Rabbits are Ruining my Hard Work in the Garden!

Peter Rabbit did not listen to his mother when she warned him NOT to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden. This story is not surprising to gardeners. They are completely aware of the persistent rabbits that cannot help but visit their gardens. It is a shame to walk out into your garden to see it look like someone gave your young plants and vegetables an unnecessary pruning.  Rabbits will snip the stems of your plants in clean cuts, level your lettuce and gnaw rings around the trunks of trees.  If this is not enough evidence that you have a rabbit problem, look for their footprint marks (large in the back and small in the front) and small pellet-like droppings. Now that you have identified the intruder, it is time to make your lawn and garden less appealing to the bunnies.  

The first thing to do is to make sure that the environments around your flower and vegetable gardens are free of the cover that rabbits like to nest in.  By removing brush, rock piles and weeds where rabbits like to habituate, they may relocate.  A barrier fence of at least 3 feet is recommended to keep out both cottontails and jackrabbits. The fencing should have mesh no larger than 1 inch and should be buried 6 inches under the ground to discourage rabbits from digging under.  If you would rather protect individual plantings, plants and tree trunks can be protected by circling with wire fencing and bury 3 inches into the ground.  Make sure to leave the fencing 2 inches away from the trunk so the rabbits cannot push against it and get at the foliage. There are natural repellents usually containing capsaicin (hot pepper) that make the plant distasteful to the rabbit.  You will need to reapply to plants new growth. Be careful to avoid spraying portions of the plant that you plan on eating.  Another way to keep the rabbits out of your yard is to trap and relocate them.  Cottontail is easier to capture than the jackrabbit that are a more leery of the trap.  Some people swear by their dogs to keep the rabbits away.  The answers are out there: a strong fence, a smelly repellent, a humane trap or a good dog.

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