groundhog holes. For a more potent mixture and you really hate the bugger, add castor oil and cayenne pepper to the solution.
7. Install a Fence
Installing a fence in your yard is a great way to keep the pesky borrowers out. Of course, this is only applicable if you are sure that there are no more groundhogs in your space. While groundhogs are skilled climbers, a properly installed fence will do a good job of keeping them out.
When building a fence, here are some guidelines that you should know:
- The fence should be at least be 3-4 feet above ground level.
- Purchase a strong wire fence that has an opening that’s no larger than 3×3 inches.
- The fence should penetrate the ground at least a foot so the burrowers won’t simply dig underneath it. A good tip is to create an “L” shape underground.
- Groundhogs can be quite determined so make sure that you add an outward angle at the top of the fence.
- Spray the fence with deterrents that we have mentioned above to discourage future groundhogs from moving in.
Deal with Your Groundhog Problem
That wraps up our guide on how to get rid of groundhogs from your space.
Many of these methods are very simple and can be done using common household items. Just make sure that you research properly before employing a certain pest control method.
If you are quite unsure that you can carry out the solution properly, there’s always the option of hiring a professional pest control company. However, we still recommend that you try out the above solutions first before seeking professional help.
Have you dealt with the groundhog problem before? Which control methods do you swear by? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
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