5 Natural Ways To Get Rid of Groundhogs (Without Harming Them)

Good news! There are many ways to safely deter these pesky marmots using common items around your home and garden. No toxic chemicals!

Groundhog Day is here (it’s February 2), and now the question people ask us most is not what the groundhog predicts but “how do I get rid of them from my lawn?”

About Groundhogs

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, “whistle pigs,” or marmots, are rodents that can do a lot of damage to your lawns and gardens.  Because they are excellent diggers (their dens can be extensive tunnel systems containing chambers, hallways, and multiple exits), they can weaken the soil, resulting in damage to foundations, barns, and farm equipment, as well as cause possible injuries to livestock. And since groundhogs are herbivores, they enjoy making a meal on the plants in your garden, so all that hard work you put into it can be decimated in a single afternoon. They certainly make a nuisance of themselves.

So what can you do? If you don’t own a dog, or you’re not comfortable trapping and releasing* (or don’t have the means to), consult our list of 5 effective, natural remedies to help keep them out, below. These ideas won’t harm the environment, family pets, or the groundhogs themselves.

Two Key Things To Remember About Groundhogs

First, it’s important to know that prevention is very important when it comes to any rodent infestations. Try to identify and remove what they’re attracted to in your yard; for example, the fruit from apple trees, compost piles that contain fruit like melons (their favorite!), or woodpiles. Consider a covered compost bin. And try to harvest your garden and pick up any fallen fruit often.

Additionally, knowing the groundhog’s habits is key. The time when they emerge from their post-winter dens will differ depending on where you live (despite what you hear, most groundhogs are hibernating on February 2nd and are not popping up to see their shadows), and they’re active during the day. Spring is when they start mating so they’ll be very active during this time.

5 Natural Ways To Get Rid of Groundhogs

1. Epsom Salts

Epsom salts sprinkled near or around the burrow entrances or exits will keep the groundhog away. If your plants are being eaten, try placing a tin pie plate filled with the salts near the plants. Replace after a rain.

2. Castor Oil

beans and castor oil on the black table

Castor oil poured in and around the burrow holes can be an effective way to discourage them (they hate the smell) but apply only when you know they’re not there, otherwise, they’ll just stay burrowed. You’ll have to keep vigil to see when they head out to find food.

3. Human Hair Clippings

hair clippings being swept up at the barber

Clippings from your local barber or hairdresser can also work well because they dislike the scent of humans. Sprinkle clippings around areas where the groundhog frequents. Or to avoid it blowing away in the wind, place clippings in a fine mesh bag and secure it to a stake near the groundhog’s dwelling.

4. Soiled Kitty Litter

Kitty litter (used) poured around one of the den holes (but not the other) is also effective as it smells like a predator. Leaving one exit hole scent-free allows them to escape rather than stay burrowed.

5. Offensive Scents

fresh garlic crushed by garlic crusher on white dish on kitchen table top use for food spice and ingredient healthy topic

There are certain smells groundhogs absolutely detest. If you can ensure these smells are present near their burrows and around the garden, you may be able to send them packing:

  • Cayenne pepper – Our Farmers’ Almanac readers swear by this method: Simply pour cayenne pepper close to the groundhog’s holes. Buy a large container (bulk size) so you can create a small pile. When it rains or is windy, you’ll have to reapply. It’s actually the smell and the heat they don’t like. You can also spray tender plants with a mixture of 2 teaspoons cayenne with one quart of water to deter them from nibbling.
  • Garlic – Crush some garlic cloves and spread the paste around areas of the garden you want groundhogs to avoid. Their sensitive noses can’t handle the pungent smell.
  • Lavender – Try planting some lavender around the garden. While it smells lovely to us, groundhogs find it offensive and avoid the areas where it is. They also dislike the smell of these herbs: basil, chives, lemon balm, mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

Fun Fact: Groundhogs are the largest member of the squirrel family.

Wonder why groundhogs are known as “whistle pigs”?  Listen to the sound they make in this video clip (you may have thought you were hearing a bird!):

*Always check with your state wildlife agency before relocating any animals from your property. There may be laws in your area prohibiting you from doing so. Relocating groundhogs is illegal in some states due, in part, to fears of spreading rabies. You might want to check with them about what a safe distance is, depending on where you live.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Interested in becoming a guest author? Contact us to let us know!

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A Girl & Her Dog

Okay… so the cat litter thing does actually work. We’ve used it several times where they’ve never come back to the holes, but I think it’s dependent on the size or extent of the hole. And we’re not talking a single scooped litter box… we’re talking a couple of weeks worth dumped into one hole. they definitely left, but eventually we filled in with dirt which apparently gave them the green light to try again. same spot just directly past where the litter had been dumped so they could have the same tunnels I suppose. They will claim and reclaim old holes made from any animal. We’ve had them kick foxes out of their dens so they could take the hole over. FYI- Foxes do not mess with groundhogs…

Sandi Duncan

Thanks for sharing. We have some pesky groundhogs here too and the cat litter didn’t work but that’s because we weren’t diligent in putting it in the hole. Thanks for the tip. Running outside right now to try it!

Nobody Particular

Like illegal immigrants, the only way to get rid of them is to exterminate them. Otherwise they produce anchor babies and demand more rights than birthright citizens. Just kill them all by any means available. End of infestation.


How do you kill them?

Someone inParticular

Just can’t hold back the racism, can ya. it’s just dying to get out.

inb4 “i’m not racist” when essentially saying “let’s shoot the brown people.” screw off lol

Ghost Who Walks

Don’t release groundhogs. Compost them.


I have found that a 22 or bigger Works best

Tammy Lynn Murray

My parents killed them and cooked them for dinner………..


They are a pain in the back Side


ground hogs These remedies do NOT WORK . USE EVERYONE and ground came out and LAID ON EACH ONE THAT WAS PUTOUT . THAT IS NO LIE !


Animals should not be killed, just because they are trying to survive. Humans are not the only species that live on our planet or deserve to live,


Well the one under my garage keeps charging out after my son and even charges my dog. He’s got to go. Waiting on the trapper now.

Rebecca Dugas

Never just one.

Ann M Murrell

Well let them go live in the woods and not under my shed ! I’m ready to kill

l t

Permanent solutions are the only way to deal with groundhogs. If you can’t shoot in your area, try gas bombs from your local farm supply store. Groundhogs cause major damage to buildings which can result in hundreds of dollars to repair. You can also lose livestock from broken legs from their holes in or near fence lines. Trapping and releasing them to another area is irresponsible because your dumping your problem on other people…not cool!


Had garlic and lavender growing right by my tomatoes, that didn’t work, they crawled up the tomatoes cages and destroyed every one. Only way I have kept them at bay is with welded wire completely covering my garden beds.




For a permanent solution if you can get close enough with your car. Run a hose from the exhaust into the hole. The co2 being heavier than air will settle into the lower areas of the tunnels and kill them.

Ghost Who Walks

Please don’t trivialize the Holocaust.


I’m new to this groundhogs issue. I say him for the first time yesterday when I discovered that my morning glories were eaten. I appreciate any ideas.

Herbert B

I have been reading numerous articles on what the Whistle Pig hates, most suggest human urine. I am going to try the cat litter first and think hard on the urine.


Have a hearts with apple, peanut butter and honey – they love it then bring to a field with forest and old stone walls


Caught squirrels no chucky

Linda Luce

One keeps digging under my neighbors fence and into my yard so I mixed clove essential oils with water after I filled the hole. It stayed away for a month so I am going to use it again.


The only thing that will get rid of them is a .22 caliber.


I can’t shoot in the city where I live. Besides, I’d just rather it go away. I don’t want to shoot an animal that no one is going to eat.

MarySue Daughtergurl

They’re good eatin

Chris F

No they are not good eating –unless you are starving.

Michele Hickman

I’ve tried mothballs and mothball flakes. They just bury them with dort. I tried pouring hot sauce down the hole. We’ve tried trap and release. I might as well get paid doing that for people. It worked as we had property 20 miles away. Didn’t last long. We fell like marking them somehow to see if they’re making it back here 🙄 They are a huge pain! They are underneath the back part of the house, the kitchen. I don’t want them to get in!!! Their burrows go under the road across the street into our crop.😡we plant and harvest soy beans, turnips and sometimes corn. We rotate the crops to keep the soil fresh, fertile. Oh yeah, their cute little burrows allow snakes in. An extra bonus, RIGHT??!!?? I HATE them so much but love the quiet country living. Good luck getting a rid of them everybody!!👏👏👏👏🦛🦛🦛


try ammonia down the holes also liming your yard with agricultural lime helps (note BAD for pet paws–it burns them)


one other issue–other groundhogs can smell groundhog burrows for months so removing the current resident means other nearby groundhogs will be attracted to the existing burrows once they are empty (no groundhog to protect the territory means others will move in so keep adding ammonia every month to the holes)–to start use at least a quart down each hole)


Do not use mothballs outdoors, they do not repel rodents or snakes and are extremely toxic to the environment, its also illegal to do so in most places.


I live in the city I have had a gardon for years last years gardon was awful this year all is doing very well corn pole green beans and cucumbers there and corn is a very large groundhog that comes threw my numbers fence well he slides under the fence to get into my yard then he eats my grass I caught him today around 10 am or so coming up to my flower garden the seen him about to climb my fence to get into my garden I opened my door and yelled at him three times then he scurried away I have dogs I think he waits for them not to be outside I have tried to put things up to the fence but has not helped its a plastic fence the neighbors I seen soiled cat litter on the list think I will try that one any other natural ideas to detur him from my yard?

Last edited 1 year ago by Teri

hot pepper (2teaspoons per quart water) sprayed on foliage will deter if you see holes pour ammonia down them


This article isn’t accurate. I have groundhogs living under my deck eating my chives, sage, and lemon balm, as well as nearly everything else. Those plants don’t deter them.


Oooooohh… Not fair!

Gravey Shakes

Agreed. They dig up and eat my garlic and onions. They dug under the foundation of my deck creating a huge issue. I mixed anomia and dish soap in a sprayer and sprayed between the boards and around the deck. They stick their heads out from under the deck to get fresh air but will not move out.


I have ground hog infestation and need to get rid of them permanently. I am planning to break small-broken-glass and mixing it with dirt – stuffing it down the burrow and watching them dig out. Will this cause enough bleeding and or infections to eliminate them permanently?

Susan Higgins

Bob, sorry, but that’s a terrible idea. Please call a wildlife professional after you have tried all our ideas.


Bad idea just cruel you’ll deal with suffering slow death and div under house area to die


That would smell awful, then you will be unable to get rid of the smell.

Patsy Mather

Inhumane and disgusting. They are living creatures.

Denise Ward

thank you 4 the info

Didi genest

Do squirrels eat apples? I’m trying to put out apples for the deer but can’t be sure who’s eating them. I know there are groundhogs too but I’m going to try the epsom salts for them


No they don’t. They just bite into them and watch it fall and move along to all the rest


I leave the apple cores out for the squirrels. They also eat all the apples that I leave on the ground under my apple trees.


Squirrels eat almost everything


I have seen a squirrel eating an apple! I have a picture of it.


I use them for target practice. Works great!

Benita McMullen

My yard is a mess I didn’t know they can climb trees also



Benita McMullen

I’m going crazy it’s bad my yard looks a mess


So I just scooped my cat box out all the poop and pee clumps into a bag and poured cayenne pepper and roasted garlic powder all over it then emptied the bag into the hole then I shoveled some dog poop in there and covered it with a mixture of dirt and rocks.. Wish me luck!!!

Mary Beth

Did it work Jennifer?


did it work?

Carl W Carvalho

Hope you haven’t’trapped’ them in their den, they will die and rot away leaving a horrible smell that will be around for a looong time! Best of luck with your situation!


Carl, you do know burrowing animals like this…well…erm…burrow? They won’t get trapped in their dens or tunnels if you block one way out…if you can find both exits and contaminate the holes, they will just make a detour and make another exit. The only way to get rid of burrowing animals is to get rid of them. Pouring used cat litter, etc down a hole just contaminates your yard. I know it is a ‘cruel’ thing to “kill” animals, but if it is between my garden where I am growing food for the year, or an animal that I don’t want to feed, then…that animal will go.


Instead of killing them (unless you are going to eat them), buy a HavaHeart trap, trap them and relocate them far away from your house.


Wildlife Control Must Be Done In A Humane Way

If you choose to remove wildlife yourself you could face animal cruelty charges if you use a trap improperly and injure wildlife in the process. Most jurisdictions have rules and regulations that govern the use of live-traps for humane wildlife services. It is important to do your research and be aware of these laws and abide by them or risk facing animal cruelty charges.

2. Capturing Non-Target Animals

When setting a trap there’s no guarantee that you’ll capture the animal you’re after. The bait you place inside the trap could attract other animals that have nothing to do with the wildlife issue you’re experiencing. Many homeowners attempting to trap raccoons on their property end up with skunk in their trap and risk getting sprayed trying to release the animal.

3. Trapped Wildlife Spreads Disease

Wild animals can be carriers of dangerous diseases, rabies chief among them. When homeowners trap and relocate wildlife they risk spreading diseases to locations where the disease didn’t exist before. Raccoons and skunks are both common carriers of rabies and are capable of transmitting the fatal disease to people and pets.

4.Relocating Wildlife Is Not Humane

Many homeowners are under the impression that wildlife trapped in cities are better off in the country. Nothing could be further from the truth as studies show that most relocated animals don’t survive in their new environment because they’re unfamiliar with where to find food and shelter. You could also relocate a mother which could lead to the deaths of her orphaned babies. Hardly a humane solution.

5. Humane Wildlife Control Also Dictates Releasing Trapped Animals Within 24 Hours

Captured animals should be released within 24 hours. This is because animals are vulnerable when in traps. Live trapping puts the animal through tons of stress and if left in them for a long time, they could die from dehydration and starvation. Similarly, they could also be seriously injured or die from trying to escape, frostbite or heat stroke or even other w

Ghost Who Walks

Kill them. If you don’t want to eat them, then compost them and eat whatever they nourish.


Will motion activated owls or something that glitters flutters flops or shakes do anything to help or will it just entertain the neighbor


Ground hogs are literally eating my front door and posts under my front deck! I’ve tried commercial products and set traps
They are huge and not very afraid of me! [email protected]


That is happening at my house right now too. What did you end up doing to get them to stop? I thought they were cute at first, but this is getting old quick!


I tried mothballs, seemed to work somewhat. They won’t go into a havaheart trap even with melon in it. Guess the one I have is “experienced”.


I could not get the melon to work either .. But they love cabbage, caught 3 of them with this


OH…OK…will give it a shot…thanks


Thanks I’ll try that. All my neighbors blame me because I have bird feeders. I’m very diligent about clean up and plan to get the seed catchers that go underneath. We live on the boarder of a woodlands.

Carl W Carvalho

Marcia that’s what I used and it really works well.


I try to trap them, I had lettuce, celery, Apple core, and carrots, I didn’t get a groundhog but I got a squirrel and the squirrel ate every single thing in there and then I read that groundhogs are in the squirrel family


try sunflower seeds, Iput the havaheart,cover some grass over the the steel andsprinkle sun flowers seed on the other side of it . I have removed 7 of then good luckshirl


tried sunflower seeds and caught a snunk!

Julie Spry

I catch them with a piece of bread sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar into the trap!

Pat Carson

Moth balls are a pesticide, and it is actually illegal to use them in a way other than specified on the packaging.

Darlene Eolliams

Well that was what I was going to try guess I won’t now


Thank you for the tips. We have a family with two baby groundhogs. When is a good time to start applying these methods so babies can successfully relocate too?

Joy Dorrell

I have a momma and six babies under a house – I already fenced and closed up all but one entrance. I have no clue how I can tell when they are not under neath . I need to figure out so I can fence up the last entrance. I dug down 18″ and put the fencing curled out then covered with dirt. The only thing I have been thinking is getting an air horn to scare them out so I can cover the last entrance. they are chewing on all the wires


They are crafty critters, make sure there isn’t another entrance somewhere else, even far away from the usual places you look. If they all leave the den, and you fence it up, they may continue to find ways to return to it by making other entrances. Over two years I cleaned out a woodchuck hotel under my garage by using a Hav A Heart trap and cantaloupe as bait, they love it. At least 13 critters.


Thanks for the information.


I’ll all of the items.

Kathleen Abbott

Thank you!!! Going to try the garlic and cayenne

winston ch

i used a trap and caught 4 ground hogs in 4 consecutive day,then i placed a news paper on the ground under a garbage bag and plced the trap with ground hog over it and covered him or her with blanket and placed all in my car over a blanket to keep my car clean and 5 miles later near a river and golf are -i hate golfing- released the ground hog .then covered all holes with soil and sprinkled some kerosin on the soil to give it bad smell. by the way ground hogs hate ammonia so i went to the dollar store and bought glass cleaner bottle about 3 leters- they contain ammonia and cheaper than buying real ammonia- one dollar and poured in the holes days before that i let them out but they came back at night and the trap was waiting job done very humanely


What kind of bait you used for the traps to catch the ground hogs?

Mary Beth

Cantaloupe apples cabbage


I poured ammonia all entrance didn’t phase them

Rebecca Dugas

Same here

winston ch

ground hogs hate kerosene smell

Donetta Price

Do you put the epsom salt (or other remedies) directly in the hole. I have one right under my bush coming out of my front door. I would like so much for it to go somewhere else. I see him peeking out or running straight for it as soon as i pull up.


I have a ground hog under my storage building, how can I get rid of him or her.


Under my shed

Ben Knows

Whenever dumping something in a critter hole, first soak a rag or push the rag down in the hole with broomstick. The liquid will soak into rag and last longer instead of soaking into dirt.


I had a groundhog (maybe 2) burrowing under my deck. When I was sure he/they weren’t home, I dumped a bottle of ammonia down the holes and filled them in best I could. There has been no activity there since, but they did move into the woods behind my house and still dine on my hostas. I don’t know where their burrow is now. Cayenne pepper seems to stop them from eating my new willow trees. If they are still a problem in the spring, I’ll trap and relocate them. I’ve heard sometimes more human activity in their vicinity will make them leave.


Cayenne pepper does not work neither does oregano or basil animal repellent is a waste of money I give up ! They can have the damn tomatoes !


It says in the bible to not pick all berries and veggie. leave some for scavengers too. Hehe


Lol my dad just pulled up his. They also was feasting on his green beans.


I have a groundhog in my back yard digging holes under my shed how do I get rid of it

Joyce Weaver

How do you control ground hog population? Humanely.

Nelson M. Gladden

I have the same problem


I had skunks under my shed. Called the skunk man to trap them than he dug all around the shed. He put chicken wire down all around the shed bringing it forward and down out about 8 inched. He than poured gravel all around and on top of the wire. No problem since. You need to get the out from under your buildings other wise the floor will fall in. Now I am fighting ground hogs in my garden.


I do not believe the lavender would work he dug his hole in my creeping phlox next to the lavender.


We get 15 or so groundhogs every year I get rid of them. They are active through spring and summer around where I live. Them things growl at you when caught for the size they move fast. I heard peppermint will get rid of them because of the smell it has to be in a liquid form.
The grocery store in the spice aisle you can find it. I started using it hopefully it will work. FACT people eat groundhogs can’t imagine how it would taste maybe with B.B.G sauce they might not taste too bad.


I have a groundhog named Tofu in my flower garden every day lately. I have 7 outside cats and he has just made friends with them; they all hang around together in the yard. One of them pooed right outside his hole but he didn’t care, so I don’t think the cat litter would work for me. I’m going to go with the garlic, cayenne and epsom salt methods. I’m not trying to get him to leave, just to stay out of the garden. I adore him.


Bless you. I don’t mind my groundhog, but he’s chewing on the wood walls of my porch.


Are you sure that you don’t have a porcupine? Never heard about groundhogs chewing wood.


Groundhogs DO chew wood. I have watched them chew at the window ledge outside my bedroom. Also chewed the leg of an outdoor chair. They are SUPER destructive. When accidentally trapped in my garage he chewed a giant hole in the wall and dug up the concrete under my garage door. We used an entire bag of quickcrete to repair.

Susan Higgins

Yes, that’s why they’re also known as woodchucks.


I have one that’s lived here before I did. I named him Sammy. When I see him out I say “Hi Sammy” and he runs away. He hasn’t bothered my garden but I use epsom salt in the garden so maybe that keeps him out. Last year I thought he was eating my sweet corn but turns out it was squirrels; I caught them in the act. I just leave him alone and he doesn’t bother anything. I like to watch him when he’s out.

David Orange

Someone told me to fill the hole with pea gravel. The can’t stand it and feel like they are sinking when digging through it and soon leave.

Sherrie D Pintal

One dug through my 3/4 inch gravel bed, right next to my rose bush


Groundhog is chewing holes in my grill cover on my deck. Why? Does anyone know how to discourage. Thanks


I keep seeing one under my car and the car that’s parked in my yard. I *really* don’t want him to decide to chew on wires, so I’m going to draw a circle around my parking spot with several of these suggestions. I hope it helps! Why? I want to know, too!


Thirteen hundred $$$ in repairs to car wires… chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, opossums and/or raccoons. I have issues with everything but skunks… so far, lol

Susan Higgins

Wow, Brenda, we’re sorry to hear. My car was totaled. A disaster.


We have 2 huskies and 1 huge groundhog problem. Will he be able to hurt my dogs or will they kill him?

Susan Higgins

Lisa, there’s a good chance the dogs will kill the groundhogs.


When I was growing up we had 2 dogs. They killed anything that came in the yard. They would corner it and kill it. I’ve had several woodchucks under my shed over the years. They always hide when the dog are out.


Smells the food previously cooked?

Spray cayenne pepper on your cover.

Ray Soliz

I live in South Texas. I have a bad problem during winter months. But spring and summer I don’t see big problem. Confused and fed up with pesty groundhogs. Every morning battle !!!

Lisa Joseph

I have a groundhog in my back yard. I have tried everything to get him out. Do anyone have any ideas


I have some living under my home and can heat them underneath the house in the downstairs bathroom. I can see one of their tunnels outside my bedroom window. I’m not sure when they are all out but what can I use to make them leave!

Susan Higgins

Hi Fran, give those remedies a try.


We had a groundhog getting in our garden last summer. It was eating tomatoes, cantaloupes, and watermelons. to be more precise, it would take a bite and move on to another. The watermelon and cantaloupes had holes in them from its long teeth. I saw it a few times but didn’t know what to do about it. While I was trying to figure something out, one of my cats spied it. Pixie chased the groundhog back to its hole. After her first sighting, she took to hanging out near the groundhog’s burrow and we didn’t have any more problems with the groundhog being in our garden. I’m not sure having a cat will always work, but it worked for us.


They actually sell pellets that smell like cat pee cats are supposed to be groundhogs predators It never worked for me, I trap mine every summer, most summers I get rid of at least 6, after I set the trap, I cover it with branches or bush clippings, works every time, I saw the mother groundhog check the cage with her pole she went all the way around the cage with her paws to make sure it was safe to go get the food she didn’t push on the door she went in and I got her.

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