10 Tips for Protecting Your Garden from Rabbits
Rabbits! They’re adorable, they make great pets, and if you have access to their litter box, their manure makes excellent garden fertilizer. And….I’m assuming that if you are growing vegetables, you aren’t doing it for the rabbits.
Here are some tips for keeping your vegetables safe from the rabbits. Keep in mind that effective rabbit control is likely to require more than one strategy.
If you have the space, stack the deck with extra plantings. No matter what you do, some of your vegetables may get munched. Farmers know this, and they often plant more than they need, knowing that some of the vegetables might go to the wildlife, so that they are left with enough for themselves.
Know their food preferences. Rabbits really enjoy eating young plants, so your crops are most in danger when they are small.
Physical barriers! Keep them out with obstacles like a two-foot high chicken wire fence that is buried 6 inches deep into the ground will keep most rabbits out (so you will need at least 2.5 feet of fencing). Vinyl coated chicken wire will last longer, since bare metal can oxidize and disintegrate more quickly when buried. You can also make a cage for your plants out of PVC pipe and chicken wire: http://gardeninglove.xyz/use-pvc-pipe-chicken-wire-to-make-raised-garden-beds-catbirdrabbit-proof/
Gross them out, part 1: Plant the perimeter of your garden with perennial plants that rabbits don’t like, such as bee balm, lavender, sage, thyme, alliums, and day lilies. You can also use mint and lemon balm, but make sure to plant these in pots, because they spread underground via runners and once you plant it in your yard, they are very difficult to get rid of when they spread too far.
Gross them out, part 2: Companion planting! Along with your vegetables, plant plenty of herbs and flowers that rabbits don’t like, such as basil, rosemary, sage, lavender, calendula, scallions, onions, tomatoes, oregano and garlic (as well as mint and lemon balm in pots). This will help deter them from the garden. Even if you grow way more basil and scallions than you can use, it will help with safe pest control and attract beneficial insects.
Gross them out, part 3: Get some Irish Spring soap, shred it, and sprinkle it around your garden: https://www.hometalk.com/14959021/use-soap-to-keep-nibblers-from-your-garden
Gross them out, part 4: Make this Garlic and pepper spray (if you have children who may be tempted to touch plants, I would NOT recommend this option, since the capsacin in peppers can burn!) :https://premeditatedleftovers.com/gardening/inexpensive-organic-rabbit-repellent/
Scare them: If you have a cat or dog, letting them roam the yard can deter wildlife. Human hair is also an option! Get some from a hair salon, and sprinkle it around your garden.
Remove their habitats. Get rid of brush piles and excess leaves so they don’t have an easy place to hide.
Trick them. Lure them to another part of your yard by planting a small patch of clover or alfalfa away from your garden!
Need some help figuring out which solutions are right for your garden? Book a pest and disease house call in the Merrimack Valley and I'll help!