What Do I Do If A Groundhog Keeps Eating My Plants

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Anne Richard

Groundhogs are cute, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to forgive them when they eat your plants. The disappointment of finding your plants destroyed by a groundhog is angering enough to do something about it right away. Even still, you may not be sure what to do if a groundhog keeps eating your plants.

Spray your garden and yard with diluted castor oil and scatter garlic and lemongrass if groundhogs keep eating your plants. You can also treat your yard with lime to both scare off groundhogs and enrich the soil with nutrients. Otherwise, it helps to scatter loose animal hair and animal urine near your plants, so groundhogs will stay away from them.

Regularly trim your trees and bushes, so groundhogs are less likely to nest near your plants. Follow along as we explore what to do if a groundhog keeps eating your plants.

How Do You Stop Groundhogs From Eating Your Plants?

1. Diluted Castor Oil

You don’t have to spend a fortune to keep groundhogs out of your garden, especially if you have castor oil at home. Castor oil is one of the best natural repellents to stop groundhogs from eating your plants. Simply mix 1 part castor oil with 3 parts water in a spray bottle and stir it gently.

Some people even add a small drop of dish soap to the mixture, but you don’t need much. Otherwise, the dish soap could damage your plants if you spray them directly. Carefully spray the castor oil mixture around your garden and at the edge of the tree line.

Focus on spots where you’ve seen groundhogs come out to eat your plants for the best results. Repeat this process every few weeks or as needed when the mixture wears off.

2. Spices And Garlic

Cayenne pepper and garlic are delicious in creamy seafood pasta, but groundhogs don’t feel the same way. Aromatic food and spices like garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, and lavender smell awful to groundhogs. You can keep them away from your plants if you scatter these cooking items around your garden.

It’s also a great idea to spread some garlic and pepper near where the groundhogs burrow. Even simple herbs like lemongrass can deter groundhogs. You can also combine several herbs and spices in a spray bottle, dilute them with water, and spray your yard’s perimeter.

3. Make Noise

Many animals, including groundhogs, are scared easily by noises. Sadly, ultrasonic pest repellents don’t often work for groundhogs, so you must get creative. Even something as simple as balloons and beach balls can scare groundhogs away from your plants.

Simply tie a few balloons or beach balls to a tree or stake in a position where the wind can easily blow them. The sound will scare groundhogs when the wind blows, and it should keep them away from your plants. This is considered a humane way to deter groundhogs, as it won’t harm them.

Wind chimes are also helpful but keep in mind that your neighbors may not like them. That shouldn’t be a problem if your houses are spaced far apart.

4. Animal Urine

Animals like groundhogs are very sensitive to the smell of other animals’ urine. That’s a matter of self-preservation, as they pick up the smell of urine and leave the area to avoid predators. Groundhogs have many natural predators, such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, and bobcats.

Depending on where you live, you can likely buy fox and coyote urine at hunting stores or online. Pour the urine around your yard and in front of your garden, but don’t let it touch the plants. Otherwise, you can simply bring your dog near where the groundhogs burrow.

Encourage your dog to urinate in that area when it’s time to take them outside. Both urine and dog droppings should scare the groundhogs away.

5. Clean Your Yard

Few things attract groundhogs more than messy yards. Groundhogs are drawn to overgrown plants and messy bushes because they are easy to eat and hide in. That’s especially true for bushes that are close to a tree line, as they can quickly leave their burrow to hide and eat without detection.

Prune your trees, bushes, and plants as often as possible and throw the trimmings in a yard waste bag or compost. Otherwise, the trimmings will attract groundhogs and even other animals like snakes if you leave them out.

6. Lawn Lime

Countless homeowners use lime to enrich their lawns with nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Groundhogs hate lime just as much as homeowners love it, and you can use that to your advantage. Spread some lime throughout your lawn and focus on areas where groundhogs are most active.

You can also hire a lawn service to treat your yard with lime, and that costs $80 to $200 in many cases. The cost depends on how big your lawn is as well as the lawn service’s labor rate.

7. Install A Fence

Groundhogs are persistent, so sometimes a fence is all that works to keep them away from your plants. That said, groundhogs love to dig, so you can’t trust any traditional fence. You must install an in-ground fence to stop them from digging and eating your plants.

In-ground fences make it much harder for groundhogs to dig deep and access your plants. The fence must go at least 5” below the ground for the best results. Some homeowners even install fences that go 12” deep. This can also help keep moles out of your yard, but in-ground fences are more effective for groundhogs.

8. Scatter Hair

It may sound morbid, but you can scare groundhogs away if you scatter hair clippings around your yard. Whether it's yours or your dog’s hair, groundhogs will perceive it as a threat. Groundhogs often respect another animal’s territory, and that’s what the loose hair represents to them.

You can even scatter the hair around the groundhog’s burrow, so they see it right away when they emerge. Keep in mind that wind will eventually blow the loose hair away, so this is a temporary solution.

9. Hire A Pest Control Service

Understandably, some people aren’t comfortable working with wild animals like groundhogs. In that case, it’s worth the cost to hire a professional service to spray your yard’s perimeter . Pest control professionals can also set up humane traps to catch groundhogs without hurting them.

The total cost depends on what services the professionals provide. For example, you can expect to spend at least $75 to have a professional spray your yard with repellent. It’s more expensive to hire exterminators to set out live traps, as they must retrieve the groundhogs and release them.

That costs up to $300 in most cases, but it can cost more if the problem persists. Some pest control services can also set out deadly traps, and those cost at least $100 each. However, that isn’t allowed in all states and municipalities.

Summing It Up

Spray diluted castor oil and garlic oil around your plants to stop groundhogs from eating them. You can also use coyote urine to deter groundhogs, as they are scared of coyotes. Otherwise, you can simply install an in-ground fence or hire animal control to set traps and catch the groundhogs.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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