The Q&A Archives: Deterring Groundhogs

Question: We have a major groundhog problem. We erected a 4 ft. fence buried about 6 inches underground. They climb the fence and eat the newly formed vegetables, especially enjoying the bean plants as they shoot up from the ground. They bite the green tomatoes (last year 14 plants were planted and we needed to pick the fruit green so we would get some). They destroyed the pumpkins, watermelon and cantaloupe. Last year, my husband humanely trapped 13. Two that we know of resisted the trap (and I am sure havemultiplied). This year, we would like to profit from our garden. In the past, I tried planting wormwood Artemisia (gopher purge) in the spot where they tunneled under the fence - they dug a new hole just next to the plants. I've also tried pet hair in the garden, cat litter in their holes and a red pepper/garlic oil spray on the plants. They are persistant. What other remedies can I use or plant to repel them from our garden? Suni Woodstock, MD

Answer: Well, you tried all the usual methods! Here are a few more possibilitites: Remove all cover, such as tall grass, weeds, woodpiles, etc from your garden area to make it less attractive to the critters. Plant a lush patch of clover, alfalfa, or soybeans strategically away from the garden to lure them away. Try sprinkling dried blood, blood meal, and/or talcum powder around their favorite plants. Try bending the top 12 inches or so of your fence so it faces away from the garden. This will make it difficult for the stocky creatures to scale over. If possible, bury the fence to a depth of 18 inches, at least in their favorite tunnelling spots. Try placing a strip of black plastic around the perimeter of the garden, extending a few feet inside the garden fence as well. Use an electric fence wire just outside your fence, 4 to 5 inches off the ground.

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