Discover the Most Effective Homemade Groundhog Repellents

Written by Gerald Dlubala
Updated: October 27, 2023
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It can seem like a full-time job when you set out to discover the most effective groundhog repellant. What works for one may not work for another, especially when it’s a homemade groundhog repellant. But finding a way to get rid of the pesky groundhog, also referred to as woodchuck, whistle pig, and marmot, is well worth your time.

Groundhogs are professional diggers who construct extensive dens and tunnel systems that can rival the finest ranch home in the neighborhood. Their underground living quarters contain unique chambers with hallways and multiple exits. This extensive network of pathways weakens the soil, damages the foundation of nearby structures, and causes sinkholes that can lead to damage or injury.

Yellow-bellied marmot

Groundhog burrows can feature chambers, hallways, and multiple entrances and exits.

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You May Be Unknowingly Inviting Groundhogs to Your Home

The best way to keep groundhogs away from your home is to not encourage their presence. But you may be inviting them to party in your yard without even knowing it. Groundhogs like living in areas that serve their basic needs, meaning food and shelter. A diet of flowers, vegetables, tree bark, discarded sticks and twigs, and new plant seedlings serves the groundhog well.

You may be able to see these food sources just by looking out of your back door. Your garden or compost pile is just a big buffet for a wary groundhog looking for a home. And if you notice large holes, tunnels, and nibbled crops and flowers around your yard, you may already have a groundhog in your area.

Compost bin in the garden

Open, uncovered compost piles are invitations for groundhogs and other garden pests.

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Repelling Groundhogs Begins With Property Maintainance

The saying is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that certainly applies to groundhogs. So it’s important to deter them from setting up residence in your yard before you actually have a problem.

Groundhogs aren’t picky when it comes to nest construction. It’s wise to maintain your yard so that there isn’t an overabundance of leaves, twigs, scrap wood, or any type of garbage that may be of interest to a groundhog or other rodent.

Fill, cover, or block any potential holes or nesting spots in or around foundations with dirt, rock, or sturdy wire screening. Promptly remove fallen or rotting fruits, including peaches, pears, apples, or melons, a groundhog’s favorite food.

Keep compost bins covered to deter groundhogs and other wildlife from easy access to an open food source. Unfortunately, even with all of these tips, you may see signs of a groundhog nesting on your property. Following are some of the most effective homemade and DIY groundhog repellants to consider when it’s time to take action.

Crack Near Corner of Foundation, foundation issues on a residential property, corner crack of a foundation

Property maintenance is critical to deterring pests from setting up residence in your area.

©Jasmine Sahin/Shutterstock.com

The Most Effective Homemade Groundhog Repellants

But what if you already have a groundhog? With persistence and the following homemade groundhog repellants, you might be able to get the critter to pack up and find a new place to call home.

  • Blood Meal. Blood meal has a pungent, distinct aroma that groundhogs do not like, making it a very effective repellant. Groundhogs tend to stay away from areas treated with blood meal. Repeated sprinklings around the perimeter of your garden and near entrances to their burrows may be necessary.
  • Garlic. Groundhogs have sensitive noses. They do not handle the pungent aromas, like those of garlic, well. Smashing garlic cloves into a pasty consistency and spreading them around garden areas and burrow entrances can make groundhogs avoid the area.
  • Cayenne Pepper. Cayenne pepper has long been touted as a viable pest repellant. Use it in its ground form to construct mounds of cayenne pepper near suspected groundhog holes. Additionally, use it in a foliar spray, making a solution of 2 teaspoons of cayenne powder and 1 quart of water. Apply to susceptible plants, repeating as necessary.
  • Lavender. Surprisingly, the pleasing aroma that we take in from lavender is equally unappealing to groundhogs. Plant lavender around your house and garden to make the area less appealing to the wandering groundhog.
garlic powder Ground garlic in a plate and cloves on a wooden background

Garlic and other pungent aromatics are offensive to the groundhog’s sensitive nose.

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Additional Groundhog Repellant Suggestions

  • Predator Urine. Yes, you read that right. Animals have a natural flight response when they sense that a predator may be nearby. Although you can purchase a wide variety of predator urines to ward off various yard and garden pests, you may have a comparable solution right in your own home. Used cat litter is effective in driving groundhogs away from your garden. Simply pour used cat litter around the entrance to the groundhog hole, making sure to leave one entrance open so the animal can leave. Otherwise, they will just stay in their burrow until the perceived threat is gone.
  • Castor Oil. Groundhogs hate the smell of castor oil. Pouring it in and around their burrow entrances and exits keeps them away. Similar to using predator urines, you have to leave one exit hole open for them to escape. If you know that there is no groundhog present in the burrow at the time, saturate all entrance holes with castor oil to deter their return.
  • Human Hair Clippings. Do you know a hairdresser? Perhaps you can ask your hairdresser for your hair clippings at your next appointment. Rodents do not like the scent of humans. Sprinkle hair clippings in and around areas that the groundhog frequents, or collect clippings in a mesh bag and secure it near the groundhog’s entrance holes.
  • Epsom Salts. Simply sprinkling Epsom salts near and around burrow entrances will keep groundhogs away. Keeping a shallow container filled with Epsom salts in your garden also deters groundhogs from eating the nearby plants.
Cat litter box filled with odor-absorbing bentonite litter

Used cat litter can signal a predator in the area, sending groundhogs in the other direction.

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Physical Groundhog Repellants

There are motion-activated pest repellants on the market with mixed reviews. To try and deter pests from nesting, sprinklers, ultrasonic noise makers, ground vibrators, or extreme light flashers activate when they sense motion.

It’s best to position them at the entrance and exit holes to the burrows, hopefully making the burrow uninhabitable. Another way is to flood the burrow with water, forcing the groundhog to seek drier shelter.

While the burrow is empty, fill the holes with compacted soil and rocks to seal the openings. If the amount of area is manageable, putting up a restricting fence is another physical option that may help keep groundhogs away from your property. Fences should be buried at least a foot under the ground due to the groundhog’s burrowing skills, and be erected at least 3 feet high.

Morning is the best time to water your grass.

Motion-activated sprinklers, flashers, and noise makers disrupt the groundhog’s living area.

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Time To Call a Professional

If you have a stubborn groundhog that is not reacting to any of your homemade groundhog repellant choices, it may be time to call a professional. Professional solutions may include relocation possibilities, depending on your local and state laws, and fumigation.

Fumigation is considered a last resort and should only be done by a professional. It is dangerous not only to the animals but also to humans, and will likely cause some damage to the lawn and root systems.

Professional solutions for repelling or removing groundhogs do not have to have a fatal conclusion. It is always recommended to look for trained wildlife removal professionals who first consider options that do not cause direct harm to the animal.

Black-capped marmot

If you have a stubborn groundhog that is not reacting to any of your homemade groundhog repellant choices, it may be time to call a professional.

©Egoreichenkov Evgenii/Shutterstock.com

Even with all the homemade and DIY groundhog repellant methods used, a professional may be the only way to rid yourself of this unwanted guest.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © toha90/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Gerald Dlubala is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on animals, plants, and places. Gerald has been writing for over 25 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Gerald has shared his home with numerous pets, including dogs, cats, a variety of fish and newts, turtles, hermit crabs, rabbits, and a flock of birds. Gerald enjoys all animal and plant life and looks at every day as an opportunity to learn something new about the world around us.

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