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I was recently asked what vegetables you could grow that aren't bothered by any pests.  I couldn't come up with any.  As long as there are groundhogs in the world, our vegetables won't be safe.

I've said before that I find groundhogs to be adorable looking creatures. But much like Bambi, when groundhogs are in your garden, they're going to need more than a cute face to escape a gardener's wrath. Unlike Bambi and her kin, it seems groundhogs have never met a plant they didn't find tasty. They can wipe out a garden overnight and bring a grown gardener to tears.

Many people will tell you there is no solution for groundhogs except trapping them. Even that is only a temporary cure, since new groundhogs will find the old burrows and tunnels and move right in. Of course, first you have to identify the perpetrator as a groundhog, since you won't often catch them in the act. David Beaulieu can help with that, as well as offering some other Options for Groundhog Control.

Photo: Tim Boyle / Getty Images News


June 26, 2006 at 11:38 am
(1) Jen-Jen says:

Did you know that groundhogs could climb? I say a groundhog climb up a four foot garden post and down to get into my garden. What do you think I should do about that?

June 26, 2006 at 11:55 am
(2) Marie Iannotti says:

Yes indeed, they can climb very well. Groundhogs are close cousins of squirrels.

The only success I’ve had with fencing to keep groundhogs out was when I let the fencing flop. If it’s rigid, they will climb it. I attached a 2′ wide piece of wire fencing all along the top of my vegetable garden fence and just let it flop over. The little guy didn’t like the swaying and lack of stability and jumped right off. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it worked.

June 26, 2006 at 8:33 pm
(3) Pat says:

Is there a good way to get rid of ground hogs without hurting them? I have a family under my shed and they ate most of my garden last year

June 27, 2006 at 8:42 pm
(4) dave says:

Folks, groundhogs are extremely dangerous pests that will sample your garden to death; being nice and using box traps won’t work generally since most (except for the very young) are too big to fit; keep fences floppy to prevent climbing, plant a second fence down into the ground to prevent digging, and exterminate by whatever means necessary; otherwise, don’t bother planting a garden.

June 28, 2006 at 5:24 am
(5) Marie Iannotti says:

I’ve only known groundhogs to be dangerous if cornered and then, can you blame them. I had a ravenous little eater move in under my porch a couple of years ago. I called in a professional who reportedly has a licence to trap and relocate the critters to state land, where the population had dropped due to some kind of problem. Who knows for sure that he did relocate and it wasn’t just hype… But I would caution you against trying to relocate them yourself. Most states have laws about that.

He did tell me that most groundhogs are solitary. Once the babies have matured, they’re expected to move out and find homes of their own. Of course, by then they can do a whole lot of damage. Fencing is fine for the vegetable garden, but my little guy feasted on everything. He was especially fond of astilbes.

July 11, 2006 at 8:41 am
(6) Laurel says:

My porch cats take care of the moles so I just let nature take it’s course. My cats also bring me mice,squirrels and snakes;dead of course. I have Lots of bird feeders and hummingbird feeders, never see the cats interested in them. I used to trap and relocate squirrels but now let the cats just scare them away. The geese in the lake also have almost completely eliminated the water moccasins. I’ve seen geese chasing a snake all the way across the lake. Snakes rob their nests of eggs so the cycle of life is going on to my utter enjoyment. Cranes visit my beach and eat the baby turtles which if left on their own would overpopulate the lake.Stand back and let nature keep things in balance.

July 11, 2006 at 1:34 pm
(7) Marie Iannotti says:

It sounds like you have a nice balance of nature where you are. I think my cats invite mice, moles and voles into the yard so they’ll always have something to play with.

I’m all for letting nature take its course, but I think the balance is unfortunately lost in most suburban neighborhoods. A groundhog in a neatly manicured neighborhood has no predator but oncoming traffic.

April 7, 2007 at 11:00 am
(8) P.J says:


July 22, 2007 at 11:58 am
(9) Jasmine Arcuse says:

Did you know groundhogs are super cute.But they eat a lot.

August 6, 2007 at 11:41 am
(10) Gary says:

What animal (S.E. pennsylvania) would eat a dead groundhog?

December 19, 2007 at 12:51 pm
(11) Fred says:

Spaghetti is the worlds 2nd most famous groundhog’s “Smith Lake Jake” favorite food. I read all about him in a groundhog magazine, and they said that he actually smiles when you tickle him, and he wears a hat. cool!

July 29, 2008 at 12:42 pm
(12) Susie says:

I have something burrowing holes under our apple tree. The holes are about 7 or 8 inches across. I was wondering if anyone has any idea as to what it might be? I live on a lake so not far from water. Could it be a groundhog and how do I find out for sure?

July 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm
(13) gardening says:

I don’t know how to tell for sure, without seeing him come out, but the size of the hole sounds right and they love apples. Do you see any plants being eaten? Groundhogs are usually most active early in the morning and in the evenings.

June 15, 2009 at 9:16 am
(14) Rita says:

We have started discing around the property and have yet to have a gopher bother my goods! It’s been a couple of years now.

June 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm
(15) gardening says:

Rita, do you think it’s because their cover is gone or is it specific plants that have been pushed out?

June 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm
(16) kathy says:

does anyone know if groundhogs can play dead? My dogs got 2 of them but they did not appear to have drawn blood. They were there for acouple of hours but now they are gone.

June 27, 2009 at 6:14 am
(17) gardening says:

Kathy, I’ve never seen it, but you intrigued me and I found this video on YouTube of a young groundhog playing possum.

June 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm
(18) Quincy says:

I tried to let the groundhogs in my backyard go, but when they began digging near my house foundation in addition to eating my garden, I looked for options. In our state, it’s illegal to relocate groundhogs. We could trap them, but we’d have to kill them. Even calling the animal control and wildlife folks, we’d have to pay for the traps and for them to be killed. So, this spring, I just sat on the back porch with a rifle and picked them off one by one. It was not my desired solution, but it was effective. We’ve since gone through and filled in as many of the openings as we’ve found, and we’ll be bringing in a bulldozer this fall to level things out better and finish off any remaining holes. Hopefully that will help keep them away for good.

June 18, 2010 at 8:49 am
(19) gardening says:

Quincy, I’m sorry things got so drastic, but I can appreciate the amount of damage they can do in a vegetable garden. Most of us don’t have the option of shooting animals in our yards.

You’ll need to get rid of their burrows and any overgrowth they might have used for cover. Groundhogs are infamous for moving into empty burrows and travleeng the neighborhood.

June 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(20) Growing Tomatoes says:

I’m a gardener.
And also have blog on gardening: http://allthingstomato.com/category/blog

Can anyone suggest me about growing tomatoes.

June 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm
(21) Cindy says:

Ground hogs don’t have a chance – my cats keep them away..

June 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm
(22) Warren says:

I have been battling a pair of groundhogs. I have chicken wire two feet under ground attached to a 7″ plastic mesh deer fence. I didn’t realize they would simply claw through the plastic. I just added an extra 3′ tall chicken wire surround on top of the deer fence and a young one still managed to pull it over enough to get between and slide through its hole. In a bizarre twist I found the little guy dead behind a row of corn with no apparent reason. A couple days before I had sprayed everything with pepper spray to hopefully deter the things… could that kill a groundhog???

June 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm
(23) gardening says:

Cindy, that must be one big cat!

June 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm
(24) gardening says:

Warren, I don’t think the pepper spray did him in. He was either attacked or it was his time, poor thing. Seems a shame to die just as the food is becoming so plentiful. ;-)

I tried plastic netting once and the rabbits chewed their openings like a flap, so that I didn’t notice it for the longest time.

July 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm
(25) Rik Emmett says:

My neighbor has had 6-8 under his deck for the past 2 years. He has tried everything. Will last night was it. I had bought about 2 dozen M80′s about a month ago. We removed the decking above the few 4 holes we could see and began dropping them in. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. They did not kill them however they crawled out like a bunch of drunks. Thats where the air rifle came in handy. He now has NINE groundhog scalps hanging up (kidding) but they are dead

July 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(26) J21 says:

I love groundhogs. I feed them with nuts and bananas, just like my squirrels. I also have tomato plants, but they are protected.

July 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm
(27) gardening says:

J21, they are close cousins of squirrels. They can even climb trees. My groundhogs eat whatever they want – and a lot of it.

October 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm
(28) Carol says:

I have a family of ground hogs that live under my front porch and storage shed, we enjoy watching them, little ones like to ay on the fornt porch and get sun. I don’t mind sharing the yard with them,they never give us any problems. I want to help them feed before they hybernate,can I feed them dry dog food?

October 7, 2012 at 3:01 am
(29) gardening says:

They usually split up, as they get older. They’re not pack animals.

I wouldn’t put food out. They’re vegetarians and will find plenty to feed themselves with in your yard.

March 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm
(30) Nick says:

Use a conibear 220 place over the hole hich they are using. Check trap
Regularly sine it is a kill trap. In the early spring months try one for dinner
Remove all glands it is a mild meat. Good luck!!!

March 17, 2013 at 7:14 am
(31) gardening says:

I guess that’s one way to reclaim all the vegetables he ate. ;-) But I made the mistake of naming him and I can’t eat something I’m on a first name basis with.

June 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm
(32) Harleygirl31 says:

I read that if you have an in door cat. Take the used litter form the litter box and put it in any entry to the ground hogs burrow. It will cause the ground hogs to leave the burrow. Then when they are out you pile as much dirt in the entry as you can to seal it. Supposedly they will move on to find a new home. I am going to try it and will let you all know if it works.

June 21, 2013 at 3:13 pm
(33) gardening says:

I’d be interested in hearing how the kitty litter experiment goes. Unfortunately, in my experience, they just tunnel a new opening.

August 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm
(34) Cheryl says:

I owned 3 Standard Dachshunds and 1 Malamute last year and they did a real number on the ground hogs. Now I own 4 dachshunds and the Malamute and I just might have to let them back out into the garden. I also saw a ground hog sitting on our barn window this morning. I hope it won’t come in our dog’s door to our kitchen. OH MY! So far this year our Have A Heart trap has cought 5 ground hogs. I wonder if they know their way back home?

August 11, 2013 at 5:21 am
(35) Marie Iannotti says:

Cheryl, I wish I could get a dog. Sigh. One of these days. Someone suggested a Jack Russel, because they’ll follow them back down into the hole. I don’t know that I’d like that.

And I don’t know if they can find there way home, but a new one always seems to move into the burrow. I would be fascinating to what goes on down there. 5?!!

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