Bunnies in the Garden…What Works, What Doesn’t

by Sandy Swegel

We’ve had a bunny explosion the last few years. Population growth has been so pronounced that just walking around the neighborhood in the morning I see at least two bunnies per front yard. The problem with bunnies is that they make babies like crazy and each bunny eats a lot of plants. They particularly like young tender plants and flowers which is devastating for the garden.

If you are serious about protecting your garden from rabbits, you must be vigilant.

Strategies that Work

GET the rabbits out of your garden.

KEEP the rabbits out of your garden.

 

This is the only strategy that really works. And it takes a lot of vigilance to build an effective barrier and perseverance to get every bunny that comes into the yard out of there.

First, you have to have a really good fence that goes all the way into the ground. Wood is just another food for bunnies so you’re going to need supplemental chicken wire or a stone barrier at the base. Every time there is another rabbit in your garden you have to figure out how it got in and close that opening. And you have to remember to always keep the gate closed. I can remember the sneaky bunny that waited while I rolled the garbage can out to sneak in the yard.

Second, for the rabbits already in your garden, you have to trap them or dispatch them or even get the dog to chase them out an open gate which you quickly shut behind them.

I know people who live-trap the rabbits and bring them to rescue places, and I know people who sit in their gazebo in the evening with a beer and a shotgun. You have to determine your level of lethality. But you have to get rid of the bunnies.

Strategies that sorta work but don’t solve the problem

Repellents
An otherwise intelligent friend has strung soap across her yard because she read on the internet that Irish Spring works. It doesn’t. Bunnies are darn smart and aren’t kept from a succulent meal because something smells funny. They also don’t fall for the fox urine scent thing…They look around. They can see there is no fox. Repellents can work for the plant you spray them on….if you keep respraying. But you’ll go broke buying repellant for every plant in your yard.

Dogs
Dogs do keep down the number of rabbits, but dogs on the hunt for rabbits can dig holes and tear up your garden better than any rabbit can.

Trap crops
Some people try growing plants like clover the bunnies love to keep them off the good plants. This is marginally successful in the short term, but ultimately, you’re feeding the bunnies.

What bunnies have going for them is that they are incredibly cute and fertile. They also have the support of your neighbors who feed them. A neighborhood-wide eradication program might work, otherwise, you just have to build your fortress and keep it defended. If you’re lucky like a friend of mine is, a great horned owl will move into one of your trees and take care of the would-be intruders.

Photos:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_horned_owl
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/1386301/how-to-rabbit-proof-raised-beds
http://pestkill.org/other/rabbits/how-to-keep-out-of-garden/

 
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