Updated: September 13, 2020
Keeping groundhogs away is high on my list of critical garden tasks. That’s because if I don’t keep groundhogs away, I won’t have any garden left.
You see, my neighborhood is infested with groundhogs (a.k.a. woodchucks). Rarely a summer day goes by without me seeing at least one.
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After years of trying all sorts of groundhog control remedies: traps, fox and coyote urine, vigilance and various kinds of fencing, I now know what it takes to humanely keep groundhogs out of the garden.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to trap groundhogs with Havahart traps. I’ve found that these traps work for the first groundhog or two, especially for hungry juveniles. Cantaloupe seems to be the best bait.
But sooner or later, you are left with only the smart woodchucks. They learn to avoid the trap.
Keeping groundhogs away
The groundhogs in my neighborhood believe that a garden, anyone’s garden, is their own person buffet. They will at least try everything in a garden, especially if it is surrounded by a fence.
They’ve learned that garden food is good to eat. I’ve had groundhogs eat potato plants (their supposed to be poisonous) and tomato plants (not the tomatoes). I never would have expected this.
Sometimes the damage blamed on groundhogs could actually be caused by other animals. In my backyard, this includes deer, turkeys, rabbits, raccoons and skunks.
Any solution to the groundhog problem would also have to protect against these animals, too.
For a while, the groundhogs didn’t notice that I grow cucumbers inside a hoop house.— Suburban Hobby Farmer
I use a two pronged strategy that has been working for several seasons now.
First, I use a chain link dog kennel, not to keep a dog in, but to keep groundhogs and other animals out.
Second, I use a hoop house with fencing inside to protect against the groundhogs going under the plastic cover.
A dog kennel for groundhog control
By far, my most successful groundhog control strategy has been to put my garden inside a chain link dog kennel.
The enclosure is six feet tall. It has done an excellent job keeping other animals out, too.
So, for example, deer don’t even try to jump the fence into the kennel.
The kennel’s advantages are numerous. It:
- Is very easy to assemble
- Expands to any size garden
- Has an animal proof gate
Best of all for me, the dog kennel requires no fence posts to sink in the ground.
Unfortunately, my yard has a ton of granite stones in the ground. Some are very large.
New Hampshire is the granite state. The rocky terrain makes it nearly impossible to sink any kind of posts into the earth.
The kennel, all by itself, won’t stop groundhogs. I’ve learned this the hard way when I caught one inside the fence eating my green beans.
It just ran right through the chain link fence like there was nothing there.
My solution was to put chickenwire right over the chain link fence. It was an easy job. That stopped them.
I also buried chickenwire around the perimeter so that the woodchucks couldn’t tunnel their way in.
I will tell you, though, people think I’m strange because I have a dog kennel in the yard but no dog.
Use a hoop house to control woodchucks
The other groundhog prevention method is my backyard hoop house. Of course, the primary goal of the hoop house is to keep plants warm and extend the growing season.
But it performs groundhog control, too.
For a while, the groundhogs didn’t notice that I grow cucumbers inside a hoop house. Cucumber leaves are their favorite meal after green bean plants.
Related: Hoop Houses are Tomato Growing Machines!
Eventually, one groundhog figured out there was something good in the hoop house. To stop them from re-entering, I put a small fence inside around the perimeter.
It was too scary for the groundhog to go in because the fence made it difficult to get out again. Screening on the hoop house doors and windows also helps prevent unwanted visitors, including cucumber beetles and other insects.
Between the chain link dog kennel and the fenced hoop house, I am able to protect my plants from all kinds of garden eating animals.
If you are having groundhog problems, you should give these two options a try.
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- How to Stop Squash Borer
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