Remember those cute little, cuddly-looking groundhogs from Groundhog Day? Well, that’s not how most lawn owners see these stocky rodents. However, endearing they may appear in their on-screen, animated versions, in reality, they usually give vegetable gardeners a good run for their money.
Being some of the most energetic burrowers out there, they can single-handedly wreak havoc on your carefully tended lawns if you are not careful.
How To Plug Groundhog Holes?
The numerous holes and tunnels are not only hazardous and contributors to ground instability but can also damage underground water systems and drive up repair costs. For homeowners in North America, it thus becomes critically important to know about these land beavers and take stock of their options for defense.
This article is all you need to protect your pretty back lawn from these tirelessly determined burrowers. So, read on and take notes!
A closer look at the furry rodent
Let us first get to know these seemingly-harmless furry little creatures. Are you confused about what are groundhogs, and how are they a problem?
Also called woodchuck or whistle pig, the groundhog is the largest member of the squirrel family. They have strong, stubby legs, grizzled, gray-brown fur; small ears; a short, bushy tail; and sharp, curved claws. Their chisel-like teeth that never stop growing are sure to remind one of Peter Pettigrew.
Usually found in open fields or meadows close to wooded thickets, to the general dismay, they have also frequently made their way into domestic lawns and backyards.
They thrive on a varied, plant-based diet, eating everything from carrots, apples, and garden veggies to flowers, dandelions, and even tree bark. These binge-eaters consume about 1 lb to 1.5 lb of vegetables in a day, meaning they can even out your vegetable patch in no time!
Fortunately for you, they hibernate from October to spring. From spring till fall, however, they remain active as can be, especially early during the day, to stock up on the calories they need for hibernation.
Getting a deeper insight
One thing to know about them is that they burrow a lot. So much so that they have even been credited with excavating archaeological finds in Ohio! Being extensive burrowers, they use their claws to dig out multi-chambered, complex underground tunnels. These can stretch beyond 25 feet under the ground, having 2-3 entrances with 10-inch wide openings. This is what makes them a menace to domestic grounds.
Thankfully, groundhogs have been around, nibbling away vegetable patches, for quite a long time. Naturally, over the years, people have come up with plenty of ways to keep them at bay. Here we take a look at some of the effective ones.
Laying the ‘groundwork’
The first thing to note when trying to keep the woodchucks away is not to lure them without meaning to. Make sure your place doesn’t look like the perfect, attractive haven to these land beavers.
One way to do this is to do away with the beans, peas, and melons – the all-time groundhog favorites until you get your garden secured. Since they seek places with cover, clean away any piles of debris or wood you might have on your lawn. Equally important is to regularly trim plants that may be used as cover.
You would be well-advised to take all the precautions you can because a groundhog is not one to be underestimated!
The ultimate repellents
If you have spotted a groundhog problem in your garden, the thing to make sure is it is indeed a groundhog and not another rodent. Most of them have similar dietary habits and can be mistaken for one another.
With easy to notice burrow openings, your garden would suffer conspicuous damage from the work of a groundhog.
Once it is established that it is indeed the handiwork of a groundhog, we can move on to the solutions tested and proven to work on the problem. There is nothing like a pungent, stinky smell to drive away a rodent, especially groundhogs.
The scent of garlic, castor oil, cayenne pepper, and lavender are some that the woodchuck just can’t stand. Sprinkling these around their burrow holes or filling them in the tunnels is sure to send them packing in no time.
The process of fumigation, trapping, flooding, and creating vibrations in the ground are some of the other ways to drive them out of their tunnels.
Considering their fear of humans and predators like coyotes, wolves, foxes, and bobcats, scattering their hair around their burrows can also scare them away for good.
Plug those holes
Having successfully chased away the woodchucks, it is now finally time to fill those burrows and tunnels to keep them from being used again. This can be done by simply stuffing those underground dens with ‘Tunnel Fill’ or a mixture of gravel and soil.
To make the solution durable, though, it might be a better idea to fill the holes with some of those pungent smells before sealing them shut. Adding substances like ammonia and castor oil to the filling mixture can make it more effective.
Castor oil, easily available in most homes, has long been considered a potent natural repellent. It even features on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources list as a proven efficacious method of groundhog control.
Burying a panel of welded wire over the filled entrance hole can prevent abandoned dens from being rediscovered.
How to keep them away?
Driving them away once doesn’t secure you from being troubled again. You need to devise more durable solutions to protect your garden from groundhogs and other rodents.
The use of fencing wire is a simple, popular, long-term deterrent. Planting your garden with lavender or garlic can also ward off any rodents looking to move into your backyard.
Although the problem may seem to be cut out for a professional, with these tried and tested natural remedies and some effort, it is nothing you can’t take care of yourself. Use these simple, do-it-yourself, effective home remedies to drive away those burrowing rodents from your precious gardens for good.