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Keeping Groundhogs From Your Garden

While Punxsutawney Phil's annual emergence from his burrow makes headlines, his wild brethren aren't so popular. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, come out of their long winter nap hungry and ready to raid the nearest flowerbed.

"People are excited to see Phil on Feb. 2, but within weeks, some homeowners will complain about groundhogs eating flowers and garden vegetables," said Laura Simon, field director of Wildlife & Habitat Protection community programs for The Humane Society of the United States. "With the right tools and a little tolerance, people can easily discourage unwanted groundhog activity in their gardens and peacefully coexist with them."

To help gardeners retain their vegetables for their own table, HSUS issues a series of tips for safe, easy, and nonlethal ways to discourage wildlife. Good fences, as the poem says, makes good neighbors...and installing a wobbly three to four foot-high mesh barrier around the vegetable patch can stop most groundhogs or woodchucks.

Simon recommends the regular green garden fencing available at most garden, hardware, and home building stores. By placing the bottom 12 inches of mesh outward, parallel to the ground, and pinning it landscaping staples, gardeners can create an "apron" to discourage groundhogs from digging under the fence.

If the top portion of the mesh is not taut where stapled to fence posts, so it wobbles when challenged, the groundhogs won't climb over, added Simon.

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