How to Keep Groundhogs out of your Garden
Groundhogs are a constant nuisance here at my house. They dig holes all over my property, and occasionally even venture into my zone 1 garden to eat the really good stuff I have growing. Two years ago a groundhog tunneled under my fence, and came up to the surface through the gravel floor inside my shed which is in the middle of my zone 1 garden. It looked around a bit and then dug another tunnel to get outside of my shed and into the groundhog paradise of my zone 1 garden. It then proceeded to eat all my young lettuce and carrots. I tried quite a few different techniques to remedy the situation, but in the end only one solution worked really well.
1. I added some repellant, which is mostly dried blood to the hole, filled it back in, and placed a large rock on top. The groundhog simply dug through the repellant, and squeezed under the rock.
2. I tried peeing in the hole, thinking that the human urine smell would deter the groundhog. Nope, it didn’t care about that either.
3. I have a fence with wire that does go beneath the surface, but groundhogs can tunnel well beneath my wire. They can also scale fences 3 feet or shorter. I do think a good fence deters most groundhogs though, but you still may get a few.
4. I tried a .22 caliber bolt action rifle, and that worked for awhile. Over time the groundhogs that lived were smart enough to stay away from me and were smarter about listening for sounds that signaled danger. In one instance, a groundhog was chowing down on clover in my new food forest, just outside my side window. I slowly edged the window open, and he bolted. In the past, they would have let me take the easy shot.
5. With the new and improved crafty groundhogs, I decided to switch tactics again and try trapping them. My biggest concern with trapping is that I'd catch something I didn't want to like a skunk. I purchased a Havahart live trap, and set it up next to the hole they dug in my Zone 1 garden. I placed some straw in the bottom of the trap and some cantaloupe as bait. After a week, nothing. So, I figured maybe the hole wasn't active. I filled the hole in and moved the trap to another hole on the edge of my stoop. The trap was now mostly covered my large boxwood shrubs.
This guy was pushing 10 pounds
After a few days, I caught something. I looked inside and it was an opossum. The poor thing shook cowering in the corner. I opened the trap door and walked away, and it was gone when I came back. I've seen skunks at my house before, so I decided to set the trap every morning and trip it in the evening so it doesn't accidentally catch a night creature.
After four more days, nothing. So I covered up the hole and moved the trap next to my fence, where the gorundhogs had been tunneling under. Again I baited with cantaloupe and added straw. The trap was nicely hidden by large comfrey plants. Two days later, bam, I had a groundhog. I disposed of the animal with a single shot to the back of the head. I have heard of others simply taking the trap and dumping it into a trash can filled with water. I hate groundhogs, but that is really cruel in my opinion. Why make them suffer if you don't have to? I caught two more after that and sealed up the opening under my fence. I haven't seen a groundhog since, but I'm sure they'll be back. I would prefer not to kill them at all, but the damage to the foundation of my house and greenhouse, not to mention my crops is too much to let go.
Havahart Groundhog Trap
Look at the teeth!