HOW TO KEEP RABBITS OUT OF YOUR GARDEN
Although they’re cute and furry, it’s hard to enjoy the company of rabbits after they’ve taken it upon themselves to snack on your beloved crops. There’s a time and place for them, but that place is definitely not your garden. The good news is there are plenty of safe and humane methods of protecting your garden from hungry rabbits, without compromising the adorability of these little critters.
SPOTTING RABBIT DAMAGE
Rabbits are quick and tiny, and it’s likely you won’t catch them in your garden all that often, but there are a few telltale signs that you might have a rabbit problem. First, look for sprouts in your garden that have been nibbled to the ground. That’s a pretty sure sign that a nibbling visitor stopped by.
Rabbits also tend to gnaw away at more than just your plants. Look for missing bark on trees and branches in your yard, or pieces of synthetics like your garden hose, gloves, and shoes. If you normally leave those items outside, it’s wise to store them away in a sealable container instead.
There are plenty of pests that can prey on your tender plants, but the surest sign you have a rabbit problem is if you find droppings. Rabbit droppings are small and pellet-shaped, and they’re the key to knowing if rabbits are wreaking havoc in your yard.
HOW TO KEEP RABBITS OUT
If one thing’s true, it’s that these critters are crafty, and it can be quite the struggle to keep them out of your garden. They can hop and burrow, and do so with incredible speed. Here are a few ways to deter them from your yard as safely and harmlessly as possible:
RABBIT GARDEN FENCE
The most basic defence from rabbits is lining your garden with fencing, like chicken wire. If you make it difficult for rabbits to get in and out, they may get tired of trying and move onto another garden for food.
Chicken wire is flexible and durable, so they shouldn’t be able to break through it. Opt for chicken wire with a half-inch to one-inch mesh and set it around the perimeter of your garden. As we all know, rabbits like to hop, so make sure it stands about 2 feet high to prevent any bunnies from leaping on over it. Set it at least 6 inches into the ground so they can’t burrow below it, either.
If you don’t want to perimeter your whole garden, you can choose to protect individual plants instead, like vulnerable shrubs and trees. They are often the most susceptible and tempting to rabbits when they’re just beginning to grow. Follow the same guidelines as a perimeter fence and leave a few inches of space so no rabbits can nibble at your plant through the wire.
A great way to make sure rabbits feed elsewhere is by minimizing natural nesting options like low shrubs and dense vegetation. Rabbits feel comfortable in more concealed spaces where they can hide, so be sure to clear out any piles of wood or vegetation along fence lines. If you have a deck or porch, seal up any inviting areas that bunnies can enter and make their new home.
Not everyone wants to think about this one, but it’s the circle of life! With the way rabbits multiply, population control isn’t a terrible thing. Foxes, owls, and hawks are all natural predators of rabbits. There are ways to attract them, like leaving out other foods they enjoy, but it’s not always a guarantee.
As a last resort to keep rabbits and rodents away, you can apply chemical repellents to specific areas of your garden that rabbits always return to. Repellents use unpleasant odors and flavors to keep rabbits at bay. However, since they’re chemically based, they aren’t suitable for any edible garden plants. Because of the nature of repellents, you need to use them sparingly and reapply them often. Better yet, use two different repellents so rabbits don’t acquire a taste for one.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Sometimes people get some pretty interesting ideas on how to control pests in the garden. These methods are oft-mentioned, but they’re not really effective at repelling rabbits:
Noisemakers or lights: While they might initially keep them away for a few hours, rabbits are pretty smart — it won’t deter them for long.
Scarecrows: Fake predators look menacing, but again, rabbits catch on very quickly that they’re harmless.
Poison: There are no certified poisons or baits that reliably repel rabbits. It’s far more likely you’ll harm other neighborhood animals before getting to any rabbits. If you’re thinking of taking this route, use repellents instead.
Experiencing wildlife in your garden is always something to enjoy — it means you’re creating a pretty natural and welcoming place, after all! But we want to be able to enjoy our beautiful flowers, shrubs, and veggies, too. Using humane methods to deter rabbits and other plant predators keeps your garden safe and enjoyable, without the unnecessary harm of these beautiful creatures.