Although cute, rabbits can do significant damage to your vegetable garden, especially if you have plants in the seedling stage. Rabbits enjoy feasting on young plants, and if you don’t protect your crops, you’re might just lose them to the furry critters and their seemingly insatiable appetites. To protect your garden, incorporate various methods to keep the uninvited guests at bay.
Scare Off Rabbits
Although worth a try, scare tactics might work for one or two days, but most likely won’t be effective all season. Use them together with another rabbit-repelling method, or to buy yourself enough time to work on another method to repel nuisance rabbits. You can, for instance, cut an old garden hose to a length of 4 feet and place it along a walkway that rabbits might frequent. Commercial predator decoys, such as a fake owl or hawk, might also work. Move the decoys daily so they stay effective and the rabbits don’t get used to them. Another alternative is a motion-activated sprinkler system that produces a burst of water when it senses motion. However, if you have many rabbits visiting your plot, this can become a costly affair.
Repellents that have a taste or smell that rabbits find unpleasant might convince them to graze elsewhere. Some effective odor repellents include predator urine and blood meal. Taste repellents can include hot pepper-based repellents, or repellents made with essential oils or garlic. When purchasing a commercial repellent from a garden or home-improvement store, make sure it’s geared toward rabbits. If you want to save money, you can also make your own repellent. You can, for instance crack two eggs into 1 gallon of water. Throw away the shells and fill the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake it before applying it and spray it on the soil around the off-limits area.
Offer Food Alternatives
To keep rabbits from raiding your garden, consider growing crops that they favor in a separate area that’s away from your garden. The rabbits will be drawn to this area and might leave your garden alone. Plant rabbit-friendly crops, such as cabbage, lettuce, peas and beans, in the separate plot and cross your fingers. Pair this method with other repelling methods to ensure the protection of your garden. If there’s no space to grow rabbit-friendly garden, consider interplanting crops that rabbits dislike in between the plants that you’re trying to protect. Rabbits dislike vegetable crops, such as leeks, onions, potatoes and asparagus.
Fence Out Rabbits
The most effective, long-term method to keep rabbits from destroying your garden, is installing a fence. A fence made of chicken wire will do. Ensure it’s about 48 inches high and bury it about 10 inches deep. This will discourage rabbits from jumping over the fence and from digging their way into your garden. If you only want to protect a select amount of crops, individual chicken-wire cages that encircle the plants can offer protection.
Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver; Fern Marshall Bradley
Pest-Proofing Your Garden: Ruth Harley
The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Rabbits