Most people are familiar with Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog --Punxsutawney Phil-- who is brought out on February 2nd every year, to predict the end of winter weather. “Groundhog Day” is great fun and quite popular.
Far less popular or fun, are Phil’s cousins who decide to dig a burrow close to (or under) your house or garden shed. I must admit, that having been a “professional digger” for most of my adult life, I do respect the large volumes of soil a groundhog can move, in a short period of time.
Just recently, a groundhog began burrowing along the front foundation wall of our house, which is partially concealed by a Rhododendron and Pachysandra groundcover. It’s as if the burrow appeared overnight! Our neighbor across the street had similar excavations underway near her front door.
Remembering the advice of a professional wild animal trapper, I began my search for some hydrated lime. He said placing some at the entrance(s) to their burrow will send them packing. Hydrated lime is a quick-acting form of lime, typically used to raise the pH of acidic soil into a more favorable range.
When adjusting soil pH on a home lawn, we typically used a pelletized form of agricultural lime (calcium carbonate) since it was readily available, and wouldn’t “burn” an existing lawn like quick lime could. It took a few phone calls to finally locate a small bag of hydrated lime.
While I didn’t like the idea of placing any hydrated lime in the vicinity of our red Rhododendron, since they prefer acidic soil, sprinkling some down into the entryway of the burrow still seemed worthwhile, since this major excavation was progressing rapidly.
Shazam! The groundhog vacated the burrow.
I also did some online research to determine other environmentally-friendly ways to discourage groundhogs. I learned they are hard to discourage, yet very scent oriented. Using strong smelling things like garlic and cayenne pepper flakes will also work. And if you or a friend has a cat, place some used cat litter at the entrance as a groundhog repellent -- apparently they regard cats as predators.
Stay alert for a possible “groundhog homecoming” since burrows need to be dug well in advance of winter.