I live in Etobicoke near Centennial Park, abutting a small ravine. I have just discovered a very large groundhog residing under my white cedar garden shed. It has eaten the blossoms off my Bachelor Buttons, down to the stems about 3 inches above the ground; also eaten the echinacea leaves and a few other plants. I would like to block the hole it has dug under the shed – can I safely use kitty litter to do this as I understand it is a repellant but is it a particular kitty litter. How do I deter him from eating the garden perennials? How do I safely steer him to the ravine for his burrowing and home; I had new sod put in last year and do not want to have it ruined. Thank you.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners concerning the groundhog in your garden. Groundhogs (also called Woodchucks) can cause significant damage to gardens. The Province of Ontario’s publication Preventing and managing conflicts with small animals does recommend placing “urine-soaked kitty litter clumps near the burrow entrance — the scent is strong and discourages groundhogs from returning”. Once you are sure the groundhog is not under your shed, you should fill the hole and install heavy gauge mesh over the hole.
If this doesn’t work, I recommend you contact a certified pest control specialist to safely and humanely remove the groundhog from underneath your shed. The specialist will also be able to recommend appropriate structural changes to your shed (chicken wire, blocks, etc.).
To deter groundhogs from your garden, choose plants from this list from the Cornell Cooperative Extension: Groundhog resistant plants. Hopefully these furry pests will find another home when you make your garden less inviting.
A last resort to keep groundhogs out of your garden would be fencing. You’ll need to install galvanized 1 inch (2.54 cm) wire mesh fencing, at least 60 cm high and at least 25 cm straight down, with an additional 20 cm bent forward underground, making an L-shape. This will keep them out most of them time, but could be costly, and not very aesthetically pleasing.
Wishing you fewer groundhog days.