Aside from the erratic temperatures May and June bring, perhaps nothing says summer is coming to Boston like the appearance of the eastern cottontail rabbit. The first few bunny sightings of the season may have you fawning over their cuteness, but that feeling of adoration often gives way to dread once you realize how much damage these young rabbits can do to your landscape.
The difference between a garden and a jungle is that in a garden, the rabbits don’t hide. – David Hobson
Rabbits are Nature’s Garden Foragers
These wild animals have long been the bane of many vegetable gardeners’ existence, but their appetites are certainly not limited to “people food.” The list of things rabbits are known to eat is exhaustive and includes almost all varieties of grasses, flowers, twigs, and buds. In short, if you grow anything at all in your yard or garden, odds are good the cottontail rabbits can and will make a meal out of it.
If you want to enjoy your outdoor space without fear of it being destroyed, you are likely to be in need of some rabbit-proofing solutions. Unfortunately, no method is completely guaranteed to deter rabbits, but it is certainly possible to create an environment that is less inviting to them. Keep reading for more information on a few ways you can keep these garden pests out of your yard.
Create A Barrier
One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of rabbits that visit your garden beds is to create a physical barrier. Many gardeners have great success using chicken wire to section off areas, but if aesthetics are of utmost importance this is, admittedly, not the best option. However, installing a metal or wood fence is a great alternative, depending on the amount of space and budget you have to work with.
Like the frame of a masterpiece, a garden fence defines nature’s canvas. – Anonymous
The key is to make sure your fence is deeply anchored into the ground in order to prevent rabbits from being able to crawl underneath. You will also need to make sure your barrier, whatever you choose, is at least three feet high, as it is believed wild rabbits can easily jump about two feet.
Natural Rabbit Repellents
If creating a physical barrier is not an option, there are countless other methods that may prove helpful. Natural rabbit repellent, both homemade and commercially available, may be an easy fix.
A few DIY options include sprinkling cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your garden; soaking rags in ammonia and placing them discreetly behind planters and other out-of-view locations; or combining a mixture of garlic, red pepper flakes, dish soap, and water into a spray bottle and frequently spraying the area you hope to protect. Some people also say that you can use Irish Spring soap as a natural way to deter rabbits because rabbits dislike the smell of it. Try placing some in drawstring or cheesecloth in areas around your garden. You can also purchase ready-made repellent and ultrasonic deterrents from most hardware and lawn and garden stores.
Try Using Plants to Create a Distraction
There are some claims of success reported by filling the yard with plants rabbits dislike– snapdragons, salvia, and geraniums, to name a few- although, of all the options available, this may be the least effective as hungry rabbits aren’t too picky.
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. – Hanna Rion
Instead of filling your yard with rabbit-resistant plants, try setting up designated areas with rabbit-friendly plants away from your main garden area. This can divert their attention and keep them from damaging your preferred plants.
Need Help With Those Rabbits?
Since there’s no way to control the ever-expanding rabbit population, the best solution is to try multiple options in hopes that your yard or garden becomes too much of a hassle for cottontails to bother with. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin, our team at Christie Dustman and Company can help you create barriers and choose plants that make for a rabbit un-friendly space, including regular garden maintenance services to keep your yard in top shape. The good news is that whatever works for rabbits often works for other animals as well. With a little experimenting and perseverance, you’re likely to have your outdoor space all to yourself in no time.
Q: How do I keep rabbits out of the garden without a fence?
A: Use natural repellents like garlic, onions, or hot pepper spray to deter rabbits from your garden. Apply these substances to plants and around the perimeter.
Q: Will red pepper flakes keep rabbits away?
A: Yes, red pepper flakes can be an effective natural repellent to keep wild rabbits out of your garden. Their strong scent and spicy taste are usually disliked by rabbits.
Q: Do wild rabbits ruin lawns?
A: Yes, rabbits can cause damage to lawns. They might graze on grass, dig shallow burrows, create paths, and leave urine spots that can lead to brown patches.