Rabbits may be adorable, but they can also be a menace to your garden. If you’re having trouble keeping these cute furry pests away from your plants, don’t worry. There are many things you can do to try to fix the problem.
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How to Identify Rabbits in Your Garden?
So, you’ve noticed some damage in your garden, but you’re not sure what’s causing it. How can you tell if rabbits are the perpetrators? Here are some tell-tale signs.
Plants That Rabbits Eat
It’s not surprising that there are many, many plants that rabbits like to eat. If you grow any of the following plants in your garden and find that they’re being eaten, it’s likely a rabbit is to blame.
Rabbits love to eat the following annual flowers: impatiens, morning glories, pansies, snapdragons, sunflowers, sweet peas, verbenas, and zinnias. Note that this is only a partial list.
There are multiple perennials that rabbits like to eat, too. These include baby’s breath, aster, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, daylilies, hostas, lilies, daisies, phlox, tulips, and woodruff.
As for shrubs, rabbits like barberry, flower crab apple, hawthorn, juneberry, lilac, roses, smoke bush, and witch hazel.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, well, there isn’t very much that a rabbit won’t eat. Some of their favorites are apples, beets, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, peppers, pears, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, and swiss chard.
It’s pretty easy to determine the damage that is caused by a rabbit. Look for evidence of gnawing on everything from green shoots to stems and shrubs close to ground level. You may even be able to see teeth marks on wood, and in the winter, you can spot footprints all around the area.
Droppings are another tell-tale sign of rabbits in the garden. Rabbit droppings are small, firm, and round. They’re dark brown or black and the size of a large pea. Mice, squirrels, and other pests have much smaller droppings.
What is not rabbit damage?
Rabbits, squirrels, and other wild animals are attracted to the same plants, so it’s possible that your garden is being eaten by another type of animal. If you see any signs of digging or roots that are overturned, it’s more likely caused by a squirrel or a woodchuck than a rabbit.
If you notice any burrows or tunnels around the garden, there’s a good chance that another animal is causing the damage, like a woodchuck.
6 Ways to Keep Rabbits From Eating Your Plants
If you are certain it’s a rabbit that is causing the damage, there are some things you can do to stop it from happening.
1. Using Rabbit Repellents
Rabbit repellents are one approach. Here are a few types to consider:
- Natural Rabbit Repellent
Some herbs are said to deter rabbits from destroying your plants. Try hot pepper sauce, garlic, onions, or blood meal. Note that natural repellants need to be reapplied frequently, at a minimum after every rainfall. On the upside, they’re safe for children and other animals.
- Chemical Rabbit Repellent
Chemical repellents are synthetic, ready-to-use sprays. A lot of people prefer these because they are really easy to use, and they last longer than natural alternatives.
Before applying any of these chemicals to your lawn, make sure you read the directions. Some chemical repellents may be harmful to children and other pets, and you may not be able to use them on plants that you’re planning to eat.
- Motion Activated Rabbit Repellent
As the name suggests, motion-activated rabbit repellents are triggered any movement. Usually, they have a sensor that is only activated by small animals that don’t respond to your or your family walking by.
Motion-activated rabbit repellent is usually nothing more than a spray of water that scares away the rabbits. If you have problems at night, motion detector lights are often effective. The rabbits are scared away when the light comes on.
2. Fences and Other Physical Barriers
Physical barriers are another way to protect your plants from rabbits. If you choose this route, remember that the barriers have to be about 18 inches high. You can use a simple fence structure string with chicken wire.
The issue with barriers is that rabbits are pretty agile. Unless the fence is secured properly, there’s a good chance the rabbit will be able to bend the chicken wire enough to access the plants.
Remember, too, that rabbits can burrow. If they’re hungry enough, a barrier like this may not be able to stop them. To be as effective as possible, the wire would need to extend about six to ten inches underground.
3. Plants to Repel Rabbits
There are many plants that rabbits don’t like, and planting them in and around your garden is a good way to try to keep them at bay.
To start, there are plenty of shrubs that can keep rabbits away. These include boxwood, azaleas, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and Japanese maple.
Perennials that repel rabbits are those like peony, primrose, speedwell, Russian sage, and spring cinquefoil. If you’re looking for annuals, try geraniums, marigolds, vinca, and wax begonia. Rabbits also don’t like a variety of bulb plants, including daffodils, hyacinth, and Persian onion.
Believe it or not, there are also some vegetables and herbs that rabbits don’t like. These include asparagus. basil, marjoram, mint, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, summer squash, tarragon, and tomatoes.
The fact that rabbits don’t like these plants doesn’t mean you’re limited to only having these things in your garden. Try planting these things in and around your other plants to keep the rabbits at bay.
4. Trapping Rabbits
While it’s not always easy, it is possible to trap rabbits in humane traps and then release them away from your yard. Before you do this, though, make sure you know where you can release them.
A lot of places consider rabbits nuisance animals, so it may not be as simple as driving them a few miles away and letting them go. This approach is also not that effective in the long run as most rabbits find their way back eventually.
5. Habitat Modification
There are a lot of things you can do to modify your lawn so that rabbits are less likely to be a problem. For starters, try planting only mature shrubs and trees. Rabbits tend to like young plants as they’re easier to chew and may not bother with older ones.
You can also let your dog or cat out into the yard. Certain dog and cat breeds are very skilled at hunting and whose presence is enough of a deterrent to keep rabbits away.
Eliminate their hiding spots. Rabbits like to hide, especially when they nest. Keep your yard free of brush piles and shadowy areas. If they’re forced to stay out in the open, they’ll likely choose another place to spend their time.
6. Using Raised Beds
Rabbits are small and prefer to stay close to the ground. Using raised planting beds is a good way to discourage them from eating your plants because it keeps everything just out of reach.
You can use pre-made wooden raised beds or plant your vegetables in large pots or planters that you can keep on the deck or place over a porch railing. While a rabbit may be able to break through a simple chicken wire fence, they are not likely to climb up the side of a pot or raised bed. This is usually an effective method.
Rabbits can be a nuisance, especially if you have a big, beautiful vegetable garden that you’re trying to protect.
If you think rabbits are destroying your plants, the first thing you need to do is find out for sure. There are a lot of wild animals that may be destroying your garden. Rabbits often leave behind gnaw marks and large droppings. Plus, there are certain plants that they find hard to resist.
When it comes to keeping rabbits from eating your plants, there are a lot of things you can try. Some of them are natural, like planting plants that they don’t like or using your family pet to scare them away.
There are a lot of barriers you can use, too. Try a fence or use raised beds to plant your vegetables. Keep your yard free of hiding spots so they have nowhere to go, and there’s a good chance they’ll go elsewhere.
Think twice before trapping them. Yes, this may seem like the most humane solution, but it’s not always a good one.
First, you have to make sure that you are allowed to relocate them as some places consider them a nuisance animal, which means you just can’t drive to a farm and release them. Second, rabbits are usually pretty good at finding their way back. If not, there are likely hundreds more waiting to take their place.
Don’t be discouraged. We gave you lots of ideas to try. If you’re persistent and cover all of your bases, you’ll figure out a way to keep your plants safe from the adorable furry pests in your yard.