How to Keep Groundhogs Out of a Garden

Groundhogs (Marmota monax), also referred to as woodchucks, are a type of large, stocky squirrel that eat a primarily vegetarian diet and can quickly devour most of your garden foliage. While they are generally harmless, they may carry diseases, including rabies and tularemia. To keep these potential pests out of your garden, you'll need to use harmless deterrents and physical barriers to exclude them.

Install Fencing

Keep groundhogs out of your garden with fencing.

Step 1

Use chicken wire to create a fence at least 6 feet in height. Choose chicken wire with mesh openings no more than 3-by-3 inches in size so the groundhogs can't sneak through. Secure it with wooden posts.

Step 2

Leave the top foot of wire loose and bend it away from the yard at a 45-degree angle so the groundhogs can't climb over the fence.

Step 3

Bend the bottom 4 inches of wire at a 90-degree angle outward, in an "L" shape, at the base of the fence and bury it about a foot deep. This prevents groundhogs from burrowing under the fence.

Use Deterrents

Groundhogs may be scared out of your garden with a few simple deterrents.

  • Suspend a beach ball from a tree to frighten groundhogs away.
  • Tie shiny metallic balloons around your garden so that they will sway in the breeze.
  • Install motion-sensing sprinklers to scare any groundhogs wandering around your garden away with a harmless stream of water.

Deal With Dens

If you find groundhog holes in your garden, evict the groundhogs inside by pouring used cat litter or rags soaked in olive oil into them. Wait for the smell to get rid of the groundhogs.

Clear brush from around the entrance of the dens. Groundhogs prefer the overgrowth to give them protection from predators, so clearing it away will encourage them to leave.

To see if the groundhogs are gone, place a few crumpled pieces of newspaper in their holes. If the newspapers haven't moved after five days, the groundhogs have left and it's safe to cover the holes with chicken wire to prevent them from returning.

Groundhog-Proof the Garden

To keep groundhogs from devouring your plants, dust them with some cayenne pepper to make them taste unpleasant to the critters. Spraying some predator urine around your yard, such as bobcat, fox or coyote urine, will also deter them.

Another option is to simply plant foliage that groundhogs don't find appetizing around your garden. Such plants include lobelia (Lobelia erinus__), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 10 through 11, and daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.), which grow in zones 3 through 10. Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) is also groundhog-resistant and grows in USDA zones 3 through 9, as is gopher plant (Euphorbia lathyris), which grows in zones 5 through 9.