Maintaining a garden is hard work! After all the hoeing, planting, weeding and piling on of organic fertilizers and organic pesticides, you have a wonderful garden to look at and look forward to tending. Unless, of course, the ground hogs have other ideas.
The Marota monax or groundhog (also known as the woodchuck) is a wild herbivore, which needs to eat a lot of plants in preparation for its annual hibernation. These diurnal animals are often seen from midday to early evening and are often the bane of area gardeners because they are a burrowing mammal. Keeping them out of your garden requires some work and careful preparation.
If you’re the type who likes to tackle the problem at the source, then you may need to hire a professional. Groundhogs are burrowing animals and their burrows can extend from 15 to 25 feet underground. There are several “rooms” in there and are naturally designed to withstand flooding so sticking a running hose at an opening will not solve your problem. Sealing one opening doesn’t solve the problem either as the groundhog can just burrow up from a different location.
To groundhog-proof your garden, simply follow the instructions below.
- Location. An underused tactic is to situate your garden in a place where there is little cover or concealment. Placing your garden several feet away from natural woods or hedges discourages groundhogs because they are averse to open spaces where their natural predators can pick them off.
- Fence the garden. Your first line of defense is always a fence. Make sure that you bury the posts at least two to three feet under the ground as groundhogs are burrowing animals. The post should be spaced at least two inches apart so that the groundhog doesn’t slip through the post to get to your plants. If you would like to save on posts and just enclose the garden with a wire mesh, make sure the mesh is buried at least three feet under the ground and is held in place with staples to discourage the groundhog from burrowing further.
- Plant flowers. Some flowers are natural repellents to the groundhog, plants like marigolds, snapdragons, dianthus, ageratum, nicotiana, and sweet alyssum. So you can plant these around the perimeter of your garden so not only is it visually pleasing, it’s also an anti-groundhog barrier.
- Household repellents. You can also use some household items to repel groundhogs like mothballs or ammonia. If you decide to go with this option, the mothballs and ammonia only offer minimal toxicity to plant life but are the equivalent to tear gas to groundhogs. Just situate the mothballs in strategic places around the garden and soak rags with ammonia and place them around the perimeter of the garden as well.
Keeping out a groundhog requires just as much work as it took to grow your garden. But if you look at your garden as an investment, then you won’t think twice on spending and working to keep the groundhogs out. Gardens are a thing of beauty and having a groundhog around could ruin it.