What's In This Article
Groundhogs are probably best known for popping out of their burrows (or not) at the start of February, and supposedly indicating a shorter or longer summer.
And if we only saw the groundhog one February day, they wouldn’t be such a pest.
But as a burrowing animal with a big appetite, the groundhog is a nightmare for many backyards.
Groundhogs digging under sheds not only ruin the look of a yard, but can also threaten the safety of the foundations.
Take a look at our groundhog prevention methods. These will get groundhogs out of the yard, and keep them away for good.
How To Recognize Groundhogs In Your Garden
Ruined planting, upturned vegetables, and a number of suspicious holes in the yard are all typical signs of the groundhog.
But how do you know exactly which pest is causing the problem?
Groundhogs are rodents, and a member of the marmot family. They’re large, with some growing up to two feet long, and weighing close to thirteen pounds.
They love to burrow, making homes underground in wooded areas.
Groundhogs are diurnal, meaning they’re out during the day. They’re also at their most active in the summer.
If you’ve noticed your warm summer days are plagued by holes, burrows, and messed up planting, then you might have a groundhog.
Keep an eye out, and you should eventually spot the large, brown groundhog.
How To Tell If You Have Groundhogs Or Woodchucks
If you’re trying to solve a groundhog problem, you might come across a lot of advice and products aimed at woodchucks (and vice versa).
Groundhogs and woodchucks are the same creatures. You might also hear them referred to as chucks, groundpigs, thickwood badgers, or whistlepigs.
They’re all the same animal, and they’re all a nuisance to your backyard.
If you’re thinking a woodchuck might be attracted to your lovely wooden shed, then you might be surprised to learn the name has nothing to do with wood at all.
“Woodchuck” is a variation on “Wuchak”, a Native American term for the animal. Over time, it evolved from wuchak to woodchuck. No wood or chucking involved!
Can Groundhogs Be Dangerous?
In most cases, groundhogs are a nuisance, but not a danger.
They like to destroy your planting and leave ugly holes across the yard, but they rarely pose any sort of physical threat.
Although, looking out the window to another fresh groundhog hole can be a serious threat to the blood pressure.
Groundhog attacks are rare, but not impossible. If a groundhog feels threatened and has nowhere to hide, it might lash out.
Groundhogs form close bonds with their young, and might attack in protection.
Groundhogs are also potential carriers of rabies. If a groundhog is in your yard, avoid close contact.
It’s likely the groundhog will try and keep away from you as well.
Although groundhogs might not pose an immediate physical threat, their presence might still lead to an injury.
As mentioned above, they love to dig up plants and leave nasty holes behind. A hole running underneath a shed might leave structural damage and potentially result in a collapse.
And while the main entrance of a groundhog tunnel is typically easy to spot, secondary entrances are easier to overlook. A misplaced footstep could result in a badly injured leg.
Groundhogs might not pose much of a physical threat, but they’re still a nuisance to get rid of.
So, what should you do about groundhogs? First off, don’t panic.
There are several ways to get rid of groundhogs, and most of them are cheap and effective.
How To Keep Groundhogs From Digging Under Your Shed
Use A Humane Trap
A humane trap is often the most popular method of removing burrowing groundhogs. These traps are designed to catch groundhogs without harming them.
Once caught, they’ll be relocated to a new home where they shouldn’t bother anyone.
Trapping and releasing is typically the most effective method because it completely removes the groundhog from the area.
Then, you can work on groundhog-proofing the yard. However, trapping and releasing is rarely easy.
Always wear gloves when handling the trap, so none of your smell has transferred.
If a groundhog can smell you on the trap, they’ll recognize it as a threat. Place the trap between 5 and 10 feet of the burrow.
Disguise the trap using leaves, dirt, and twigs, including a few inside the trap. Place something heavy on top of the trap to avoid it falling over.
Bait the trap. Groundhogs like juicy fresh fruits and salad greens like lettuce and cucumber.
Place the bait at the very back of the trap, so the groundhog has to get all the way in. You might want to leave a small trail leading up to the trap, to encourage the groundhog.
With the trap set, make sure to check back regularly. Once the groundhog has been caught, you want to deal with it as soon as possible.
Otherwise, it might get scared, and injure itself. You also want to check that nothing else has been caught in the trap. For example; your neighbor’s pet cat.
With the groundhog caught, it’s time to remove and release. Wear thick gloves, and cover the trap with a blanket. When carrying, keep the trap away from the body.
Drive at least 5 miles away, and to a wooded area. Release the groundhog, and move away quickly.
Relocating wild animals is illegal in several states, so check your local laws before using this method.
Create Ground Vibrations
One of the best ways to get rid of groundhogs is just to annoy them away. Groundhogs don’t like the feel of vibrations in the ground.
If they happen regularly enough, it can encourage a groundhog to look for somewhere else to live.
An easy method for doing this is purchasing a sonic repeller.
This will send out a regular sonic pulse and vibration, irritating away any pests that might try and disturb your yard.
A good choice is the BANNA Solar Sonic Mole Repellent. A solar-powered sonic repellent, it simply needs to be stuck in the ground and left to do its work.
Other choices are windmills and pinwheels. These might not seem particularly annoying to us, but the underground vibrations they cause can send groundhogs scampering away.
Wind chimes are another good option. The combination of noise and movement coming from your yard might make groundhogs look for somewhere else to call home.
These vibrations are a fantastic way to keep groundhogs from your shed.
With the sonic repellent installed, there’s nothing more you need to do. They’re non-obtrusive, and with a pack of four, you can guard every corner of the shed.
Pour Ammonia Or Castor Oil
Pouring ammonia or castor oil down the groundhogs’ tunnels can be a very effective method for driving them away from the shed.
Groundhogs hate the smell of both ammonia and castor oil, and will vacate a burrow that’s filled with the odor.
Ammonia can burn the skin, so make sure to wear gloves when handling. Dilute it with three parts water to one part ammonia, and add a squirt of dish soap to help spread the smell.
Castor oil can be used as is, or try mixing it in with the ammonia solution.
Be careful when using ammonia, and never mix it with bleach or chlorine. This creates a toxic gas that’s dangerous to humans.
Make sure the groundhogs are out of the burrow before pouring your solution. Otherwise, the bad smells might trap them inside.
Spray some around all the entrances to the burrow, to immediately stop them from returning.
This method can drive the groundhog away completely, or cause them to temporarily relocate.
With the groundhogs gone, you can install chicken wire to keep them out.
Scatter Human Hair
It might not seem like it as they’re pawing under your shed, but groundhogs are very afraid of humans.
And while you don’t have time for a constant look out, you can use that fear to scare the groundhogs away.
Scatter human hair around the area, and they’ll think twice before digging there again.
For a longer lasting solution, gather some hair in a fine mesh bag, and stake it to the ground at the entrance of the burrow.
Throw some hair down the hole while you’re at it. Groundhogs will think humans have been sniffing around their home, and find a safer place to live.
Get A Pet
Humans aren’t the only thing that groundhogs are scared of. They also hate common household pets such as cats and dogs.
These are seen as predators and threats, and sometimes their presence in the home is enough to frighten off groundhogs.
Otherwise, use animal urine or hair to scare off groundhogs. Kitty litter is a good choice because it’s easy to collect and distribute.
(And if you have a cat, you have a permanent source of pest repellent.) Scatter the fur or urine across the garden, and near the entrance to the groundhogs home.
If you don’t have a pet, and you don’t want a pet, there are still some ways this method can work for you.
You can either ask a nonjudgmental neighbor for some spare used kitty litter, or you can purchase coyote urine.
Coyote and other predator urine is sold from respected home and garden stores, and the strong smell can send groundhogs running.
Try Garlic Or Pepper
Garlic and pepper are a seasoning duo that boost tasty meals, and are an effective way to keep groundhogs from the yard.
Groundhogs hate strong smells, and a powerful enough odor can be enough to keep them away from the garden.
Crushed garlic, scattered around the yard, will repulse the sensitive nose of the groundhog, and have them looking somewhere else to burrow.
If the issue is groundhogs digging under your shed, then you might want to avoid smelly garlic in your work space.
In that case, consider using pepper instead. The scent is weak to the human nose, while upsetting a groundhog’s sense of smell.
Mix a spoonful of cayenne pepper with a quart of water, and spray around the burrow and near to your planting.
As well as an off-putting smell, groundhogs hate spice. Reapply daily to keep the groundhogs away.
The best part about using pepper or garlic? It won’t harm plants or soil.
So if you’ve got some planting you don’t want disturbed, sprinkle on some garlic or pepper to deter groundhogs.
Sprinkle Talcum Powder Near Your Planting (Or Epsom Salts)
Talcum powder isn’t just a great way to clean up after a shower. It’s also a natural deterrent against pests. Sprinkling talcum powder around the garden will help keep groundhogs away.
As with garlic and pepper, the smell of talcum powder is too much for the groundhog.
Talcum powder over your planting is non-toxic, and a natural deterrent.
However, while it might keep the groundhogs from causing havoc, it won’t always convince them to leave their burrows under the shed.
Combine this method with others, to keep the groundhogs away.
Another common household product that can keep groundhogs from digging is Epsom salt.
Sprinkle the salt near the entrance to one of their burrows, and the groundhogs should stay away.
Or fill a pie tin with Epsom salts, and leave it near your planting or shed. Replace the salt after rain.
Plant Blood Meal
Blood meal is a two-for-one groundhog repellent. Not only does the smell stop groundhogs from burrowing, but the blood meal itself works as a plant fertilizer.
Mix blood meal in with your soil to encourage healthy growth and make sure the groundhogs stop visiting.
Blood meal is made from dried animal blood, and improves the level of nitrogen in the soil. With extra nitrogen, many types of plants grow lush and green.
If you’re struggling with groundhogs digging under the shed, consider incorporating blood meal into the soil in this area.
Groundhogs are mostly herbivores, and the smell of blood meal will turn them away. However, it is thought that in some cases, blood meal can attract unwanted visitors.
As it typically comes from cows, blood meal might appeal to carnivorous pests such as raccoons and possums.
Buy Animal Repellent
It is possible to effectively get rid of groundhogs without having to make any extra purchases.
Garlic, talcum powder, and human hair can keep groundhogs from burrowing, and are common in the household.
But if you’re finding that these homemade solutions aren’t making a difference, you may prefer a commercial animal repellent.
We recommend trying I Must Garden Deer, Rabbit, and Groundhog Repellent, or Rabbit Out Rabbit & Groundhog Repellent. Or head on over to your local hardware store, and see what they have in stock.
Simply follow the instructions on the product, and apply to the garden.
Install A Barrier
Once you’ve successfully scared away the groundhogs, use a barrier to keep them away.
A deep fence, chicken wire, and hardware cloth can be used together to form an effective blockade This will keep the groundhogs out of the garden, and keep them from digging under the shed.
To keep groundhogs away, it’s recommended to install a fence that’s at least 3 feet high, and 12 inches below ground.
Spray the fence periodically with a mixture of ammonia and water, or cayenne pepper and water.
Chicken wire and hardware cloth can be used around planting, or underneath your fence. As with the fence, make sure they’re buried at least one foot underground.
The deeper, the better. Bury in an L-shape, with the bottom pointing away from the garden.
This way, when the groundhogs approach, they’ll reach the barrier, and be forced to turn around.
Before installing your barriers, make sure there are no groundhogs currently in the burrows.
Use the above methods to scare them away for as long as possible, and then get to work keeping them away for good.
Build A Yard That Keeps Them Out
If you want to keep groundhogs away permanently, build a garden that doesn’t allow them access.
Many of the above methods require plenty of reapplication to scare off groundhogs, and can’t always deter a groundhog that has chosen under your shed as the best place to burrow.
Begin by installing a deep fence, and using chicken wire or hardware cloth in strategic areas to block the groundhogs’ access.
Next, make sure the yard is well maintained. Long grass, overgrown shrubs and trees, and even piles of leaves are all appealing to groundhogs.
They provide a safe space for the groundhog to retreat to when they feel threatened.
Strategic planting can also keep groundhogs away.
Strong fragrances such as lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, chives, and oregano are all off-putting. Grow these around the shed.
Finally, install some sonic vibrating devices. Choose ones that work using solar power.
Then, you simply have to stake them into the ground, and let them do the job.
Why We Don’t Recommend Lethal Traps
Not every state allows for the trap and release of animals, but we don’t recommend using lethal traps to solve the problem.
Lethal traps are not only inhumane, but they can also cause several problems.
A lethal trap won’t always kill. In some cases, they only injure. You’re then stuck with an angry groundhog that’s more likely to attack.
And if the trap does kill, you then have a dead groundhog to deal with. They can be very difficult to dispose of correctly.
A lethal trap also risks injuring another animal, or even a person. If you have pets or children, they can get caught in the trap.
With so many household items working as a groundhog repellent, there’s no reason to use a lethal trap.
When To Call A Professional?
Many of us choose to deal with backyard pests ourselves, rather than paying for an expensive professional service.
However, if you’re dealing with a particularly aggressive groundhog, it’s better to let professionals take control of removal.
Groundhogs are a nuisance, and their numerous burrows and holes can damage the structural integrity of the shed.
Use bad smells to drive the groundhog away, and then install fencing and wire to keep them out for good.
With some strategic planting and sonic devices, you can create a yard that groundhogs avoid.