Gardening Tips and Highlights Waushara County Master Gardeners
Ways to keep rabbits from eating garden plants
Rabbits with their twitching whiskers, oversized ears, and cotton-ball tails—may delight some onlookers as they hop around yards; however, even the cutest of bunnies can quickly turn into a gardener’s worst nightmare as they feast away on plants.
Here are a few humane ways of discouraging rabbits from indulging on your plants.
Fences: The most effective and humane way of deterring rabbits is fencing. Create a barrier between your beds and the rabbits by putting up a mesh fence one to three feet high. This is commonly made of chicken wire. Make sure to bury the bottom edge of the fence at least six inches under the ground to keep the most determined rabbits from burrowing beneath it. If you do not want to fence an entire flowerbed, you can fence individual plants by creating a cylinder of wire mesh around them, at least two feet high and one to two feet away from the selected plant. Again, don’t forget to bury the fencing at least six inches beneath the ground.
Limiting habitat: Try to take away any area where rabbits may nest around your home/garden. Seal off any openings beneath decks, steps, and buildings. Clear plant debris-fallen branches, brush and remove low-growing branches and dense vegetation.
Repellants: There are natural repellants that are not only safe around animals and children, but are also environmentally friendly and still effective. Natural repellants are short-term relief. You have to reapply for best effect-especially after rainfall. Rabbits have a keen sense of smell, so many repellants incorporate coyote urine or dried blood. Some gardeners will sprinkle dog or human hair around their beds. Others make their own spray using two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce mixed in a gallon of water with a couple of squirts of dish soap.
Deter with plants: You can discourage rabbits from eating your more desirable plants and edibles by growing varieties that they typically avoid, such as tomatoes, vinca, lilac, lavender, and more. What they do like is peas, beans, and clover.