How to Keep Groundhogs From Eating Plants


If you see the ends of your plants bitten off in a smooth diagonal cut, you probably have groundhogs eating your plants. These pudgy, furry animals, also known as woodchucks and whistle pigs, eat plants early in the morning and in the evening during the summer months. Groundhogs also gnaw continuously on trees, causing severe tree damage, to keep their ever-growing teeth at a length they can control. The techniques to keep groundhogs from eating your plants are generally inexpensive and effective.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire fence
  • Beach ball
  • Radio
  • Large spray bottle
  • 1 tablespoon dish detergent
  • 1 tablespoon castor oil
  • 1 gallon warm water
  • Container
  • Red pepper spray
  • Garlic spray
  • Wire mesh trap
  • Fresh vegetable bait
  • Scarecrow (optional)
  • Motion lights (optional)

Install a Fence

  • Install a wire fence around your garden, and bury the lower fence edge 10 to 12 inches into the ground, so the groundhogs cannot dig underneath.

  • Bend the lower 6 inches of the fence outward, so it has an L-shape. This further keeps the groundhogs from trying to burrow under the fence.

  • Ensure your fence has a height of 3 to 4 feet. Bend the top 12 inches of the fence in an outward 45-degree angle to prevent groundhogs from climbing over the fence.

Scare Tactics

  • Place a beach ball or a scarecrow in your garden area. Groundhogs frighten easily and will stay out of your garden.

  • Make loud noises, such as clapping your hands or turning on a radio in your garden. Motion lights scare groundhogs, also. Move the radio and motion lights around every few days, so the groundhogs will not see them as harmless.

  • Spray groundhogs with water from a garden hose to scare them away.

Spray Repellents

  • Spray your plants and soil with a solution of 1 tablespoon of dish detergent, 1 tablespoon of castor oil, and 1 gallon of warm water to prevent groundhogs from eating your plants. Fill a large spray bottle with the solution.

  • Spray your plants with red pepper spray or garlic spray, both of which groundhogs cannot stand.

  • Reapply all spray repellents after a heavy rain or heavy dew, since the water will wash away much of the solution.

Set Traps

  • Bait a wire mesh trap using carrots, lettuce, apples, or any plants you notice the groundhog has been eating.

  • Place the trap at the groundhog's burrow opening at dusk, while the groundhog is still inside, or place the trap where you see the most damage occurring to your plants.

  • Check your trap twice daily. Use fresh bait every day until you catch the groundhogs.

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  • Photo Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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