Bunnies Be Gone! Three Natural Solutions For Rabbits In The Garden

Posted on: 4 March 2015

The cottontail rabbit may be adorable as he hops across the yard, but when he sets his sights on your garden you may suddenly see him with new eyes. These cute little bunnies have a voracious appetite and aren't opposed to chowing down on your garden. Keeping them out can be difficult, but not impossible. Try these natural methods for wildlife control this summer.

Fences

One of the easiest ways to prevent rabbits from nibbling your veggies is to keep them from getting into the garden in the first place. Erecting a fence made from chicken wire will do the trick, but it requires some special treatment to keep rabbits from digging under the fence.

  1. Measure the perimeter of your garden to determine the amount of chicken wire you will need. This typically comes in rolls of 25 to 50 feet and can be purchased in 24- to 48-inch heights. Choose fencing that is at least 36 inches high.
  2. Dig a 6-inch wide trench to a depth of 8 inches around the perimeter of the garden.
  3. Install fence posts in the trench, spaced 6 feet apart.
  4. Unroll a section of the chicken wire and bend the bottom of the wire at 90-degree angle to make a 6-inch L.
  5. Position the chicken wire into the trench so the L lies flat against the soil and faces away from the garden.
  6. Attach the wire to the fence posts. 
  7. Repeat this process until the garden is enclosed.
  8. Fill in the trench with soil and pack it down firmly with your feet or the back of a garden hoe. 

Deterrents

Deterrents do exactly what their name implies -- deter rabbits from entering the garden. While deterrents are less effective than fences, they are typically inexpensive and don't require the labor involved in erecting fences. The do, however, require repeat applications every week or two. Try these rabbit deterrents to send bunnies on their merry way.

  • Commercial Organic Repellents: These can be purchased at home improvement or hardware stores. They include substances with either a bad taste or odor that can be applied directly to your veggies and predator scents made from the blood or urine of foxes and coyotes. Predator scents are usually applied to the soil or foliage around the perimeter of the garden.
  • Homemade Repellents: These repellents are made from common household ingredients and applied to the garden. Some common home repellents include:
    • Garlic and Pepper Spray: Add five cloves of minced garlic to one gallon of water. Mix in 2 teaspoons of crushed red peppers. Add one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Shake the mixture thoroughly and apply to vegetation with a spray bottle.
    • Hot Pepper Spray: Mix one tablespoon of hot sauce with one gallon of water. Shake to mix the solution. Apply to vegetation just before nightfall, using a spray bottle to wet your veggies.
    • Bars of Soap: Select highly-scented deodorant soap for men. (Apparently, bunnies do not find women's floral scents offensive.) Drill holes in the soap and string them on jute. Hang the soap every 3 to 6 feet around your garden to deter rabbits.

Live Traps

Many people prefer to simply trap the rabbits and relocate them to a new home. There are several models of live traps available at hardware stores. Choose one that is designed for rabbits or medium sized animals. It is also wise to check with your local regulations about trapping and relocating wild animals at this time. 

  1. Place the trap near the border of your garden so that it is partially concealed by brush of foliage.
  2. Set the trap with fresh veggies in the evening just before dusk, as rabbits come out to feed in late evening and early morning. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting the trap.
  3. Check the trap in the morning.
  4. Cover the trap with a blanket or old towel and transport the entire trap to a new location to release the rabbit. Choose an area several miles way from your home so that he cannot find his way back to your garden.

 When using living traps, check the traps frequently and avoid setting them in direct sunlight during the day. Trapped rabbits can overheat quickly in the summer sun. 

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