Groundhogs may be the weather forecasters of the animal world, but they can wreak havoc in a home garden. They eat many plants, and are particularly fond of garden vegetables such as peas, carrot tops and beans. The rodent can climb trees to eat buds and leaves and will eat eggs and young birds if they can get to them. If groundhogs are a problem in your garden, there are control methods that encourage the furry pests to leave your veggies in peace.
Tie party balloons, reflective tape streamers, plastic bags, and other items easily blown by the wind to various points around the garden. Groundhogs are cautious creatures and are easily startled.
Install a wire mesh fence around the garden. Bend the fencing into an “L” shape with the upright portion 3 to 4 feet high and the bottom bent outwards 6 to 12 inches away from the garden's edge. Use landscaping staples to secure the horizontal portion to the ground; this will discourage digging. Wire the upright portion of the fence loosely to fence posts; groundhogs don't like to climb unstable surfaces.
Install a two-strand electric fence around the garden. Place the first strand 1 to 4 inches above the ground and the second strand 8 to 9 inches above the ground. Another option is to install one strand, 4 inches high, in front of a non-electric fence.
Look for groundhog burrows. Groundhogs tend to dig their homes under houses, sheds or other buildings. Burrows generally have several entrances. Early spring, soon after the groundhog has come out of hibernation, or late summer after young have been weaned are the best times to evict the groundhog from its hole.
Partially dig out all burrow entrances you can find and clear away all vegetation around them.
Place urine-soaked clumping cat litter just inside the burrow entrances. The strong odor is often enough to convince the groundhog to leave.
Install a one-way animal excluder door in the main burrow entrance; this will allow the groundhog to leave but will not let it back in.
Fill the entrances with loose-packed grass or other lightweight material after the groundhog has left its burrow. If this material remains undisturbed after 2 to 3 days, the groundhog has abandoned its burrow and you can safely seal it off.
Dig out the areas around the burrow entrances. Bury square sections of heavy-gauge welded wire mesh at least one foot deep across all entrances.
Live trap and remove the animal as a last resort and only if it is causing substantial damage or is a health or safety concern. Consult with your state Department of Natural Resources to determine if you need a permit for groundhog trapping. Release or destroy the groundhog within 24 hours of trapping. If you are planning to release the groundhog, you will need the property owner's permission.