A beautiful flower garden attracts many types of wildlife to the yard. Nature lovers often say that’s one of their greatest benefits! However, some of our furry friends cause big problems in our garden beds. Rabbits, cute as they are, cause a lot of damage to our gardens when they eat tender shoots and flowers. It can be frustrating to see all the work and effort you put into your garden space turn into snacks for bunnies. So, what’s the solution? Here are some tips to keep rabbits out of your garden.
There are many species of wild rabbit and most of them eat plants, shrubs and flowers. What are some of the telltale signs that rabbits have been munching on your garden plants? You will often see patches of fur in the spaces where rabbits roam and nest. Oftentimes it will be caught in branches, paths and beds.
Rabbits tend to eat green shoots and other soft vegetation, gnawing them down to ground level. You may find evidence of this in your vegetable garden as well. Keep an eye out tree bark nibbled on at ground level or rabbit droppings as well. Like rodents, rabbits have teeth that continuously grow. Therefore, rabbits keep them at a manageable length by chewing on plants and bark. However, they don’t tend to dig for their food. If you see bulbs and roots dug up from your beds, it was probably other animals such as squirrels or woodchucks.
Now that you’ve determined that rabbits are getting to your garden plants, there are ways to persuade them to stay away.
You’ve probably noticed that wild rabbits don’t like to get too close to humans! Their desire to keep their distance is instinctual and keeps them safe from animal and human predators. Rabbits’ sense of smell is their most important threat detector, and we can use that to our advantage.
Sprinkle unwashed human hair around your plants and beds to keep bunnies away. You can also fill cheesecloth bags with hair and hang them near your garden beds. The scent will persuade them to look elsewhere for food. Alternatively, you can spread dog or cat hair in your beds to achieve the same results. Remember, hair will eventually break down and fertilize your beds, as well! Used, organic kitty litter spread throughout the beds can prevent rabbits from congregating as well.
Although they are voracious eaters, rabbits will avoid areas containing certain types of plants they find distasteful. This includes shrubs such as rhododendrons, boxwoods, azaleas and buddleja. Bunnies also turn their noses up at peonies, primrose and lamb’s ear! Plant these varieties in or around your garden beds to deter them from spending time there.
Put up a fence to keep uninvited guests out of your garden spaces. Experts recommend building your fence at least two feet high to prevent intruders hopping over it. What should you build your fence out of? Chicken wire with 1” openings is too narrow for most rabbits to squeeze through. Bury your fence 6-10” below ground level so critters won’t be able to tunnel beneath it.
- Do you have outdoor dogs or cats? Your pets may prevent rabbits and other critters from roaming in your yard.
- Have rabbits made their own home on your property? Remove any nests or brush piles that may have become hiding spots in your yard.
- Consider using raised beds to keep your garden plants out of reach of bunnies. Install them at waist level for best results.
- Live traps are a humane and effective method of removing rabbits and other critters from your garden area. Simply bait your traps with tasty greens and release the rabbits, unharmed, in areas away from your garden.
Do you still have issues with critters in your garden? Read this post about dealing with other garden pests.