Keep rabbits out garden

Keeping Rabbits Out of the Kitchen Garden

by Helga Olkowski
June 2000
from issue #27

When Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Rabbit warned Peter not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden, the admonition went in one of Peter’s large ears and out the other. And so it goes today. Vegetable gardens, orchards, and ornamental plants are highly attractive to rabbits, especially during droughts and long winters or where urbanization has reduced their wildland habitat.

A childhood perspective on rabbits as mischievous but benign cuddly animals usually fails to prepare adults for their first encounter with wild rabbits running amok among their prized cabbages. The distraught gardener is left furious about the damage but dreading the idea of harming those undeniably cute rabbits.

Fortunately, there are practical ways to outwit the wild rabbits without doing them harm.

Know your rabbit and its ways
There are two groups of wild rabbits that can become problems in the garden: jackrabbits (Lepus spp., a type of hare) and cottontails (Sylvilagus spp., a true rabbit). The blacktailed jackrabbit, the most common species, is a mottled brownish-gray with a black strip extending along the tail to the rump. It weighs 4 to 8 pounds and is 19 inches long, with 4- to 7-inch-long ears, short front legs, and long hind legs. Cottontail rabbits are smaller in size than jackrabbits and hares. The Eastern cottontail, the most widespread species, averages 12 inches in length and weighs 2 to 4 pounds. Its fur appears gray or brownish-gray. Its ears are smaller than those of jackrabbits, and its hind feet are much larger than its forefeet. Its short white tail resembles a cottonball—hence its common name.

Biology and behavior. Rabbits do not have a long life span. Jackrabbits average five to six years, and cottontails live about two years in the wild. But they make the most of it by producing two to six litters per year, each litter yielding two to eight young rabbits.

Unlike the European rabbit, neither jackrabbits nor cottontails dig burrows. Jackrabbits prefer the wide open spaces where they nest in natural depressions in the ground. This choice appears related to the fact that they run at a rate of 30 mph and leap 20 feet in a single bound to escape predators such as coyotes, snakes, hawks, and human hunters. Cottontails are slower and prefer to nest in a more protected environment, such as brushy fence rows, debris-filled gullies, or landscaped back yards.

Where food and cover are plentiful, rabbits tend to stay put. Cottontails can live their entire lives within a 3- to 10-acre area; jackrabbits may forage within only a 2-mile roundtrip from their nesting site. This characteristic combined with their frequent reproduction enables rabbits to quickly fill any empty habitat created when other rabbits are trapped and removed. That is why fencing gardens when you’re in rabbit country is so important.

Food preferences. Rabbits feed morning and evening throughout the year, primarily on grass. Jackrabbits consume up to 1 pound of green vegetation each day. Eight jackrabbits are estimated to eat as much as a sheep, and 41 jackrabbits to eat as much as a cow. The smaller cottontails also have large appetites, especially for plants in the rose family: apple trees, raspberries, and blackberries, in addition to roses themselves. Rabbits eat flowers (especially tulips) and vegetables in the spring and summer. In winter, they concentrate on gnawing on twigs, buds, and the bark of young fruit trees, vines, and shrubs, seeking the green food material located just under the bark. The gnawing can girdle the trunks, stunting growth and occasionally killing the plants.

Recognize rabbit damage
If you walk out into your garden one morning and notice that it looks like someone took a pruning shear and snipped off the stems of young plants with clean, angled cuts, mowed your lettuces and beet foliage to the ground, or gnawed rings around the trunks of trees or vines, extending upward to about 2-1⁄2 feet, your garden has likely been visited by a rabbit or two. To confirm your suspicions, look around for the ubiquitous 1⁄4- to 1⁄2-inch round fecal pellets that rabbits seem to drop constantly. The presence of their characteristic footprints, consisting of an alternating pattern of small front feet and large back feet, is another clue to the identity of the culprit.

An ounce of prevention . . .
Where rabbits are concerned, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. The most humane method for protecting your plants from foraging rabbits is to exclude their access to the plants, as well as to reduce the habitat for rabbit nests and cover in the vicinity of your garden.

Barrier fencing. Constructing a simple wire fence around the part of the garden containing vegetables and other highly rabbit-vulnerable plants is an almost foolproof method for protecting plants from rabbits. Cottontails will not jump a 2-foot-high fence. Jackrabbits can jump higher if they are being chased by dogs or otherwise frightened, so
extending the height of the fence to at least 3 feet is warranted where jackrabbits are present.

A 30- to 36-inch-high fence constructed from woven wire with a mesh no larger than 1 inch is recommended for excluding rabbits. The lower end of the wire mesh should be turned outward at a 90-degree angle and buried 6 inches in the ground to discourage rabbits from digging under the fence. Regular 20-gauge poultry netting supported by stakes can provide protection from rabbits for three to five years and is inexpensive to replace. Welded wire will provide protection for longer periods.

Electric fencing. Rabbits (as well as raccoons and skunks) can also be excluded by electric fencing. This approach is very versatile because electric fencing is portable and can be removed and stored when rabbit activity ceases or the growing season ends. Six strands of electric wire spaced 3 inches apart, with alternating hot and ground wires, should deter most rabbits.

Cylinders and tree guards. Sometimes it is easier to protect individual plants than to exclude rabbits from an entire garden. Tree trunks and young shrubs can be protected from rabbit damage by encircling them with a cylinder of poultry netting or welded wire with 1-to 2-inch mesh. Cut the wire into 24-inch-wide strips (or a little wider where packed snow extends a rabbit’s reach) and long enough to go around the tree. Bury the bottom of the wire 2 to 3 inches deep and anchor the cylinder with lath or rebar to ensure that it stands at least 2 inches away from the trunk so rabbits cannot push against the cylinder and reach the plant.

Commercial tree guards made from aluminum, nylon mesh wrapping, or treated jute cardboard are effective barriers to rabbits, as are homemade wrappings of aluminum foil or jute bags.

Habitat reduction. Total elimination of rabbits in the environment is neither necessary, desirable, nor even possible without catastrophic results to other species that feed on them. But it is possible to manipulate the habitat close to the garden to remove the cover and nesting sites required by rabbits to survive and reproduce. By selectively removing brush piles, weed patches, dumps, stone piles, and other debris where rabbits live and hide, you may induce rabbits near the garden to relocate voluntarily to more hospitable habitat. Although this won’t totally solve your rabbit problem, it will help reduce rabbit populations close to the garden.

Repellents. Commercial repellents that make plants distasteful to rabbits can provide some protection to plants for short periods of time. Common repellents include ammonium soaps, capsaicin (hot pepper), naphthalene (moth balls), and blood meal. These materials need to be reapplied to unprotected new growth, and after rainfall or sprinkler irrigation washes the repellent off plant leaves. They should not be applied to edible portions of the plant.

Trapping. If all else fails, and if only a few rabbits are feeding in the garden, the rabbits can be lured into live traps and relocated. Be aware, though, that trapping is usually effective only with cottontail rabbits, which generally lack the high level of trap shyness exhibited by jackrabbits. Sturdy wire live traps can be purchased from garden centers, hardware stores, or seed catalogs. In some areas, you may be able to rent traps from animal control offices or pest
control companies.

Traps are most effective when used in winter, or during foggy or rainy nights during warm periods. Place them where you have observed rabbits feeding or resting, and keep them near shrubs or other cover so rabbits can reach them without having to cross wide, open areas. Covering the trap with a piece of canvas or other dark material can increase its effectiveness. If rabbits don’t enter a trap within four or five days, move the trap to another location.

In the warm season, traps can be baited with whatever the rabbit has been eating. Apples and fresh vegetables such as carrots, beans, or a cabbage leaf rolled tightly and held together with a toothpick make good baits. In winter, a dried corn cob (available from feed or pet stores), dried apples, and alfalfa are excellent baits. Place the bait on the floor at the rear of the trap (or impale corn cobs on the nail often built into traps for that purpose).

Check to see whether and where local regulations permit releasing rabbits, and transport them at least several miles from where they were captured. Do not release them where they may create a problem for someone else.

Rabbits not the problem? Maybe it’s another critter, and here’s what to do about it:
• Protect Your Garden from Woodchucks
• Much Ado About Moles
• Oh, Deer
• How to Control Voles in Your Garden

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Is My Rabbit Fence Useless?

Last year my beautiful garden bed of salad greens was decimated in one night by a gang of rabbits. All of the spinach, romaine, and arugula was chewed down to little nubs overnight.

They didn’t touch the Swiss Chard for some reason, so we ate a lot of that last summer. Got pretty tired of Swiss Chard.

To my wife, cute. To my dog, a plaything. To me, a villainous monster

This year I was determined to not let a rabbit attack happen again. In March I bought three-foot-high metal fencing with two-inch mesh and metal fence stakes to support it. The rabbit fence was buried one foot below ground and folded outwards underground so rabbits couldn’t dig under it to gain access to my always delightful smorgasbord. Sylvilagus floridanus would pillage no more.

A few days ago while checking my tomato seedlings, I thought I saw a rabbit run past me. It happened so fast, in the blink of an eye, that it was one of those did that just happen? moments. In March I had worked my ass off putting that rabbit fence in and felt confident that no rabbit would be able to breach it. Magically, the rabbit disappeared from the corner I tracked him to, instilling great doubt in me. Had he dematerialized?

I was confused. It was very early in the morning, I was fresh out of bed and I only saw the “rabbit” in my peripheral vision, so I wasn’t exactly sure it had actually happened. But since my trusty dog Belle was all excited, jumping up and down and staring off into the distance at something, I figured it probably was true.

I checked every inch of the rabbit fence that afternoon and everything was intact. Just to be safe, I re-wired some possible but unlikely entry points. I must have imagined it, I thought. Maybe I was hallucinating without my first cup of caffeine. I must have mistaken a squirrel for a rabbit because he couldn’t just disappear like that.

Today I was eating my lunch, staring out the kitchen window when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a big, fat rabbit walking slowly through my garden like he was the Garden King. I wasn’t having any of it.

Belle takes a sun bath

Throwing down my plate and fork, I rallied Belle, slipped on a pair of old sneakers (untied) near the door and we went bounding down the yard and into the garden.

“A bunny Belle, catch the bunny!” When I say this her ears stand up and her legs move twice as fast as her canine eyes scan the perimeter.

I jumped over the garden fence and in, Belle ran to the far side. I started clapping my hands and making loud sounds to flush the rabbit out from behind the thick raspberry brambles.

Rabbit appeared, ran to the far end to make his escape, saw Belle, did a one-eighty, ran back towards me, saw me, stopped dead in his tracks, considering his options. His nose twitched and his evil, beady little black eyes locked on me.

I started walking towards him, stalking the prey which had eluded me these many years. Belle began to slowly close the gap. Rabbit, the bane of my gardening existence, was finally within my grasp. Oh, what I’d do to Rabbit when I picked him up by his fat scruffy neck, fattened on my greens. Our epic struggle was about to end. He was cornered like Steve McQueen on his motorcycle in The Great Escape. One minute to theme music and credits.

As if launched from a cannon, Rabbit turned ninety degrees and bounded down the path between the two longest raised garden beds. I gave chase, Belle followed on the far side. Rabbit turned hard right down the next path, then hard left to the front of the rabbit fence and JUMPED THE FENCE LIKE IT WAS NOTHING, LIKE HE HAD USED A TRAMPOLINE TO GO OVER IT! Rabbit kept running, impossibly fast for Belle to catch, although she tried…for about seven seconds.

I almost wept. The struggle is real.

For most people, the thought of a rabbit conjures a cute, cuddly little creature. For gardeners, though, these critters can be one of our nightmares. Known to wreak havoc on a garden, rabbits will gnaw on tender plants and even build nests among the shrubs. There are a few things you can try to deter rabbits from getting comfortable in your garden.

How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

As with most rodents and even deer, fencing is one of the best ways to prevent rabbits from getting into your garden. Chicken wire and netting works well for young plants—simply lay them directly over the plants. For more mature plants, you’ll need to build a fence at least two-feet high, buried about six inches deep. Be sure to bend the wire away from the plant before burying it. Chicken wire with narrow openings works best.

This same concept works on a smaller scale as well. You can protect individual young plants by creating mini fences around them. Create a cylinder around your baby trees, shrubs, or vegetable plants. Use mesh with no more than a half-inch opening and, again, bend it away from the plant and bury it.

Rabbits like to nest. Take measures to keep them from making your garden their home. Remove branches from shrubs that are low-lying. Thin out or remove dense vegetation. If you find any signs of rabbit nesting, remove it.

At the farm, we also use blood meal to deter rabbits from having a feast or making a home in the gardens. Rabbits are plant-eaters, so the scent of blood meal will usually send them running. Blood meal is high in nitrogen and will need to be re-applied every 7 to 14 days.

How to Keep Rabbits Out of the Yard and Garden

From Peter Rabbit to the Easter Bunny, make-believe rabbits are the cute, furry creatures that great tales are made of. But real-life rabbits destroying your yard and garden? That’s a whole other story. Most people know that rabbits have a reputation for having a lot of babies. Quickly. And often. In fact, a female rabbit can give birth to more than 1,000 offspring in just two years. Yet, even with that many potential rabbits roaming the yard and grazing on vegetables, flowers, and plants, they can be hard to spot. You may, however, recognize these telltale signs:

  • Small piles of pea-sized droppings
  • Clean-cut leaves or razor-trimmed vegetation
  • Uprooted or missing plants, especially young seedlings and tender shoots like pea plants and Swiss chard
  • Digging, bedding down, or tufts of fur

To keep rabbits (and their rodent pals, such as squirrels and groundhogs) from cleaning out your flower or vegetable garden, you need to have a plan. Here’s how to keep them out of the garden and away from your yard.

  • Pick your plants wisely. Rabbits favor young, tender plants as well as varieties like beans, broccoli, lettuce, pansies, and petunias. While there is no such thing as a “rabbit-proof” plant, their picky palates may play in your favor. Consider planting things they have a natural distaste for, including strong-scented plants like garlic, onion, rhubarb, oregano, basil, and geranium.
  • Keep the yard and garden cleaned up. Tidy, open spaces are far less attractive to rabbits and other small animals than overgrown areas with lots of handy hiding places, so keep the lawn mowed, landscape beds weeded, and debris piles to a minimum.
  • Use repellents. Rabbits tend to turn their twitching noses away from certain scents and tastes. Use that to your advantage by applying essential oils-based repellents like Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use and Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Granules. These long-lasting, rain-resistant formulas deliver a smell and flavor that rabbits simply don’t like. Don’t forget to follow label directions.
  • Scare them away. Lights, shiny aluminum pie tins, and motion scare devices can be enough to ward off rabbits, at least for a time. Dogs and cats running free in the yard are a great deterrent, too.
  • Put up barriers. In addition to big appetites and even bigger families, rabbits are big into digging, too. Keep them from getting to your plants with chicken-wire fencing, hardware cloth, or plant cages made of livestock wire. Just be sure barriers are at least two feet high and buried at least six inches deep (though higher and deeper is better). Monitor barriers for holes, making sure to quickly repair tears and other critter-created openings.
  • Skip the live traps. While it may be tempting to try the catch-and-release method, it’s best to leave that kind of animal control to the experts. Live trapping can lead to injury to the trapper and to the animal as well (due to distress), and nobody wants that.

While rabbits are cute to look at, especially as babies, they can really damage both your vegetable and flower gardens. If you’re looking for how to keep rabbits out of the garden, I have some tried and true ways to keep your garden safe from rabbits.

How To Keep Rabbits Out Of The Garden

What You’ll Be Needing:

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION Hoont Solar Powered Motion Activated Use this solar-powered animal repeller to keep rabbits from your garden Agribon AG-19 Floating Row Crop Cover Use this to cover your crops and protect them from rabbits Spicy Globe Basil Planting these in your garden will keep bunnies out Bonide (BND2362) A strong repellent that keeps rabbits out and works for other critters too Eliminator Scarecrow Owl Decoy Using this will scare away unwanted pests and more Plantskydd Rabbits & Small Critters Organic Repellant It is used as a natural deterrent for rabbits and small critters Bird Blinder Scarecrow Fake Owl Decoy Scares away unwanted pests and more In the Breeze Silver Mylar Pinwheel Their spinning motions and sound keeps rabbits, and even birds off of your plants Havahart 1084 Easy Set One-Door Cage Trap Use this live trap to catch rabbits Outsidepride Red Clover Seed A plant that rabbits want. Place this wisely and catch your rabbit’s attention Soybean Envy D105A (Green) 80 Organic Seeds Place this away from your garden, and you’ll be able to keep your garden safe Outsidepride White Dutch Clover Seed It can be used as food plots for rabbits to keep them away from your garden

If you garden, you’re sure to have some garden enemies. As you prepare for your garden every year, keep in mind that if you plant the rabbits favorite veggies and flowers, they’ll come visit. What do they like? Lots of your veggies and flowers.

Plants that rabbits eat

  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • peas
  • asparagus
  • clematis
  • con flowers
  • black eyed Susan
  • etc.

If you plant any of these veggies, you’ll need to find ways to keep rabbits away from your garden. I asked my Facebook followers what they do to keep rabbits away from the vegetables, and got lots of ideas. Check them out below.

1. Electronic rabbit repellent

Hoont Powerful Solar Battery Powered Ultrasonic Outdoor Pest and Animal Repeller
This is by far my favorite method of keeping rabbits away from my garden.

It’s inexpensive, and it not harmful to anything in my garden: just keeps critters away (not only rabbits, but also squirrels, skunks, rats, raccoons, mice and so much more.

There are many models on the market today, but I prefer this solar battery powered ultrasonic outdoor animal & pest repeller – it’s motion activated, and makes it almost hands free (I prefer to move it around the yard occasionally to make sure I cover all areas.

If you struggle with unwanted critters in your garden and around your home, you need to give this a try.

2. Use a garden rabbit fence

Probably one of the most efficient ways to keep rabbits out of your vegetable garden is to build a fence around the garden. It doesn’t have to be too tall, unless you want to protect your garden from deer too. Chicken wire works well for this: just make sure you bury the bottom of the fence into the ground so that the bunnies can’t crawl under.

A similar idea is to use floating row covers at night (that’s when rabbits love to roam the garden).

3. Use plants that repel rabbits in your garden

Rabbits love young, fresh, delicate veggies, but they don’t care much for strong scented herbs and flowers.

Plants that keep rabbits away

Here are some plants that deter rabbits. Plant a few of them around the garden to keep the bunnies out.

  • marigolds – planted all around your garden will create a rabbit barrier (they hate the marigolds smell)
  • spicy globe basil – keep the bunnies out and make lots of pesto throughout the summer
  • Christmas basil also works well
  • onions
  • leeks
  • lavender
  • mint
  • oregano

4. Outdoor pets can help keep rabbits away

Our beloved pets are very helpful in keeping bunnies out of the backyard. It’s not only the fact hat they’ll chase the rabbits away, but the smell of the dog or cat hair and urine is enough to keep them away.

5. Remove the optimal conditions for rabbits

Rabbits will only stick around places where thy can take cover from predators. Keep your garden area organized and free of garden debris. Piles of leaves, rocks, dry plants, buckets, etc make it easy for the rabbits to hide. Also, get rid of tall grass and low bushes.

6. Keep them away with these repellents

Eliminator Scarecrow Owl Decoy with Scary Lighted Eyes and Frightening Sound – Solar Powered & Motion Activated – Realistic Predator Scares Away and Repels All Birds, Rabbits, Squirrels & other Pests

  • There’s a product called Repels All. The smell keeps rabbits out and works for other critters too.
  • You can also add used coffee grounds, egg shells, and banana peels around your garden and it seems to work for some.
  • Using ground black pepper can work, and it will keep ants away too.
  • Spray some Tabasco with water on your plants: they’ll nibble a bit, but stop once they taste the Tabasco
  • Use a natural deterrent for rabbits and small critters, like PLANTSKYD (it saved a friend’s roses and tulips last spring).
  • Irish Spring bar soap: cut the bars into 4-6 pieces, wrap a string around it and hang on your garden fence low enough at rabbit level. You can also hang them on spikes near veggies. Or, place a piece of soap into an old sock and place around the garden.
  • Try an owl decoy: rabbits are scared of owls.

7. Scare the rabbits away

Use an old hose to wrap through the garden: it works surprisingly well. The bunnies think it is a snake, and no one wants to share space with a snake.

Place pinwheels around your garden: the motion from them spinning and the sound will keep rabbits away from the garden. They will also scare birds away (this will save your tomatoes too!!!)

Related: do you have squirrels eating your bird feed? Try one of these methods to keep them away from your bird feeders.

8. Catch rabbits in a live trap

This might be lots of work for some, and fun for others. It’s not a one time method, so requires repeating periodically, as new rabbits move into your garden.

If you decide you want to use this method, make sure you have a place to take your rabbits to, but more important, make sure it’s legal to do this where you live.

Need a live trap? This one’s my favorite.

What bait should you use for the live trap? You have a few choices: rabbit pellets, carrots or cut up apples.

9. Embrace the rabbits

For some of us, rabbits bring a smile and we just want to coexist. Rabbits are hungry too, so we might put food out for them.

Plant what rabbits want. Do it away form your garden, and you’ll be able to keep your garden safe and enjoy the little hoppers in your yard too.

Outsidepride Red Clover Seed: Nitro-Coated, Inoculated – 5 LBSDavid’s Garden Seeds Bean Soy Envy D105A (Green) 100 Organic SeedsOutsidepride White Dutch Clover Seed: Nitro-Coated, Inoculated – 5 LBS

I hope you found here something that will, work out for you in your fight to keep rabbits out of the garden. If you use a different methods, please share in the comments: it could save someone’s veggie garden or flower beds.

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9.9kshares

You have worked really hard to grow and maintain a beautiful vegetable garden.

You then go out and find it has been nibbled to pieces by a pesky rabbit.

Although rabbits are cute and adorable, they can be ferocious when it comes to dining on your vegetables.

Here are a few tips to help deter those pesky rabbits from your vegetable patch.

Install A Rabbit-proof Fence

You can install a good fence around the perimeter of your garden made out of chicken wire, or similar fencing. This is probably the most expensive and most labor intensive of deterrents, but also the most effective. Remember to bury the fence 6 to 12 inches below ground so the rabbits can’t dig under it. This will also help to keep out any moles as well.

Deter Rabbits With Chili Powder or Blood Meal

You can sprinkle chili powder in a circle around plants to help deter rabbits away from your vegetable garden. The rabbits will get the chili powder on their whiskers and nose and usually stay well clear of your plants. You can also sprinkle blood meal around the perimeter of your garden. The rabbits will take offense to the smell and stay far away. Don’t worry – it doesn’t smell bad to humans. Both items will need to be reapplied after rain or heavy watering.

Use A Homemade Repellent To Deter Rabbits Away From The Garden

Mix 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, and a squirt of dish detergent with 20 ounces of warm water. Shake the mixture well to incorporate. Let it sit outside in the sun for a day, then put into a sprayer and apply to plant leaves. This homemade rabbit repellent will have rabbits running the other way. The mixture will need to be reapplied after rain or heavy watering.

Use A Humane Trap To Capture Rabbits

You can humanely trap the rabbits then release them in another environment similar to the one they were in. This can be effective for a small number of rabbits. Personally, I would use this as a last resort. Although I don’t want the rabbits in my garden, I enjoy having them in my front yard. I don’t want to evict them, just deter them away from my vegetable garden.

Divert Rabbits Away From Your Vegetable Garden

One idea that works well to deter rabbits from the vegetable garden is to use a diversion. Take some cabbage or lettuce that you are not going to eat (it’s rotted or no good for consumption), and place it in a corner of your yard away from the garden. The rabbits will go after them for food instead of the vegetable garden.

Use A Liquid Fence Rabbit Deterrent

Liquid Fence makes a great deterrent to keep rabbits and other animals away from your yard and vegetable garden. It’s a natural product that is bio-degradable and safe for pets and children. Just place the Liquid Fence around the perimeter of your garden. It may need to be reapplied after rain or heavy watering.

Pets Are Great For Deterring Rabbits Away From The Vegetable Garden

One of the best ways to deter rabbits away from your vegetable garden is a barking dog or a cat. I have two small dogs in my yard (really they lay around the house most of the time) that love to chase rabbits, squirrels, or anything else that moves. Maybe the fence isn’t so expensive after this one, huh?

If you have some tips on deterring rabbits away from your vegetable garden please share them!

Make Gardening Fun and Easy

Rabbits can devastate a garden. They eat the plants and even the vegetables and leave you with nothing. The only practical way to keep rabbits out of your garden is by fencing them out. Not all fences are rabbit proof, however. You need to make sure your fence has the several specific qualities to keep out Mr. Cottontail.

Qualities of a Rabbit Proof Fence

  • Small mesh: Most garden fences are wire mesh. Chicken wire works best, as even baby bunnies cannot squeeze through its openings.
  • L-shaped wire on rabbit-proof fence Buried wire: Rabbits are capable of digging under most fences. It is important to bury your fence at least a foot to prevent rabbits from simply digging under it. The most effective way to bury your fence is to dig a trench about eight inches wide. Lay the wire in the trench forming an L shape with the L facing outward. Then fill in the trench. This L shape is most effective at keeping rabbits from burrowing into your garden.
  • Electrified fence: Putting a “hot wire” or electric fence around the outside base of the fence will shock any creature trying to burrow under or push through it. You need two hot wires, one that is two inches from the ground and one that is four inches from the ground. When the rabbits touch the two wires, it closes a circuit and shocks them. If you use a charger meant for a garden fence, it will not kill the rabbits, simply repel them.
  • Height: Rabbits cannot climb well and cannot jump too high. A fence that is a yard in height is quite adequate to keep rabbits out.

Commercial Rabbit Proof Fences

There are not very many commercial rabbit proof fences. Three that are specially made to keep rabbits out of your garden are:

  • Easy Garden Fence EF2001 Rabbit Fence 50 ft Kit – 32 inch H – This kit in a box includes everything you need to build 50 feet of rabbit proof fence. You can buy additional kits and link them to enclose a larger area. The kit includes four poles for the corners, 3′ by 50′ of rodent proof fencing, 15 ground stakes, 50 self locking ties, drive cap, earth auger and three gate closing hooks. The advantage of this kit is that it contains everything you need to put up 50 feet of fence. The disadvantage is that the fencing is not tall enough to bury a foot of the fence, so rabbits may dig under it. It is priced under $300 for everything.
  • YARDGUARD 28 inch by 50 ft, 16 gauge Rabbit Fence- This green wire is specifically designed to keep rabbits out of the garden, with small mesh squares at the bottom and larger ones at the top. However, it is not tall enough to bury a foot in the ground and still have it be tall enough to keep rabbits from going over it, so they may burrow under it. It costs just over $40.
  • allFenz, 40 inch x 50 ft. Super Rabbit Garden Fence – This vinyl coated wire fence is designed to keep rabbits out of the garden as well. It has small mesh squares at the bottom and larger ones at the top to keep all rabbits out. Again, it is not tall enough to bury a foot in the ground and still have it be tall enough to keep rabbits from going over it, so they may burrow under it. Pick it up for around $30.

Building a Rabbit Proof Fence

This is ideal for a large garden space.

Supply List

  • Steel fence posts — one per 10 feet of fence
  • 60 inch wide chicken wire — enough to circle garden
  • Fence clips (usually sold with fence posts) — five per post
  • Shovel — to dig trench
  • Wires and garden electric fence charger, optional

Instructions

  1. Purchase chicken wire that is at least 60 inches high. This will ensure the fence is at least 36 inches high when it is finished.
  2. L-shaped wire on bottom of fence To build a rabbit proof fence, it is necessary to have steel fence posts every ten feet. Any further apart and the wire sags in the middle and the rabbits can get through it.
  3. You will need to dig a trench one foot deep and eight inches wide at the bottom of the whole fence.
  4. Lay the chicken wire in the trench forming an L shape that faces out toward the outside of the fence.
  5. Attach the wire to the poles, pulling it tight. Use five wire clips per post to attach the wire, one at the top, one at the bottom, and the rest evenly distributed between those two clips.
  6. Fill in the trench with dirt.
  7. For extra security, you may attach two wires, one at two inches and one at four inches from the ground and electrify them with a garden electric fence charger.

Portable Fence for Small Gardens

If rabbits are a problem in a small garden area or you want particular plants to reach a mature level before allowing them to grow unprotected, making portable rabbit proof fence panels do the trick. You can store the panels when not in use and pull them back out when needed. They are relatively simple to make and require a minimum of supplies. You can always make additional panels if the size of your garden grows.

  • 36 inch long x 2 inch wide wood strips, 4 for each panel created (ex.: 16 for a small square)
  • 36 inch long x 36 inch wide pieces of chicken wire, 1 per panel
  • Heavy duty stapler and staples
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Gloves
  • Wire cutter
  • Shovel
  • Flexible wire
  1. Depending on the thickness of the wood strips, nail or staple them together to form a square panel that is 36 x 36 inches. You need at least four panels to secure an area.
  2. Wearing gloves so you don’t cut your hands and cut the chicken wire into 36 inch x 36 inch pieces using wire cutters.
  3. Lay the piece of prepared chicken wire on top of the wood panel and staple it in place. Make sure to pull the wire tight so there are no gaps.
  4. Dig a trench around the small garden area you are protecting with the panels that is 6 to 7 inches deep and as wide as the number of panels you are using.
  5. Place a panel into the trench and cover with soil, firming it up with your foot so it stays in place. Make sure at least 6 inches of the panel’s bottom is covered with soil. Continue until you have all your panels installed around the small garden area.
  6. Use flexible wiring and attach to the top, middle, and bottom side portion of two panels, wiring them together so they stay in place. Continue until you have all the panels wired together at the sides.

Rabbit Proof Garden

Rabbits are cute, except when they are eating your garden to the ground. Follow these directions and tips, and you can enjoy seeing rabbits without worrying about them eating your vegetables.

by Jill Potvin Schoff

Are you planning a garden and wish to incorporate the best fencing into your design? Or do you have unidentified visitors wreaking havoc in your existing garden? We’ve scoured the web for the best garden fencing ideas to keep out garden pests. From elaborate fortresses to simple fishing line, we’ve uncovered the most effective solutions for each of the major garden threats: deer, rabbits, groundhogs and gophers. Read on to learn more about the pests invading your garden and the most tried-and-true methods of keeping them out!

Garden Pest Identification

Which type of fence will work best for your garden will depend on what you are trying to keep out. So you’ll need to start by identifying the threat. Here are some of the most common garden pests that can be fenced out. If you’re new to gardening in your area, ask local gardeners or plant nurseries which pests are prevalent in your neighborhood.

Deer: Deer are most active at night, though you will often see them at dawn and dusk as well. They usually tear at plants and leave behind rough, shredded or uprooted vegetation. They can reach much higher than other common pests, so damage more than two feet off the ground is a strong indicator. To learn more about deer identification and habits:

  • What Deer Damage Looks Like

    (Fine Gardening) – Discusses how to identify deer damage, with lots of examples.

  • Reducing Deer Damage at Home and on the Farm (Clemson University Extension) – An in-depth discussion of deer damage, exploring all types of control measures.

Rabbits: Rabbits have sharp incisors, so leaves and stems will be neatly clipped off at a 45-degree angle. They particularly like to nibble on new growth and tender young plants. Damage reaches up to 2.5 feet above the ground and is worst in the spring and early summer. They are most active at dawn and dusk. They often leave small round brownish-green droppings. Here are some resources for identifying and understanding rabbit behavior:

  • Our Family’s Square Foot Garden

    – A video with good shots of what rabbit damage looks like in the garden.

  • Cottontail Rabbits (PennState University Extension) – An in-depth discussion of rabbit control strategies.

Groundhogs / Woodchucks: Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, like to snack on vegetables and you’ll often find cucumbers or beans left lying around with bites taken out of them. They also love to eat the tops off carrots. They are active during the day, particularly in the early morning. They will have a burrow nearby with a large hole and a pile of dirt next to it.

  • Protect Your Garden From Woodchuck Damage (VegetableGardener.com) – A good overview of woodchucks and how to identify their burrows and garden damage.

Gophers: Gophers are active both day and night and typically eat your root vegetables. They also like to eat the roots of flowers, shrubs and trees. They will come above ground to eat tender vegetation. You will see evidence of tunnels.

  • Gopher ID 101

    – Discusses how to identify a gopher hole and how it differs from moles and voles.

  • Pocket Gophers (Utah State University) – A good overview of gophers and their control measures.

Best Fence Solutions

Now that you’ve identified which pest(s) you want to defend against, it’s time to look at your fencing options and decide which solution (or combination of solutions) might work best for your garden.

Some garden fencing options are expensive and complicated, some are cheap, and a few are just plain ugly, but effective. We’ve summarized each of the options to make them easy to choose from, with links to the source where you can find much more detailed information.

Best Garden Fencing for White-Tailed Deer
Deer can jump up to 8 feet high. They can step over fences as tall as 3 feet and are perfectly willing to crawl under fences as well. They can take down flimsy fences by leaning on them or running through them. Here are a couple videos that show their skills:

  • Deer Jump 12-Point Whitetail

    – Great video of just how high – and effortlessly – a deer can jump.

  • The Deer Fence

    – Deer caught on night camera crawling under a fence.

Fencing solutions are usually 8 feet tall, electrified, or use a double-fence system (two fences spaced 3 feet apart). Deer will not jump into an area that they can’t see or where there does not appear to be a safe landing spot. They avoid areas where it looks like they might get trapped. Remember that the success of the fence depends on the desperation of the deer — if the local deer population is high and food is scarce, they will try much harder to enter your garden. Some great examples of deer-proof fencing designs:

  • Innovative Deer Fence

    (Michigan Land Use Institute) – This Michigan blueberry farm uses an 8-foot fence that slants outward at a 45-degree angle. Seven strands of wire are set every 12 inches and a combination of metal and wooden poles are used. Some strands are electrified.

  • How to Build an Inexpensive Deer Fence

    (Jennifer’s Garden) – This 7-foot fence won’t last more than a few years, but it does have the advantage of being cheap and relatively easy to install. It uses a combination of metal electrical conduit and bird netting.

  • Gallagher Food Plot Protector Fence

    (Agway) – A simple electric double-fence design, using fiberglass posts with polywire and polytape. The inner fence has two polywire strands set at 10 and 24 inches. The outer fence has one polytape strand set at 18 inches.

  • How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden

    – This is just about the cheapest fence you can make, using fishing line, tin cans and plastic buckets. Best used for seasonal gardens where the deer population is not high.

  • Feral Pigs and Deer Controlled with Mega Fence

    (Georgia Peanut Commission) – A more sophisticated double-fence design with one high-tensile electric fence with strands at 18, 36, and 54 inches, and a second electric fence three feet away from the first fence (on outside) with one wire 18 inches above the ground. High-tensile fences are more work to install, but should last up to 20 years.

  • A Deer-Proof Vegetable Garden Plan (Hubpages) – This plan relies on a 4-foot plastic mesh fence, along with tightly spaced raised beds. The idea being that the raised beds serve the same purpose as a double fence — the deer sees it as a broad jump with no clear place to land. Would probably be enhanced by using lots of vertical structures to support plants in the raised beds as well.
  • Building Our Vegetable Garden Fence (Country Basket) – Nice photo essay of fence and garden gate construction, featuring 18 inches of chicken wire, then 4 feet of wire mesh, topped by two strands of electric wire. Using a combination of materials is a good way to build a tall fence without too much cost.
  • To Get In, the Deer Have to Knock (New York Times) – This beautiful and elaborate garden structure features raised beds fully enclosed by tall walls and even netting over the top.
  • Deer-Proof Electric Fence (Fine Gardening) – A simple electric fence with one strand set at 30 inches, using polytape treated with an odor-based deer repellent.
  • A Better Deer Fence (Permaculture Activist) – This clever design is sort of like a double fence, but the inner “fence” is simply a line of poles with wires at the top connecting it to the outer fence.
  • Deer Fencing (Notes from Windward) – An inexpensive way to extend the height of a fence is baling twine. Simply extend your fence poles higher and string baling twine in strands 12 inches apart.
  • How to Build a Wood Privacy Fence (Buildipedia) – A six-foot privacy fence also makes an effective deer barrier, as deer do not like to jump into an area they can’t see. The drawbacks are high cost and the shade it can throw on your garden.
  • Construct a Chicken Moat (Mother Earth News) – Wondering what to do with the space in between fences if you use a double-fence system? Consider using it as a chicken moat!
  • Houzz.com – Browse photos of attractive deer-proof fences from top landscape architects.
  • TheDeerFence.com – Browse photos of deer fences and gates built by this custom fence company in New York.

Best Garden Fencing for Rabbits
Rabbits can jump as high as 3 feet, but luckily they rarely seem inclined to do so. They can squeeze through any opening bigger than their head. They will crawl under gaps in the bottom of a fence, but will not burrow deeply. See them in action here:

  • Rabbit Eating Garden Plants

    – Nice footage showing how fast a bunny eats plants.

  • One Rabbit Escapes from Cage

    – Cute video of a rabbit easily digging under chicken wire and escaping.

  • Danish Rabbit Hopping Championships 2010

    – Believe it or not, there is a rabbit hopping championship and it is impressive!

Fencing for rabbits does not need to be tall (2 feet is generally sufficient), but it needs to be tough (to prevent them from gnawing through it) and have no gaps larger than 1 inch. The fence needs to be set a few inches into the ground or bent out at a 90-degree angle at the bottom to prevent them from burrowing under.

  • How to Install a Rabbit-Proof Fence

    (Howcast) – This quick and easy fence uses metal poles and vinyl-coated chicken wire, with the bottom of the fence buried 3 inches deep. The coated chicken wire is a good choice, since bare metal disintegrates quickly when buried.

  • Rabbit Fencing

    (eHowPets) – In this video, chicken wire is added to the bottom of an existing fence to add rabbit protection.

  • How to Protect the Vegetable Garden (Heirloom Gardener) – This gardener created 5×8 screens to fit around her raised beds, after rabbits overcame two earlier fencing efforts.
  • How to Build an Anti-Rabbit Fence and Coldbox Frame (Tiny Prairie Farm) – This raised bed fence has has a wooden frame around the top of the fence so that it can support plastic and double as a cold frame in the spring and fall.
  • Rock Solid Raised Bed (Handpicked Nation) – A raised bed made of stone block (or wood) at least 24 inches tall is also an effective barrier against rabbits.
  • The Art of the Electric Garden Fence (Mother Earth News) – Electric polywire or electric netting can also prevent rabbit intrusion. One wire strung 3-4 inches off the ground is usually sufficient. If you use netting, be sure to keep it electrified or they will chew through it.

Best Garden Fencing for Groundhogs / Woodchucks
Groundhogs are tough because they can both climb high and dig quite deep. They are also good at squeezing into small spaces (especially the babies). Check out these two videos to see them close-up:

  • Woodchuck Eating Tree Leaves

    – This footage shows how quickly a groundhog devours leaves.

  • Groundhog Climbing 12 Foot Fence

    – This is why simply having a tall fence doesn’t work with groundhogs.

Fencing for groundhogs needs to be at least 3 feet high. Ideally the top foot of the fence should be loose so that it wobbles if groundhogs try to climb over it. Alternatively, you could have an electrified wire at the top. The fencing also needs to extend outwards 1-2 feet at a 90-degree angle at the bottom, preferably buried a few inches in the ground, to prevent them from burrowing under. The fencing material needs to be tough (to prevent them from gnawing through it) and have no gaps larger than two inches.

  • C-Fence To Protect Garden

    (Completely Nourished) – This simple fence consists of 4 feet of chicken wire, with the top foot loose and bent outwards and the bottom foot bent outwards 90 degrees at the bottom (thus forming a “C” shape).

  • Groundhogs: Living With Wildlife (Mass Audubon) – Instead of bending the bottom of the fence, this system shows one flat 3-foot wide piece of chicken wire lying flat on the ground, with the fence built on top of it. The vertical fence would need to be secured to the horizontal fence at regular intervals to be effective.
  • Dealing with Woodchuck Damage (University of New Hampshire) – This in-depth discussion of groundhog control strategies recommends an electric fence with strands at 4 and 8 inches off the ground.

Best Garden Fencing for Gophers
Gophers usually approach from below ground, through a series of tunnels, but they can approach above ground as well. They are capable of climbing over short fences or ducking under or through them.

  • Gopher In the Garden

    – You won’t often see your gopher nemesis, but this video caught him in action.

  • An Evaluation of Fencing to Exclude Pocket Gophers (University of Nebraska) – This study indicates that even 2 feet may be too shallow a depth for burying the fence. Some studies report seeing them burrow over 6 feet down!

Raised beds lined with hardware cloth are the best solution. Without raised beds, fencing should be at least 1 foot high, and extend into the ground at least 2 feet. Mesh should have holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Always choose galvanized or coated fencing for buried applications or add two coats of rust-proof paint to untreated metal. Be sure to check the integrity of the wire each year.

  • Living With Wildlife: Pocket Gophers (Washington Fish & Wildlife) – This publication suggests burying 1/2-inch mesh hardware cloth at least 24 inches in the ground and bending the bottom 6 inches outwards at a 90-degree angle.
  • How to Gopher Proof Your Raised Bed Garden

    (Growing Your Greens) – This video recommends 1/2-inch galvanized hardware cloth to line your raised beds.

  • How to Build a Gopher Cage (Tasty Landscape) – For protecting individual trees or perennial plants, cages can be built out of hardware cloth.
  • How to Gopher-Proof an Existing Raised Bed (Northcoast Gardening) – A good tutorial on adding a lining of hardware cloth to an existing raised bed.
  • My Critter-Proof Raised Bed Garden Beds (DoItYourself.com) – This design is pricey, but the combination of raised beds and tall fences provides complete protection. Hardware cloth in the beds and landscape fabric in the walkways prohibit burrowing visitors

Fencing Cost

Fencing costs vary greatly depending on the materials used and the length and height of the fence needed. You will need to calculate the cost of the posts, fencing material, fasteners for securing the fence to the posts, tools that may be needed for digging the holes and stretching the fence, electric charger (if needed), as well as the time and manpower required to install the fence.

The initial cost must be weighed against the life expectancy of the fence, the amount of maintenance required to keep it in good condition, and whether there are ongoing costs (such as electricity). Another factor influencing the cost is the terrain — rocky, hilly or swampy terrain will increase installation time and cost. Below are some resources for calculating cost. Most of them are focused on keeping livestock in, rather than pests out, but fencing types for both goals are generally the same:

  • Fencing Materials for Livestock Systems (Virginia Cooperative Extension) – An excellent overview of fencing, with detailed comparisons of the cost and longevity of various types of fence posts and fence materials. Compares woven wire, barbed wire, board fences, high-tensile wire, polywire, and polyribbon.
  • Estimated Livestock Fencing Cost for the Small-Farm Owner (University of Florida) – Compares cost of barbed wire, woven wire, and electrified polywire.
  • Fencing Out Wildlife (USDA Forest Service) – Compares the cost of materials and labor for electric polyrope, plastic mesh and high-tensile electric fences.

Fencing Installation & Maintenance

Before selecting a fencing solution, it is important to understand the requirements for its installation and maintenance. The following resources should help you with the basics of good fencing:

  • Guide to How to Build a Fence (Mother Earth News) – Excellent general advice on fence building.
  • How to Build Long-Lasting Gates (Mother Earth News) – Be sure that your garden gate is not your weakest link.
  • The Art of Electric Garden Fence (Mother Earth News) – All you need to know about electric fences.

Fences are a lot of work, so it makes sense to help them last as long as possible. There are two things that will destroy your garden fence faster than anything else: moisture and weeds. Any part of your fence that touches the ground should be treated in some way. Metal should either be galvanized, coated with vinyl or polyester, or sprayed with two coats of rust-proof paint. Wood should be rot-resistant or pressure-treated. If you are growing edible crops, be sure whatever materials will come in direct contact with the soil of your garden beds is nontoxic.

  • Building Raised Beds for Planting (EcologyCenter.org) – Good information on types of raised bed materials, their durability, nontoxic level, and environmental impact.

Have a weed-management strategy for your fence line. If it’s an electric fence, weeds can short out your fence. If it’s not an electric fence, weeds will hold moisture and climb your fence, quickening its deterioration. Weeds also provide shelter for critters approaching your fence. If you plan on using a weed trimmer, be sure the fencing material is strong enough to stand up to it — trimmers will tear plastic netting and get tangled in wire mesh. A better idea may be to line the area to either side of your fence with gravel or mulch or even corrugated sheet metal — anything that will keep the area weed-free. This has the added bonus of making visual inspections of your fence easy.

  • Ideas to Get Rid of Weeds Along Fence Row (GardenWeb) — Lot of ideas for weed suppression from this gardening forum.

Did we miss any terrific garden fencing designs that we should have included here? If so, leave a comment with a link so we can check it out.

Have you tried any of these fences and seen success or failure? Let us know.

Author Jill Potvin Schoff learned gardening from her mother and grandmother in the green mountains of Vermont. She continues her adventures in gardening in Connecticut and specializes in writing on eco-friendly topics.

How to create a rabbit-free zone

  • Use a fine-gauge, galvanised netting wire such as chicken wire. The mesh should be 2.5 cm (1in) in diameter and 1m-1.2m (40in-48in) high.
  • Use pointed timber posts that have been treated with preservative, 1.8 m (6 ft) long and with a diameter of 7.5 cm (3in). Space them 2m (6ft) apart.
  • Support the netting and stop it sagging between the posts with a roll of fine, strong, galvanised or plastic-coated wire along the top.
  • Use a crowbar to make the initial hole, then drive the posts at least 45cm (18in) into the ground. If using a sledgehammer, protect the top of the stake from splitting by nailing a short length of 2cm (1in) thick board on the top. It may be necessary to concrete the posts in place if the soil is loose.
  • Laying the bottom of the wire on the surface of the soil is no deterrent. Rabbits will simply burrow under it. So dig a 7cm-10 cm (3in-4in) trench sloping outwards and bend the netting wire out from ground level into it so that it stretches 25cm-30cm (10in-12in) beyond the line of posts. Back-fill the trench with soil.
  • Fasten the netting to the posts with staples but don’t drive them in all the way so that they can be removed easily with pliers at a later date.
  • Staple the single strand of wire to the post, level with the top of the netting, and attach the two with C-shaped metal clips or tying wire.
  • Any opening in the fence must also be rabbit-proof. Dig a narrow trench across the opening and place in it a 30cm (12in) wide and 2cm (1 in) thick board (a length of old scaffolding plank is ideal). Allow 5cm (2in) to project above the soil surface. The gate must have a bottom board – so the two boards overlap tightly when it is closed – and it should open outwards.
  • You can disguise fencing in summer by planting nasturtiums to grow up the netting. Materials Rolls of galvanised chicken netting wire 1m-1.2m (40in-48in) high Several 1.8m (6ft) high, 7.5cm (3in) diameter, pointed, treated timber posts (one every 6ft plus one more)

Materials

Rolls of galvanised or plastic-coated wire Staples Metal clips Timber to make gate One 100cm x 30cm x 5cm (39in x 12in x 2in) length of timber board Two hinges

Tools

Crowbar, spade, hammer, saw, sledgehammer or post-driver

Protective gear

Gloves, protective boots and goggles

Shed with a view

Q. How many television crew members can you fit in a potting shed?

A. More than you would think

In my own garden there is no potting shed – not even a designated potting area. Instead, I use the utility room, sun lounge, garage, glass-house or, when weather permits, I work outside at a garden bench.

However, if I did have a personal potting shed it would probably be full of all the “useful” things I never get around to using. But then I am lucky… as presenter of The Greenmount Garden for BBC Northern Ireland I have the use of a fantastic, specially designed potting shed.

The programme’s producer, Diane Dunbar, ordered us a timber shed from Halls; I insisted on water and electricity for the kettle and we have space for a range of composts, pots and all the other essentials. The bench is at the right height to avoid back-ache and the cameramen requested – and got – a good view of the interior from outside. It works a treat and, with gingham curtains on the window and a door bell, is beautifully finished.

At important times in the gardening calendar I spend two days a week in front of the camera, so it is a bonus to be able to propagate seedlings, sow seeds and pot in between filming.

One especially pleasing feature of this whole arrangement is that our horticultural researcher, Lori, tidies up when I record, so that when I return to the shed it is tidy, with surplus compost back in its bag, labels back in their box and the pots once again in neat piles.

The Greenmount campus itself, in County Antrim, is the bountiful source of a wide range of unusual young plants to be potted. The shed is used for the production of vegetables, annuals and perennials for the TV garden.

Now let me give you a handy tip or two that I have learnt in the potting environs: if you have a three-sided tray on the bench for holding compost, then use stiff plastic sheeting to eliminate the vertical sides where the compost lodges. Allow it to bend down and out on to the base of the tray. That way the pile of compost will keep sliding towards you as you pot.

And here’s another tip: if you don’t use a lot of compost, use it as a mulch in autumn rather than storing it until spring.

One final observation on the singularity of this particular outbuilding… when the fine, soft, Irish rain descends on Greenmount Garden, you would not credit how many producers, camera, sound and light men, researchers and presenters are able to fit into a potting shed.

JC

  • ‘The Greenmount Garden’, BBC One Northern Ireland, is available on cable, satellite and freeview channels on Wednesdays from April 4 (www.greenmountgarden.co.uk).

How To Keep Rabbits Out Of Gardens

How to keep rabbits out of gardens is a problem that has been puzzling gardeners since the very first person put a seed in the ground. While some people may think rabbits look cute and fuzzy, any gardener who has dealt with a rabbit problem knows they are anything but. Keeping rabbits out of a garden is a challenge but it can be done.

Tips to Keep Rabbits Out of Garden

Here are some things you can try to keep rabbits out of the garden:

Smells Rabbits Dislike

One easy way to have rabbit control in gardens is to add things to your garden that the rabbits will not like the smell. Try sprinkling dried blood around the garden to keep rabbits out of the yard. Or pour some coyote, fox or wolf urine around the perimeter of your garden. Hair from these same animals also works well for rabbit control in gardens.

The dried blood, animal hair and animal urine is available at your local garden center. You can even try training your dog to pee near (but not in) your

vegetable and flower beds to help with keeping rabbits out of a garden. The smell of the blood or the urine will tell the rabbit that this is a dangerous place and to stay away.

Garden Fences for Rabbits

A rabbit fence for gardens can also help with keeping rabbits out of the garden. The fence does not need to be high, just 2 to 3 feet tall, but you should bury the fence up to 6 inches under the ground as rabbits are very good diggers.

The easiest way to add a rabbit proof fence to the garden is to dig a trench around the bed, install the fence in the trench and then back fill the trench. A rabbit fence for gardens does not have to be expensive. You can use the cheap chicken wire and that will work just fine for keeping rabbits out of a garden.

Rabbit Traps

There are two types of traps used for rabbit control in gardens. One is a humane trap and one is a trap that will kill the rabbits. Which you use depends entirely on who you are and how much you hate rabbits. Humane traps tend to look like cages that are designed to lure the rabbit in and keep it trapped until someone comes to relocate it.

Traps that kill are typically designed to kill the rabbit quickly and relatively painlessly. These don’t technically keep rabbits out of the yard but it does ensure that they will not come back.

Plant Cages

You can also build plant cages from chicken wire to cover plants that rabbits find particularly tasty. Plants like lettuce, peas, beans and other tender leaved vegetables are favorites of rabbits. Build cages to deter the rabbits. The nice thing about this option is that it will also deter other pests, like deer.

While rabbits are difficult garden pests to deal with, once you learn how to keep rabbits out of gardens they can once again become the cute, fuzzy critters that everyone else loves.

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