8 Ideas for How to Get Rid of Groundhogs

Humane options like scented herbal repellents may do the trick

How to Keep Groundhogs Out of Your Yard

The Spruce / Xiaojie Liu

If groundhogs are eating your garden, it's critical to learn how to get rid of groundhogs naturally and humanely. There are several homemade groundhog repellents and commercial products to try. They can get rid of groundhogs fast and keep them away from your yard.

Besides damaging plants, groundhogs can damage sheds, foundations, driveways, and retaining walls. They also might harm dogs if they get in a fight. And people can easily twist an ankle by stepping into a groundhog hole.

Here's what you need to know to identify whether you have a groundhog problem and, if so, how to get rid of groundhogs naturally and humanely.

What Do Groundhogs Look Like?

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks (Marmota monax), are rodents indigenous to the eastern United States. They are 16 to 22 inches, weigh between five and 13 pounds, featuring brownish-gray fur and a short tail. These four-legged creatures look similar to gophers or beavers in body shape.

They are most often found where a wooded area meets a clearing. Their burrows, where groundhogs spend most of their time, can be 50 feet long. Groundhogs hibernate in winter and do not stir from their burrows. The same den is used for mating (after hibernation ends) and raising young. A woodchuck burrow often has one main entrance and one emergency escape entrance or "spy hole" where the groundhog can check its surroundings. In summer and fall, the den is where groundhogs sleep at night and hide from predators.

Groundhogs do most of their eating in the early morning and early evening. They eat a wide variety of garden vegetables. And they can climb trees, so fruit on trees is also within reach.

Groundhog in profile walking on grass.

 Liu Track / Getty Images

A groundhog emerging from the ground.

Jenny Thompson / EyeEm / Getty Images

Groundhog in profile, with green grass in the background.
The groundhog is a medium-sized garden pest.

Anita Peeples / Getty Images

Signs of Groundhogs

Some good indicators of a groundhog's presence in your garden include:

  • A hole 10 to 12 inches wide in the ground or under an outdoor storage shed with mounds of dirt outside of it
  • A tomato with a good-sized bite taken out of it
  • The feathery tops of your carrots have been mowed down

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs 


Click Play to Learn the Best Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs

  1. Lay Down Kitty Litter (Most Effective)

    Cats are natural groundhog predators. Gardeners have had success using cat-urine-soaked kitty litter as a groundhog repellent. The urine smell works to drive away groundhogs. So if a groundhog detects their presence (via the urine-soaked kitty litter), it will think twice about remaining in the area.

    You'll have to reapply the kitty litter as the smell fades and it gets washed away. But it is a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to eliminate groundhogs.

  2. Try Epsom Salt

    Groundhogs hate the taste of Epsom salt. Epsom salt is one of the cheapest ways to eliminate groundhogs without harming them. It will work to drive away the groundhog if you sprinkle it around the perimeter of your garden. You also can sprinkle some near groundhog burrows to discourage them from remaining in the area. 

    While this is a natural and humane method to eliminate groundhogs, it will be an ongoing effort. You'll likely need to reapply the Epsom salt to ensure it's still effective after rainfall.

  3. Spray a Commercial Repellent

    Several commercial products are meant to eliminate groundhogs, which you can often purchase at farmers' supply stores. The repellents come in both granular and liquid forms. And they, too, must be reapplied periodically, especially after rain.

    Read the directions carefully because one product can be quite different from another. For example, most granular repellents are based on smell and typically are poured right into groundhog burrows and around the openings.

    The liquid repellents drive groundhogs away with their taste. Apply them around the garden but not directly onto edible crops because you won't like the taste.

  4. Set Up Motion-Detecting Water Sprinklers

    Motion-activated sprinklers are a humane and natural way to eliminate groundhogs quickly. After detecting motion, these devices turn on and spray water at the offender, causing it to flee. One such product is called the Scarecrow Sprinkler.

    The caveat is they don't only target groundhogs but anything—including people and pets—that moves in their vicinity. So you might not want to place one in a high-traffic area you use often. But they can be effectively positioned around the property's perimeter or around a vegetable garden to keep groundhogs and other critters out.

  5. Install Row Covers and Fencing

    If you're focused on protecting crops, floating row covers can help to keep out groundhogs and other critters. Likewise, fencing—such as chicken-wire fences—can provide a more permanent solution.

    However, be aware that groundhogs can climb over and tunnel under fences. To discourage the former, make fences 3 to 4 feet high and leave the top foot of the chicken wire unattached to the posts. Bend this uppermost foot outward.

    The University of Missouri Extension advises to foil tunneling attempts: "The buried portion of the fence should be bent at a 90-degree angle, 1 foot below the surface, with the bottom of the fence pointing away from the garden. This design discourages burrowing if it is started at the fence line."

  6. Trap and Relocate Them

    Live trapping is a humane way to get rid of groundhogs, as you can safely move them to an environment that's more suitable for them. However, it's best to consult with professional wildlife handlers if you want to trap a groundhog.

    In some places, relocation is illegal or must be done by a professional. Finding an appropriate relocation spot can also be tricky if you're unfamiliar with groundhogs. You don't want to move the animal somewhere inhospitable, resulting in death.

    Late winter to early spring is the best time for trapping groundhogs. The groundhogs won't yet have produced offspring for that year. And their food sources will be slim, so they'll be more likely to go for the bait in your trap.

    It's easier to locate burrows when the landscape is still relatively bare. If you're trapping at other times of the year, there are commercial products to help lure groundhogs into a trap if your food bait alone doesn't do the trick.

  7. Get Rid of Groundhog Nests

    Seal off uninhabited burrows to discourage groundhogs from taking residence. But first, make sure the inhabitants are gone. According to the Humane Society, July to September is a good time to seal off a burrow. Late winter to early summer is usually the breeding season, so evicting groundhogs with babies can be inhumane.

  8. Use Natural Scent of Herbs and Spices

    Groundhogs have sensitive noses, so use that to your advantage. Groundhogs detest the scent of garlic, lavender, basil, chives, lemon balm, mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. They do not like the smell and sting of cayenne pepper. These natural substances are a great deterrent when planted in your garden or sprinkled around plants you want to protect from nibbling groundhogs.

What Attracts Groundhogs to Your Lawn?

Groundhogs are coming to your lawn because you likely have a food source in the way of a yummy fruit or vegetable garden, and you likely don't have many predators scaring them away. Here are many possible causes of your groundhog problem:

  • A garden or yard with fresh fruits, vegetables, dandelions, or clover provides food
  • Tall grasses or overgrowth give them cover
  • Prior existing burrows on your property are easy hideaways
  • Few predators; no cats or dogs to scare them away
  • Groundhogs like wood piles to use for teeth grinding

How to Prevent Groundhogs

You must remove environments they like to reduce the chances of attracting groundhogs to your property. Get rid of tall grasses and weeds, overgrown shrubs, and brush piles. These often serve as hideouts for groundhogs.


Vinegar is pungent and offends a groundhog's sense of smell. Apple cider vinegar is an even stronger offensive odor than white vinegar. It also repels squirrels, deer, dogs, cats, rabbits, and raccoons and won't harm them—only get them running the other way.

Moreover, groundhogs like to eat dandelions and clover, so keep your yard free of these common lawn weeds. As rodents, groundhogs need to chew to grind their continually growing teeth. So removing any tree stumps or other old wood is another way to make the environment less hospitable for them.

It's also helpful to plug groundhog holes to encourage their inhabitants to move and to prevent others from taking up residence. Plug groundhog holes with crushed stone. A groundhog can easily remake the hole if you fill them with dirt.

How Not to Get Rid of Groundhogs

Since many humane options exist, killing is the last resort when dealing with a nuisance groundhog. Not only is it unpleasant, but you also have to consider the disposal of its carcass or risk attracting other unwanted animals.

Poison is a slow and painful death. It also runs the risk of domestic pets and sometimes even children consuming the poison bait. Lethal traps are discouraged since they can inadvertently trap many other types of animals, including household pets like cats. Other cruel methods include using ammonia gas to fumigate the critters out of their holes or spreading agricultural lime around their holes, burning their feet.

  • What is a homemade groundhog repellent?

    Castor oil (1/2 cup) mixed with two cups of water is another natural repellent. The smell repulses groundhogs, so spray it in and around the burrow entrance and exit holes.

  • Do coyote, fox, or dog urine repellents work against groundhogs?

    Coyote, fox, and dogs are natural predators, so using those repellents have been effective against groundhogs. Similarly, they fear cats, so using kitty litter is a good way to keep groundhogs away.

  • When is the best time to get rid of groundhogs?

    The best time to deal with a groundhog situation is from July to September. These rodents hibernate in the winter and breed in spring. Send them packing after their young have left the nest.

  • What predators keep groundhogs away?

    Hawks, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, dogs, and humans are a groundhog's worse enemy. Scarecrows are another helpful deterrent.

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  1. Groundhogs Burrowing in Your Yard. Toronto Wildlife Centre.

  2. Managing Woodchuck Problems in Missouri. University of Missouri Extension.