Rabbits may look cute and innocent, but these rascally rodents are actually pretty crafty. It isn't always easy to keep them away from your garden and devouring all your tasty plants, but luckily there are some proven techniques that keep rabbits and other hungry critters from enjoying your garden buffet.
Rabbits are notoriously quick and skittish, often making a clean getaway before you get the chance to spot them feasting on your garden. However, they are some telltale signs that they've been visiting your yard:
Check for rabbit droppings. If you see small pellet-shaped droppings scattered around your garden, chances are you've got some uninvited visitors hanging around.
Look around for chewed-up plants. An obvious sign that your plants are getting eaten, is, well, eaten plants! If small green stubs or sprouts have been chewed right down to the base, the rabbits have probably just enjoyed a hearty meal.
They'll gnaw on furniture and garden hoses, too. If you see any signs of gnawing on your patio furniture, or even on the bark of surrounding trees, it's time to take some measures to keep your rabbits from creating further damage.
As pesky as they may be, it's important to rely on humane and environmentally responsible measures for keeping out rabbits. These are some of the best methods of rabbit control that won't end up doing more harm than good:
Put up a fence. Regular old chicken wire is a simple and effective barrier for keeping the bunnies out. Since you're dealing with animals that are known for their hopping and burrowing prowess, you need to make sure your fence is buried at least 6 inches deep and reaches at least 2 feet tall. Poultry netting also works pretty well, especially for young, vulnerable shrubs and saplings. Just make sure the netting is several inches away from the plant, or else rabbits could lean in and push their way up to the leaves and grab a few bites.
Clean up any small piles of wood or debris.You want to make your yard as inhospitable as possible for rabbits and leaving around piles of debris or plant material is basically an open invitation for them to set up camp. Low-growing shrubs and dense foliage are also an ideal nesting spot, so try to avoid keeping those kinds of plants in your garden. If you notice any holes or gaps at the base of your home's foundation, seal those up to keep rabbits from sneaking in.
Use repellent spray or chemicals as a last resort. If you're running out of options and seem to be fighting a never-ending battle against the bunnies, you can opt for chemical repellent solutions. These products release a nasty odor and taste unpleasant to rabbits, which helps keep them off your plants. However, if you plan on eating those plants yourself, you won't want to be coating them with chemicals. You'll have to reapply frequently as well, especially after it rains.
Don't drive out natural predators. If you see foxes, owls or hawks roaming around, leave them be. These guys are integral parts of controlling rabbit populations, and it's important to let nature run its course.
Ineffective Methods to Control Rabbits
There are some shoddy pest-control methods on the market, so don't bother with these options, as they could end up wasting time and resources, or even pose a danger to other surrounding wildlife:
Poisons and Pesticides: Using harmful poisons in your garden could end very badly. You wouldn't want the family dog coming across a deadly poison disguised as a tasty snack, so if you're going to go the chemical route, just stick with repellents.
Lights and Noisemakers: These may spook rabbits for a temporary period, but soon they'll wise up and ignore the ruckus in pursuit of those tasty vegetables.
Scarecrows: Seriously, rabbits are smarter than you think, and a straw-filled dude on a stake isn't going to do much to keep them away!
Taking the appropriate measures for keeping rabbits out of you garden will save you a ton of grief down the road. After all the effort of creating a lush green garden, it would be a huge bummer to lose it all to the rabbits. Just remember to use safe and humane options, not just for the safety of the rabbits, but for you and your family's safety as well.