To anyone that grows a garden, the rabbit is not the adorable soft bunny that everyone thinks it is. They are notorious pests that can do considerable damage to your plant. The rabbit’s destructive tendency is mainly due to their varied diet. These annoying fluffy pests can eat pretty much anything. In fact, their diet is so diverse that most farmers can’t seem to agree on what they eat and what they do not.
Why You Need to Keep Rabbits out of Your Garden
Rabbits are particularly fond of young plants and fresh vegetation. They’ll eat everything from vegetables to berries, annuals, perennials, and even woody plants. If you grow a lawn, a rabbit can cause damage to your landscape or even damage household items they get hold of, including electrical wires, pieces of furniture, clothing, and so on.
The eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is the most common species of rabbit found in gardens all over the US. Unlike other species that prefer to stay in the wilderness away from humans, this species prefers gardens or landscaped areas where they can wreak a lot of havoc.
Rabbits also reproduce very fast. Their reproduction rate is so profound that there’s an entire idiom about “reproducing like rabbits.” An adult female can produce up to 3 litters with at least six babies within a year. Even with their cute reputation, you don’t want to have that many running around your garden.
Tips For Keeping Rabbits Out Of Your Garden
Like most pests, the best way to deal with a rabbit problem is to prevent it from happening at all. Thus, your best bet is to keep the rabbits out completely instead of looking for ways to get rid of them after taking over your garden. Of course, we’ll always recommend doing this in the most humane and non-toxic ways possible. Here are a few recommendations that can help you keep rabbits out of your yard for good:
Fence Your Garden
This is always the top recommendation for keeping pests out of your yard. But we’re not talking about a picket fence in this case, and you’ll need something a little more secure to keep rabbits out. The general recommendation is to use a chicken wire with at least 1/2 or 1-inch mesh to create a fence around your entire garden.
The fence should be high enough to keep the rabbits out (at least 2 feet high to keep them from hopping over). It should also be buried deep into the ground (at least 6 inches below the ground) since rabbits are great diggers. They can burrow under the fence to get into your garden. To further deter rabbits and other pests, you can make the fence electric or install motion-activated sprinklers in your garden that will trip off and send them scurrying away when they intrude.
Create A Barrier Around Individual Plants
You can install a barrier around individual plants in your garden either as an extra safeguard against pests or as an alternative to fencing the entire garden. This is particularly important for young plants or woody shrubs that can be significantly affected if the rabbits gnaw at them during winter. You can make individual protection for each plant using 1/4- to 1/2-inch mesh chicken wire. Like the external fence, your plant barrier should be buried slightly deep into the ground to prevent burrowing, and there should be sufficient clearance between the fence and the plant.
Go For Plants That Rabbits Don’t Like
This one is a little tricky since rabbits seem to be interested in such a wide array of plants. Many farmers believe that so-called “rabbit-proof plants” don’t exist at all. However, it is believed that some rabbits may find certain plants unpalatable. Top on the list is top scenting plants like garlic, basil, hot peppers, marigold, and mint. Since these plants are not likely to be on the rabbit’s menu, planting them is an effective way to keep rabbits away without stressing about building a fence or barrier.
Note that this isn’t a sure strategy. Some rabbits (especially young rabbits) have been known to sample different plants because they cannot tell the difference. Also, rabbits may get used to the plant’s smell and adapt to eating them.
Habitat Modification-Getting Rid Of Nesting Spots
If your area is rabbit prone, the last thing you want to do is make it conducive for rabbits to thrive. One strategy that is likely to work is to eliminate potential nesting spots for female rabbits. Female rabbits usually make their nest in overgrown grassy areas. If you have these around, it’s best to get rid of them. They may also nest around wood and debris piles, so get rid of these as well. You should also watch your fence regularly and seal off spaces they can pass through.
Rabbits and other pests are likely to stay away if they feel there’s someone around. Farmers often employ various techniques to trick them into believing this. Some of the common visual deterrents you can install in your garden include
- Metal pinwheels: they shine and make sounds when they rotate. This can scare pests away.
- Rubber snakes
- Owl statues
- Tying strips of aluminum foils between stakes
If you’re using visual deterrents, try to switch around their location frequently to keep the rabbits from getting used to them.
- Budget-friendly option
- Easy to set up
- Set one up at a time or use both
- Stylish design
Household pests like cats and dogs are natural predators of rabbits. Having them around can help stave the bunnies off. They don’t have to attack the bunnies or chase them physically, and their presence alone is enough to do the trick. In fact, some farmers get fresh fur from the groomer and litter it around the garden. The scent may trick the pests into thinking there’s a predator in the garden.
Traps Or Repellants
This has been left for last since they don’t exactly keep rabbits off your garden. However, live trapping is an effective way to get rid of pests that get into your garden, including rabbits. You can enlist the services of a professional to set traps in your garden for rabbits. This is recommended over trying to do so yourself, mainly because professionals know how to release the rabbits back to the wild properly.
A similar alternative that’s not so recommended is applying chemical repellents on plants likely to be targeted by rabbits. Chemical sprays are available commercially, but many of these are not recommended because they may affect edible plants. Some farmers recommend making your own sprays, and you’ll find plenty of homemade recipes for this online. Rabbits sniff a lot, so a well-prepared cocktail of pungent-smelling ingredients may deter these pesky furry creatures.
The truth is, keeping rabbits out of your garden is an ongoing battle. Even after following these tips, you have to be vigilant to prevent them from getting into your garden and damaging your crops. They adapt very quickly, and you have to be one step ahead every time to discourage them.
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