Rabbits can be a nuisance to farmers and gardeners alike, no matter how cute they are and no matter how much you loved Peter Rabbit as a kid. If you live in an area where rabbit populations are infested, the tasks of protecting your garden and allowing these furry species to thrive without human intervention can seem contradictory.
Fortunately, there are several sustainable ways to keep rabbits out of your garden.
Rabbits, Cotton, and Hares
european rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) It is a separate genus from cotton rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.) and hares (Lepus spp.) Which is native to North America. Most domestic rabbits are descended from European introduced rabbits, but the cottontail is the most common type of rabbit in North America.
Identify rabbits in your garden
Uninvited diners in your garden may not necessarily be rabbits. Mice, squirrels, and other rodents are also opportunistic eaters. Here’s how to find out who is eating your plants.
- Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk. Sit quietly in your garden during these times of the day and see who comes up for a meal.
- Ask at a local greenhouse, garden center, or university extension service if rabbits are known to live in your area.
- Look for bite marks. Insects leave holes in plants. Rabbits nibble off the edge. They will leave your plants looking clean and not torn.
- Rabbits leave brown round or oval fecal pellets as they move around the garden. You may also find rabbit hair or fur stuck to the branches.
Keep rabbits out of your garden
If you identify your problem as rabbits, there are several ways to keep rabbits away. The first principle is to stay ahead of the problem by creating a garden to deter rabbits before they even see the first signs of damage.
Put up a rabbit fence
Rabbit fencing is the best long-term way to keep rabbits away from your entire property. It should be made of heavy-duty galvanized steel mesh at least 4 feet high, with the bottom feet sunk below ground level and the lowest 6 inches outward to prevent rabbits from digging tunnels underneath. The net should be narrower than 3 inches.
Garden family protection
To protect the entire garden family, place chicken netting on top of your rabbit’s favorite foods. But remember that rabbits are good diggers. Bury a rag around the base of your garden beds to prevent rabbits from burrowing under chicken nets.
Small trees and shrubs surround
You can protect your small trees and shrubs with a half-inch mesh cloth or 1-inch chicken net. Form a piece of cloth or chicken netting into a cylinder and push it into the ground to hold it upright.
Prepare insect repellent
Repellents that contain solids from whole, rotting eggs can reduce browsing of rabbits. However, you may end up attracting other pests to the decaying organic matter.
Instead, spread a bag or spray a liquid mixture of any combination of garlic, red pepper, strong-smelling soap, or other strong scents around the perimeter of your garden or at the base of trees and shrubs. Just keep in mind that you or your neighbors might also smell the bug repellent.
Remove potential hiding places
Rabbits do not like open spaces where they are vulnerable to predators. Eliminate potential nesting and hiding places clearing Brush piles, weed spots, rock piles, and other debris. The open area around your garden will give your plants some limited protection.
Rabbits are creatures of habits, so any innovation is a threat. Creating harmless disturbances with any unfamiliar sound or sight is likely to keep them away. Try low-maintenance solar-powered LED lights that flash or flash on a timer, or a motion-activated sprayer to keep rabbits out of your garden. Noisy garden ornaments, wind chimes, spinning pinwheels, and a pallet of pie tins or aluminum cans can deter rabbits—if the wind is blowing, that’s the case.
Grow food that rabbits don’t eat
Rabbits are opportunistic feeders and especially enjoy the delicate shoots of seedlings, including trees and small shrubs. The key is to grow what they don’t eat. Once rabbits discover a great food source, they will come back again and again until they run out of food supplies.
Removing temptations early in the spring can prevent their habits from emerging. Rabbits love beans, carrots, lettuce, parsley, peas, and spinach, but plants with fuzzy leaves, milky succulents, thistles, and strong aromas are also likely to avoid plants as any member of the nightshade family, due to their toxins. But when rabbits are hungry enough, they eat almost anything.
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