How to Keep Rabbits Out of the Garden

Rabbits nibble the foliage of almost any garden plant, returning day and night to finish the job. Rabbits tend to eat vegetables and flowers in spring and summer; sprouting tulips are a favorite spring treat. In fall and winter, they favor twigs and bark and can cause considerable damage to landscape trees and shrubs.

Here are some techniques to foil rabbits:

  • Fencing: The best way to keep rabbits away from your plants is to fence them out. Because they burrow, a fence must also extend underground. Choose a 4-foot-high, chicken-wire fence with 1-inch mesh. Bury the bottom foot of the fence, bending the lowest 6 inches into a right angle facing outward.

  • Trunk protectors: Protect tree trunks with a cylinder of 1/4-inch hardware cloth or other wire mesh. (Larger mesh works for rabbits, but the 1/4-inch size protects trees from gnawing mice, too.) The material should be a few inches away from the trunk and extend high enough that rabbits standing on snow can’t reach above it. You can also get commercial tree guards.

  • Repellents: Repel rabbits with hair gathered from hair salons and dog groomers. Sprinkle it around the boundary of a garden and replenish it every few weeks. You can also purchase commercial repellents that are made to spray on the ground or directly on plants. Because most of these sprays repel by taste, use them only on ornamental plants, and follow label directions carefully.

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