How to Get Rid of Groundhogs – Groundhog Eating Garden

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Pretty much every year, we find a groundhog in my yard. It’s pretty irritating, actually, to deal with this groundhog eating garden plants when you’re just trying to grow something, for crying out loud. I need to figure out how to get rid of groundhogs stat.

The big ole groundhog garden pest is one of the most frustrating gardening adversaries I’ve run across.

Have you ever dealt with a groundhog eating garden crops and flowers? The one year we had THREE!

Three young groundhogs on deck and hot tub in backyard in 2013
Three young groundhogs on our deck and hot tub in the backyard in 2013.

Our resident (evil) groundhog ate all our brassicas in 2020. We didn’t even get a chance to try broccoli, cauliflower, kale, or Brussels sprouts. The groundhog ate them all!

How do I know, you might ask? Well, I’d planted that garden right outside my kitchen window. So, every time I washed dishes, I could look out and see the pure devastation in action.

He’s also devoured sunflowers, zinnias, lilies (which I thought were supposed to be poisonous?!), dahlias, TULIPS! (oh, the tulips!), and so many other plants I’ve forgotten to mourn by now.

I’ve definitely started to hate the groundhog.

But It’s a CUTE Groundhog!

Y’all. My kids actually named the groundhog. They LIKE the groundhog.

I mean, come on. This is not good.

They named the groundhog… wait for it… Grounnie. (Not sure about spelling, but they say it like “Brownie” with a G.)

I mean, he’s kind of a cute groundhog, in the most vile, evil, I’m-going-to-devour-this-entire-schmorgasbord-of-your-precious-beloved-garden kind of way…

But he doesn’t pay the grocery bill and he certainly isn’t helping with the gardening.

He raises my stress level and he’s got to go.

It is hard when they are young and cute, though.

Young Groundhog Stealing Plants and Eating Garden Crops in 2021
“How nice of you to lay out this smorgasbord for me! Hmm, what should I eat first?” Young Groundhog Stealing Plants and Eating Garden Crops in 2021

This one may not be a newborn groundhog exactly, but it’s definitely a young one (from a few years back).

Is a groundhog dangerous?

Groundhogs are wild animals that answer to no one. Most of the time, they prefer to run away rather than get into an up-close-and-personal altercation. That being said, you should still keep your children, pets, and self away from groundhogs. They have very sharp teeth and claws to defend themselves if feeling threatened.

Are woodchucks and groundhogs the same animal?

Yes, woodchucks and groundhogs are the same creature. In fact, groundhog, woodchuck, whistle pig, and land beaver are other names commonly used for this garden pest. The groundhog’s scientific name is Marmota monax, which means it is a type of marmot (part of the Sciuridae family). Marmots are considered ground squirrels.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A woodchuck would not chuck any wood, even if he could, as instead he would prefer to chomp his way through your garden, eating up whatever crops that he could chomp. The only solution is to get rid of the woodchuck, or send him back to the woods so he can go chuck some wood after all.

(Although woodchuck / groundhog relocation is illegal in some areas, so probably don’t take him back to the woods after all.)

Woodchuck enjoying the lush grass of the back yard in 2021
Woodchuck enjoying the lush grass of the back yard in 2021

How do you get rid of a groundhog in the garden?

Groundhogs love the garden. Why not – it’s free food! Groundhogs can be difficult to remove from the garden. Deterrents with sprays or granular material may help. You can try sprinkling bloodmeal (a fertilizer made of dried blood) to repel them, but the smell does wash away with rain or watering. However, the most effective method of getting rid of a groundhog from the garden is groundhog removal by a professional wildlife trapper.

You may be able to try trapping groundhogs yourself, but you’ll have to research any ordinances in your area. Some states or townships prohibit catch and release of groundhogs as they are considered a nuisance animal.

(In other words, the ordinances require lethal capture when doing groundhog removal.)

Most don’t like to think about this layer of getting rid of groundhogs. I think that’s why our groundhog is still hanging out in our backyard and under our deck.

I will keep trying to figure out how to get rid of groundhogs in the garden and hopefully we can reach a peaceful solution.

How to Get Rid of Groundhogs in the Garden

Try these tips to help you figure out how to get rid of a groundhog in your yard.

  • Try groundhog repellent spray or granules.
  • Place human hair or pet hair around your garden.
  • Fence in your vegetable garden.
  • Block or fill in groundhog burrows.
  • Use wire cloches or other plant barriers.
  • Hire a groundhog removal company.

As with anything, your mileage may vary. Sometimes the only sure way to get rid of a groundhog is to actually get rid of the groundhog.

For this reason, I recommend calling some wildlife removal professionals if your backyard woodchuck is a true nuisance.

Groundhog in Backyard Precautions

So, do you know how to get rid of groundhogs in the yard? Because they are fierce contenders!

Keep in mind that groundhogs are wild animals with sharp teeth and claws. Do not corner them or allow your dogs to chase and corner them!

How to Get Rid of Groundhogs Safely:

Take some precautions if you have a woodchuck or groundhog eating garden crops in your yard.

  • Avoid cornering the groundhog.
  • Do not let your children approach or play near the groundhog.
  • Prevent dogs and other pets from chasing or cornering the woodchuck.
  • Call in a wildlife removal specialist for the safest results.
  • If unsure, contact your local township or state wildlife and game commission for advice.

Back in 2013 when my oldest was a little over a year old, we were in the kitchen one day. Suddenly I hear, “Hi, hi dog.”

Knowing our border collie was in the house with us, I immediately stopped what I was doing to go look out back. What dog could be in our yard?!

Border Collie watching groundhogs from inside the house in 2013
Our beloved Border Collie watching groundhogs from inside the house in 2013

To my amazement, I saw a big, fat groundhog! Probably the parent of these three above.

Gardening has never been the same since.

Groundhog Eating Garden Problems

I am sure anyone reading this blog can relate to the amount of time, work, love, and care that go into a garden.

It’s beyond devastating to go out to check on your plants and find so many veggies chomped down to the ground.

Or entire rows of dahlias missing!

Crops that take months to mature, suddenly gone!

Plants chewed down to a nub before they could even produce a yield!

Can you feel the frustration? I’ve unfortunately started getting used to it.

Three baby groundhogs on the deck in the backyard in 2013
Three baby groundhogs / woodchucks on the deck in the backyard in 2013… check out those teeth!

How to Get Rid of Groundhogs – What We’ve Tried

We’ve tried groundhog repellent pellets. I’ve tried barricading my gardens with wildlife netting or wire waste baskets or other barriers. Usually, the groundhog just knocks things over to get what he wants.

In a fury over lost plants, I’ve been tempted to try the “Double Bubble” bubble gum groundhog removal strategy. But, my caring heart won’t let me.

I am all about the live and let live philosophy… Unfortunately, our yard just isn’t quite big enough to plant acres of crops to simply grow enough to share with every groundhog, rabbit, and squirrel. (If your yard is, go for it! One day I hope to have this luxury!)

So, all these years later, I’m still dealing with the groundhog under deck problem. I think the biggest solution is to rip out our deck and replace it with a concrete or paver patio.

Of course, the groundhog burrow under our neighbor’s shed provides ample access to our gardens, still. So, I may be fighting a losing battle here.

There may be a phone call to the groundhog removal man in my future. Grateful for any further tips!

Big fat groundhog woodchuck in our garden in 2021
Big fat groundhog / woodchuck in our garden in 2021

Did you find a groundhog in your yard? Do you have any amazing tips on how to get rid of groundhogs or plans for discouraging them from stealing all your thoughtfully grown fruits and veggies?

Hit us up in the comments and let’s all strategize about what to do about groundhog garden problems!

(I can’t take much more of this gardening groundhog’s day!)

Happy Gardening Y’all!

06.22.22 – Updated to add headings for safety and getting rid of groundhogs.

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