Got Groundhogs in Your Garden? Here Are Some Tips To Help

Groundhogs are the largest member of family Sciuridae, or ground squirrels and are best known for their ability (or lack thereof) to forecast the arrival of spring every year on Groundhog day. Groundhogs are mainly herbivores, but they will also eat slugs, snails, grubs and other insects. They are commonly seen in open grassy areas, but they originally lived along the edges of forests. They have adapted well to urban life and they can still quickly climb up a tree if needed (something I have yet to witness, but it’s on my nature bucket list!). Groundhogs are great burrowers. they dig tunnels with several openings to run to when threatened. They live an average of 2-3 years, but can live to be as old as 6 years. They reproduce well, making them a common critter to see around town and sometimes in your garden. Many gardeners have problems with them as they can eat quite a bit in a short time. As cute as they are, we may not want groundhogs in your garden having an all-u-can-eat buffet with your favourite plants.

Here are a few ways to discourage those pesky groundhogs from eating your garden:

1. Sprinkle bone meal around your garden and on the plants that you want to protect. Groundhogs don't like the smell of ground bones and will avoid the area. The bone meal will also feed your plants.









2. Build a fence to keep groundhogs out. Make sure that it is under the ground at least two feet and three feet tall, as groundhogs like to climb and tunnel.

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3. Place objects that move and make noise around the garden space you would like to protect to scare the groundhogs out of your garden.

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4. Groundhogs like clover, so removing it creates a deterrent, alternatively, planting it in your lawn can tempt them away from eating your other plants!

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5.  Motion activated sprinklers such as the Scarecrow may deter groundhogs by scaring them anytime they trigger the sensor with their movement. The bold ones might get used to these, so try moving them about so the groundhog doesn't learn the pattern or path to avoid set them off.

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6. Spray a mixture of castor oil and water over your plants to deter the Groundhogs from eating them. They don't like the taste of either. Just make sure to reapply after rain or watering. You can also sprinkle hot sauce or hot pepper around your garden as well, be careful with this, some critters might get it on their paws and then scratch their eyes, which can be quite painful for them.

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7. As a very last resort, you can trap and relocate them, but sometimes they have a hard time finding their way around the new locations which can be fatal (which applies to many relocated animals). Hire a professional animal control company who will relocate them to suitable habitat to increase their chance of survival. Note that it is illegal under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to relocate any wild animal beyond one kilometer of the point of capture. Professional wildlife removal companies will  happily show their permit. If they won't, you might want to consider another company.  Removing one groundhog will leave an opening in available habitat for another, so it may not solve the problem.