How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Probably not much. That’s because woodchucks, also known as groundhogs or whistle pigs, prefer fruits and veggies, though they also eat tree bark. Each of these herbivores can eat up to a pound and a half of vegetation every single day, meaning a couple of them can eat through an entire garden (your garden) in less than 24 hours.
True, groundhogs hibernate during the colder months, but they awaken with a voracious appetite that lasts until the frost returns in the fall. What’s more, they love to burrow, and can demolish lawns, flower beds, and vegetable gardens with swift ease.
Here are some signs that groundhogs have invaded your yard or garden:
- Wide teeth marks on plants, fruit, and bark
- Burrow entrances next to piles of dirt
- Deep burrow holes in the lawn
- Tracks in the dirt that show 4 clawed toes on the front paws and 5 on the back
Here are 5 simple tactics for keeping groundhogs out of your yard and garden – and keeping your garden harvest for yourself.
1. Reduce their food supply.
One simple way to discourage groundhogs is to harvest your garden often. Their favorite foods include young, tender greens like lettuce and cabbage, as well as cantaloupes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and corn. Pick them as soon as they’re ripe instead of leaving them in the garden for a few days.
2. Keep the garden neat.
Groundhogs like to camouflage the entrances and exits to their burrows, so remove potential hiding places by pulling weeds, keeping grass trimmed, picking up sticks, and clearing brush piles.
3. Repel them.
Groundhogs tend to avoid flavors and scents that they don’t like, which is what makes essential oils-based Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use and Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Granules so effective. Apply one of these rain-resistant repellents to leaves, stems, and flowers (they can be used on edibles), or to the ground around the plants. Be sure to follow label directions.
4. Block them out.
Surround your garden or yard with wire fencing that is at least 3 feet tall and goes at least 12 inches underground. Groundhogs won’t be able to climb it, and if they run into it underground, they’ll be forced to stop tunneling and to go elsewhere to set up camp. For best results, create a bracket shape by bending both the top and bottom of the fence to 90 degree angles toward the outside of the yard or garden.
5. Live trap with caution…or leave it to the pros.
Catching and releasing a groundhog is tricky and can stress out the animal if done incorrectly. If you’ve reached this point of last resort and are unsure of how to trap the animal yourself, call an animal control professional.