As cute as rabbits may be, the damage they can do to your flowers and vegetables is anything but adorable. If you’re tired of having your landscape dug up and chewed up, there are ways to get rid of the rabbits in your yard that won’t harm your plants or the wildlife.
Reduce the Rabbit Attraction Factor
Rabbits are drawn to places that offer not only food, but also water and safe hiding spots. Creating a less rabbit-friendly landscape reduces the likelihood these creatures will make their home near yours.
Start by removing possible rabbit hiding places. Mow tall grass and brush, and remove debris such as fallen branches and piles of leaves. Trim the lower branches of your shrubbery so rabbits can’t hide behind them.
Survey for other landscape features that can be fenced off to discourage rabbits. This includes the porch, garden shed, stairs and other structures outdoors that make attractive burrowing spots. Because rabbits prefer to live near a water source, a stream or pond on your property adds to its appeal. Willow, oak, and maple trees, which rabbits find especially tasty, are another potential draw.
Fence Off the Rabbits’ Favorite Spots
It’s rarely necessary to fence the entire perimeter of your property just to get rid of rabbits in your yard and garden. A fence this long is expensive to build and a hassle to maintain. For a more practical solution, fence off only the areas that are attracting the rabbits.
Look for holes near structures such as your porch or shed, which are likely to be rabbit burrows. Seal these holes with chicken wire or wood. Before you do, though, make sure there are no rabbits in the burrow.
To protect small, young trees from rabbits, shield them tree guards, also known as tree shelters or spiral shelters. These spiral tubes of mesh are easy to set up and won’t impair your trees’ growth.
If you have full-grown trees or a vegetable patch that’s attracting rabbits, a chicken wire fence is often enough to keep the animals out. To build one, you’ll need 6-foot posts and chicken wire with a mesh of 1 inch or finer and a height of 40 to 48 inches. Set the posts no farther than 6 feet apart and drive them at least 18 inches into the ground.
The bottom end of the chicken wire should be buried to prevent rabbits from digging under the fence. Create a trench 4 or 5 inches deep sloping outwards away from the fence posts. Lay the bottom end of the chicken wire in this trench and pull it out so the end is around 1 foot away from the fence. Fill the trench with soil to cover the wire. Finally, attach the chicken wire to the fence posts.
Scare the Rabbits Away
If the aesthetics of fencing doesn’t appeal to you, there are less visible ways to get rid of rabbits in your yard or at least stop them from snacking on your trees, flowers, and vegetables.
Because the scent of blood signals danger to rabbits, blood meal fertilizer makes an effective rabbit repellent. Simply sprinkle the blood meal on the surface of the soil anywhere you’ve seen rabbits. Use it with care, though, because too much can burn your plants.
Commercial rabbit repellent products are also an option. These are available in a granular form designed to be sprinkled on the soil surface and a liquid form designed to be sprayed onto trees and plants. These products produce the scent of blood, decaying meat or another odor that repels rabbits, but that’s too faint for you to smell. Some products work up to 90 days, but all need to be reapplied from time to time.
Other scents that indicate the presence of a predator also scare away rabbits. Coyote and fox urine, human hair, and dog hair are all options. Predator urine is available at some home and garden centers.
Motion-activated sprinklers, also known as water scarecrows, spray water when a rabbit or other animal triggers the device’s sensor. The sudden movement and spraying water scare rabbits away from your yard and discourage them from coming back.
Placing decoy owls and snakes around your property further helps scare off rabbits. While these can be a useful part of your overall strategy for getting rid of rabbits in your yard and garden, their effectiveness is unreliable and the rabbits will eventually get used to them.
Ultrasonic rabbit repellent devices are another option. These drive rabbits away with a sounds the animals find irritating, but that’s inaudible to you. Because these devices can harm pets, avoid them if you or your neighbors keep rodents, cats, dogs or other pets.
Try Other Rabbit-Repelling Scents
Rabbits find certain plants repugnant. Among these are onions, snapdragons, geraniums, goatweed, periwinkle, alyssum, and rhododendron shrubs. To discourage rabbits from visiting, plant one or more of these species in a double-row ring around areas that attract rabbits or at the perimeter of your property, or intersperse them with your garden plants.
Cayenne pepper and grated scented soap also have scents rabbits dislike, so sprinkling these around your plants acts as a deterrent. Keep in mind these scents wear off quickly and can be washed away by rain, so you’ll need to reapply them frequently.
Chemical repellents are another option. Ammonium soap repels rabbits, but it should be used near non-edible plants only. To keep rabbits from nibbling, consider treating your trees with a fungicide or deer repellent containing thiram. Check the product label before applying the product to edible plants.
Physically Remove the Rabbits
If you’re dealing with just a few rabbits who’ve made their home in your yard, you may be able to move them elsewhere. Live traps, available at home and garden centers, allow you to capture one rabbit at a time so you can relocate it to a more hospitable environment. You’ll need to bait the trap with carrots or apples, monitor it closely, then release the trapped rabbit as soon as possible.
Before you attempt this, check with your local department of wildlife to make sure trapping and releasing wildlife is legal in your area. If it is, you’ll need to learn the related regulations, such as where the rabbits can be released.
If rabbit hunting is legal in your area, this is another way to reduce the rabbit population. Over just one season, however, you may not see much effect. By the time you spot a rabbit in your yard, it’s already had time to do some damage. If your goal is to protect your garden and landscaping, deterring the rabbits is a more effective approach.
If your area has a large population of rabbits or nothing you do seems to dissuade them from visiting your property, consult a pest control company that has experience in dealing with rabbits. Experienced pest control professionals can accurately determine if the damage you’re seeing is, in fact, from rabbits. After this, they can help you find the best ways to get rid of the rabbits in your yard and garden.