As every gardener knows, there are two kinds of rabbits: the ones you see in the pet store, which are cute, cuddly, and as sweet as can be; and the other ones who ravenously devour every single thing in your garden if given the chance. If your goal is to never see another rabbit-munched leaf in your garden, there are a variety of rabbit and repellents to rid your flowers and veggies of these little pests.
Most homeowners feel stuck when this problem starts to present itself. This is due to the fact that these are, after all, harmless creatures out foraging for food. And you have provided them with a wealth of that. It takes a little research, but you can rid your yard of this hopping pest.
Here are some of the most effective control methods:
- Maintenance. Rabbits come out at night to find food and play. They are timid creatures that need brush and debris nearby for quick protection. If you keep your yard well maintained they will not feel safe due to the wide open spaces. Mow, weed, and prune regularly.
- Dried blood meal. It sounds a little gruesome, but this gardening tip is quite effective. Dried blood meal is a by-product of the meat-packing industry and can be found in any gardening center. Sprinkle some around each of the plants in your yard or around the entire border of your garden, if you like. Rabbits don't like the smell and will usually stay away. The dried blood meal will have to be reapplied after you water or after every rain shower.
- Traps. You can place humane traps (also called catch-and-release traps) around the edges of your garden. Bait them with a bit of the produce that rabbits find so irresistible. When you release the trapped animals though, do so at least five miles away from your garden. Otherwise, all you've done is given the rabbits a bit of exercise, which will undoubtedly make them even hungrier when they find their way back! These traps can be harmful, so don't use them if there will be children near your yard.
- Chicken-wire fencing. You can encircle your garden with a fence made of chicken-wire that stands at least two feet high. This option is fairly inexpensive, permanent (at least for the growing season) and safe. To be really effective, though, you'll need to bury the wire several inches in the ground. You don't want those rascally rabbits burrowing underneath!
- Electric fencing. This is an entirely permanent solution. Electric fencing doesn't have to be dug into the ground, but it does have to be low enough that the rabbits can't go underneath. If you make your fence tall enough, it can even deter other critters, such as raccoons and deer. However, it is expensive and even though the voltage used is very low, it can give a shock to children and pets.
- Scare them away with bigger animals. If you have a cat or dog, let them chase the rabbits away. After a few times of this, the rabbits won't be so eager to come back.
- Hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is a steel mesh material that can be found in the garden center or any home improvement store. You will need tin snips to cut it. Place a piece around the base of any plants, shrubs and trees. The rabbits will quickly tire of trying to chew through the impenetrable material and move.
- Guns. This method is crude, but it works. In some places you are allowed to shoot these animals. If you are uneasy about killing them you can always use a pellet gun. This will sting the rabbit but not leave a bullet or a wound.
If none of these tactics appeal to you, there are a variety of commercial repellents on the market. Keep in mind, though, that none of them are 100 percent effective.
- All Natural. The safest type of repellents are those made of natural ingredients. They will not harm children or small pets when applied. Fox urine, lavender, garlic and catnip are scents that will repel rabbits. Monkshood and foxglove are two herbs that can also be used if you do not have children or pets. This is due to the fact that they are extremely poisonous.
- Chemical Repellents. Chemical repellents can be purchased at any garden store. These cannot be placed on plants that are to be eaten due to the toxins used.
- Fungicides. Fungicides that contain a chemical called Thiram will act as rabbit repellents when sprayed directly on plants. Due to the fact that this product is used to treat fungus, it is safe to use.
It is important to remember that there may be laws in your area regarding the removal of animals. The best thing to do is call your local ASPCA to find out if there are any restrictions where you live.