How Do I Get Rid of a Groundhog?

“What is the best way to get rid of a groundhog?” Question from Glenn of Parsippany, New Jersey

Answer: Groundhogs can be very destructive creatures as well as smart and evasive. I have dealt with a few around my vegetable garden, and they are real pests! Here are several removal methods that I recommend.

1. Remove cover. Groundhogs dig dens where there is ample green cover. If you can find the den entryways, cut back any cover you can. It will encourage your groundhog to move on. (Some will tell you to pour things down a groundhog’s den hole or smoke them out, but these methods are rarely, if ever, effective. Groundhogs can have as many as 4 to 5 escape exits and can always create a new den.)

2. Live trap: Live trapping them is an iffy venture but worth a try. Offering desirable food within the trap your best bet. Groundhogs are most attracted to tasty, aromatic fruits and vegetables. Contact your local Department of Natural Resources to find out where you can drop off a captured groundhog. (Be sure to wear thick gloves to protect your hands while moving a live-trap cage.)

3. Use motion-activated deterrents: There are motion-activated repelling devices that will scare groundhogs away from your yard or garden when you are not there. These can be quite effective.

4. Get a dog or cat: A dog will do more to scare away a groundhog, but cats can also be helpful, especially large male cats. Groundhogs will clear out if threatened or frightened by a pet.

5. Use copious repellents: If you use some of the methods above in combination with bad-smelling granular or liquid repellents around your yard or garden, you will create a truly undesirable place for groundhogs to reside.

I would also recommend fencing (at least 5-feet high and sunk at least 1-foot below ground), but this can be very expensive. One thing that I do not recommend is the use of poison, which can harm pets, wildlife, and children. Poisons are a real liability and danger.

To get more good ideas, I recommend that you read the article below.

I hope that these tips help!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith, Black Gold Horticulturist

Managing the Six Worst Garden Animal Pests


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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