Everyone who is growing greens has some garden enemies. If you aren’t well protected, rabbits can wipe out your entire crops in just one night. Yes, this happens when a cute fluffy bunny visits you. Except it’s not cute. A rabbit’s a wild and always hungry animal who can do some severe damage to your landscape. Unless you want to experience it by yourself, let me tell you more about how to keep rabbits out of your garden.
Think Like a Rabbit
To know how to deal with your enemy, you need to get to know it. Despite the area you live in, most of the rabbits’ species act pretty much the same. Especially when it comes to reproduction and living conditions, this means a quickly growing population in the open fields or fence edges nearby. Being very shy and easily scared, rabbits come to feed at night. By choosing your plants or veggies are growing at the side of your property. Many of them are appealing to the rabbits’ dining menu, and if they are intrigued, they can explore further.
Rabbit Attracting Plants
If rabbits are hungry, they can, and they will probably eat anything green in your garden. But, they have some plant preferences based on the season, nutritional value, or taste.
Rabbits are usually more attracted to young and tender plants, including woody plants with thin bark and flowers. They prefer fruit (apple, pear) or berry (plums, cherries) trees and shrubs. In the spring season, they will feed on newly sprouted grass. And in the summer, their favorites are lettuce, spinach, green carrot tops, beet or broccoli leaves, beans, or peas.
The menu list continues with herbs such as cilantro or parsley. If anything is left after a harvest, they can even come in autumn or winter to finish their business. Hence, young rabbits are curious and tend to sample many plants until they find what they like the most.
Rabbit Resistant Plants
Even though rabbits are not very picky when it comes to their food, there are some plants rabbits don’t find very delicious. For example, they tend to avoid the intense smell, thorny plants, or members of the nightshade family. However, there is a high possibility they will eat around less enticing plants. It includes vegetables such as onions, leeks, rhubarb, tomatoes, potatoes, or squash. Or herbs like basil, oregano, mint, tarragon, and juniper. Some gardeners recommend including these greens, among others, in your garden bed as a prevention to keep a rabbit away from testing your veggies.
Make Physical Barriers
There is no more significant way to keep a rabbit away from your garden than making a physical barrier. To make reliable protection, you need to know a few things about building it effectively.
When it comes to rabbit fencing, be aware that the fence’s size, height, and material matter equally. Rabbits can chew through the plastic mesh, and the baby bunnies can squeeze through the gaps in a fence. They also are pretty good diggers, and they can burrow their way under your fence or jump over if it’s not tall enough.
So, when thinking about the material, you should choose wire mesh or hardware cloth. Any other metal fencing material also works as long as the wire mesh is the one-inch gauge or smaller. If you are not familiar with rabbits species living in your region, you wouldn’t like to risk making a small fence for these animals to jump over (some of the species can’t jump very high). However, to be on the safe side, I recommend you choose a fence 3-4 feet tall.
To make your fence more secure, you should also consider burying your fencing material under the ground around the perimeter of the fence. In this way, if rabbits start digging, they will run into your fence material underground. How deep should you bury it? It should be as deep as you can, at least 6 inches. To be more exact, L-shape fences here work very well.
Another important detail for you not to forget is the gate area. Make sure not to leave a gap along the edge of the gate for a rabbit to get through. You can overlap some pieces of wire mesh to make sure the fence is impenetrable.
Individual Plant Protection
If you don’t have a big garden or cannot install a fence around the area, you want to protect yourself from intruders. You can always choose individual plant protection. Here you can choose a chicken mesh netting over and around your plants. The critical detail here is to make the coverage not too high from the ground so that the bunny couldn’t fit its head or go under. However, it should still be high enough to be on the top of your plants to protect them from nibbling.
To secure trees from rabbit damage, you should create a wire cylinder 2 feet high on the tree. The wire must be at least 1 to 2 feet away from the tree. To protect the plant’s primary root system, you will also have to bury the base of the protective cloth at least 3 inches below the soil surface.
Opt for Raised Beds
Raised garden beds are great in means of price and simplicity to be installed. Besides, it’s beneficial when it comes to fighting with rabbits. Before installing it, make sure you have planned to make it high enough. You will have to raise your beds about eighteen inches off the ground to keep rabbits away. This makes their dining much more difficult or impossible as they will have to tiptoe to reach your greens.
However, if you already have your garden beds set up, you should go the same path as I described before. Use a chicken net to cover the whole bed and ensure it’s not too high from the ground.
Repellents can be a great addition to your fight with rabbits. It’s usually a combination of intensive smell items that you can spray on or around your plants. The good thing is you can choose it at a store or do it at home. Yet, you shouldn’t use any pesticides or products against rats because they might be toxic for you, your pets and children, and plants.
Organic Homemade Repellent
Why buy from a shop when you can use your resources and ensure it’s environmentally friendly? As you already know, rabbits dislike strong scents and spicy tastes, so you can easily mix and try something before purchasing it. Here are some best know practices:
- Mix hot pepper sauce (you can use ground black peppers or Tabasco sauce) with some water and sprinkle onto your plants.
- Use jalapeno peppers to mix with water and vegetable oil, and then spray onto your veggies.
- Don’t throw your used coffee grounds. Mix it with eggshells and banana peels and drop it around your garden perimeter.
- Get some human hair and sprinkle it around your garden (it’s also an excellent fertilizer for your vegetables).
- Use animal (dog, cat, fox) or human urine or blood meal and drop it around your garden.
Although some of these recipes sound ridiculous, they have been proven to work by some gardeners. Rabbits are scared of intensive scents as they block their ability to sense the predator. So don’t forget to reapply these sprays after the rain or heavy watering. And don’t forget, these homemade repellents are usually effective if nothing else is tempting nearby.
Electronic Rabbit Repellent
Electronic rabbit repellent is an excellent alternative to homemade liquids and other weird stuff. These devices usually use specific high frequencies which we don’t hear, but rabbits can’t simply stand it. If they hear the sound, they become disoriented or irritated by the noise and run away.
There are a few things I like the most about electronic rabbit repellent. It’s harmless (I’m not too fond of the idea of any animal being hurt in my garden), low maintenance (one-time investment), and affordable. To add more, it can help you deter your garden from rabbits and skunks, raccoons, squirrels, mice, or other birds. The only disadvantage here is that these ultrasonic repellents are only suitable for enclosed and semi-enclosed areas where the sound waves can bounce from wall to wall creating a circle of noise.
There are many ultrasonic devices to choose from depending on the coverage (usually they cover up to 3,6000 square feet), type of battery, or style you need. Important note: if you have pets in your house, the noise might irritate them even if you set the lowest intensity level.
Rabbits are timid and easily scared creatures. They will only stick around if they are sure they can easily take cover from predators. So it’s your job to scare them away. If your property looks or smells dangerous enough, I can guarantee they won’t risk their lives to get in.
If you have a dog or cat or multiple pets – let them out in your garden. It would be even better if you could leave your dog during a night (or several in a row) roaming around your garden as a safeguard. Rabbits and other pests will not be fascinated by your dog’s smell and will keep a safe distance from your property. Also, dogs and cats can chase and frighten rabbits away. And do it for fun (even if they cannot catch it), but it is enough for a rabbit to feel their smell long enough and not to come back.
If your garden seems attractive to rabbits, there is an excellent chance that other wild animals will stick around too. These predators don’t usually pose a danger to people, and not chasing them away can help keep rabbits away from your garden. Animals like foxes, hawks, owls, and snakes also have to feed themselves, so they will follow rabbit tracks to hunt.
However, this is quite a radical alternative, and I would recommend using moving garden decorations that can look like an animal. For example, spinning pinwheels can be noisy and look like something alive. You can also install a motion-activated sprinkler, which would have a very similar effect. Be creative, and I’m sure you can think of something else using what you have in your garage.
Live rabbit trapping is an option, but I usually recommend carefully using it if it’s vital. Choose it if there are no other options to deter rabbits from your yard, or you’ll be combining trapping with other methods. This is one of the least effective ways to control your uninvited guests from entering your garden if it is used alone. The population of rabbits is recovering so quickly that you will have to repeat trapping every season.
If you decide to do trapping, I would not recommend doing it alone. You need to have a strategy and some help dealing with a wild and scared animal. Some of them can even carry diseases and be aggressive. You should also check the local regulations on how and where you can release them (if you are willing to).
To avoid being selected as a rabbit dinner spot, you need to be consistent and regularly inspect your yard and garden. If you have noticed any signs of damaged plants, you shouldn’t wait for more but act immediately. There is no golden rule on keeping your garden untouched by rabbits, but a combination of different strategies might be the solution. I hope some of my tips will help you win this battle!