Groundhog Saga part one

When I moved into my apartment last fall, I was too busy settling in and renovating to deal with the garden.  I did note in the back of my mind that my neighbor on my floor (its a fourplex two up two down) who shares the garden, mentioned that we had a "cute groundhog" who lived in a hole in the backyard.  I didn't really think much about it.

DUH!?  You see I was raised in the South (way down south – South Louisiana )  and we didn't have Groundhogs – just lots of mosquitos and humidity.  And the first garden I made was in the front yard of a brownstone on a fairly busy street in Park Slope but it was fenced in and, anyway, no groundhogs wandering the streets of Park Slope that I ever heard about…. and then I moved north to the Hudson River Valley – and well, welcome to Urban Gardening (as my landlady said).

In May, I started clearing out the yard (no one had ever done anything in this back yard – it was previously a house built for the factory workers in the factory along the Hudson River down the hill).  I cleared out 20 4–foot-high trash bags of weeds, tons of ivy (there was WAY TOO MUCH IVY) and cut down a 40 foot tree (yes with my own two hands). 

Memorial day002

This was taken on Memorial Day weekend.

Then I made the garden beds, (you can see the progress in the photo album) and then at the beginning of June – remember it was a VERY cold and wet May so planting was very late for all of us – I ordered a TON of plants from

Graceful Gardens.  I had ordered from them previously for my 80 sq ft front yard brownstone garden but NOW with 6 garden beds to fill with all the cottage garden plants I have dreamed of for YEARS – I ordered quite a bit.  I had to order them then because they were going to stop delivering.  I was NOT ready to plant them but I figured they would be fine for awhile.

The order came on Thursday June 1st, I opened all the boxes and put them out in the beds (still not finished).

The next morning …. DISASTER


I cried and cried and checked the internet and found a local company, Weschester Wildlife Control.  (Here in Westchester there are so many rodents, the county doesn't handle it)  The lady on the phone was very commiserative with my misery.  They were going to come on Monday – but in the meantime, they recommended putting all the plants on tables. 

Those are Hollyhocks mainly in the photo.  Stupidly I only put up the ones that IT had eaten.  The next morning other plants had been on It's diet – so they went up and then the Next morning more.  So finally I just put ALLLLL the plants on tables and chairs.   Our yard looked like a very Surreal party with two rows of chairs with plants on them and both of our patio tables covered with little plants. 


The WWC guys came on that Monday and found THREE more holes in the fence in the back and along the sides besides the main hole – which I had FLOODED out with water over the weekend after doing some Internet research – and they put newspaper in all the holes and said to watch them for three days for movement.  Finally on the third day one hole had the newspaper moved.

In the meantime, I put rocks and logs (from that tree) in the main hole and covered it up.  And then proceeded with the hardscaping and landscaping – more on that in another post.  


On Sat July 1, I was sitting on the patio in the morning and heard something and looked up and …..

There in the MIDDLE OF THE YARD was the biggest ugliest looking GROUNDHOG I had ever seen.  It ambled (it was FAT FAT FAT) and waddled over to the path from the garden to the patio (see photo above) and onto the patio.   (The photo below is not my groundhog but a general idea of what he looks like – mine is shorter and MUCH MUCH fatter)


Now it was about SIX FEET away from me – we looked at each other for a minute and then I said BOO and it scampered under the fence to the next yard.

Well!!!!  WELL!!  Hells Bells!!!

So that afternoon I was at the Hardware store (they LOVE me) and bought a five ft high roll of Chicken Wire fencing.


and put up my first ever Chicken Wire fence.


a thing of beauty non?

ok so you can admire it more… here are some alternate views.



By the time I finished with that fence,  I was on a roll.  So I plugged up the other three places I could find. 



ok… there was one other place I needed to fix – under the fence between my patio and the next door neighbor’s yard.  Its about a one foot gap – but at that point I just put some compost bags under the gap and between them and the stack of yet to be used mulch bags, that part is blocked.

So I had to go away for a week and when I returned… late that first night I was out in the garden with a flashlight – It seemed to be ok BUT its hard to see in the dark. 

The first morning back I found that IT had eaten some of the hollyhocks…


and had CLOBBERED the Echinacea.  The photo below is what I did to salvage the poor things – this is the SECOND time that IT has attacked them.


In looking for the NEW HOLE …. I found it – in the neighbor’s METAL shed that borders the left side of the yard !! Boy, that Groundhog is NOT dumb!  So I put a chair to cover the hole and the next morning he had dug a little hole under the chair. 

and here is the latest damage – the white Echinacea that was FULL of leaves and flower buds LAST NIGHT but this morning is a casualty.


so today I am getting MORE chicken wire and digging and sinking the fencing and staking it to the wall. 

I am DETERMINED to keep this rodent out. 

My neighbor on the other side (Joe) had bought a Havahart cage – maybe I will get it over in the yard before I plug up that hole and see if we can catch it.

But only one more night – I am SICK of seeing my poor plants eaten alive.

Thank GOD he does not eat ROSES – I would be out there with a SHOTGUN if he dares to eat them!

ok back to groundhog defense tactics.



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