Growing up, I always cheered for Peter Rabbit as he was chased mercilessly through the garden by the villainous Mr. McGregor. As it stands now, I’m less inclined to be sympathetic to Peter’s plight. If he had simply listened to his mother and stayed out of the garden, he wouldn’t have had the scare of his life and been sent to bed without supper.
Now, I’m no Mrs. McGregor — I won’t be baking any rabbits unfortunate enough to be caught in my garden into pie — but that doesn’t mean they’re welcome to munch on my hard-earned produce. After working through a number of solutions to rabbit problems, I’ve found two that work incredibly well.
Rabbits prefer to feed in areas where they can take quick cover from predators. Take a close look at your yard to see if you have created spaces where rabbits can build a nest, such as:
- brush heaps
- stone piles
- excess vegetation around fences or ditches
- other debris, such as wood or car parts
You can convince rabbits living near your garden to relocate by removing debris and low lying branches under shrubs. Areas under sheds, decks, and steps should be sealed as well. Reducing their habitat won’t completely solve your rabbit problem, but will help immensely when used in combination with the following tactic.
The most reliable method to protect your plants from rabbits is by constructing a three foot high woven wire fence around the perimeter of the garden. The openings in the mesh should be no larger than one inch as rabbits can squeeze through surprisingly small holes.
Start by digging a trench around your garden. Install the fence six inches below ground with the wire the low end of the mesh turned outward at a 90-degree angle away from the garden to discourage rabbits from digging. Backfill the trench with soil and you’re done! Be sure to seal the area around the gate in order to keep rabbits from simply entering there.
If you prefer not to build a permanent fence, electric fencing is the next best option. Electric fencing is portable and can be taken out and stored at the end of the growing season. Starting close to the ground, use three to five wires spaced three to four inches apart.
To protect individual plants such as trees and young shrubs, enclose the bottom two feet with a cylinder of poultry netting or welded wire mesh. The outside of the cylinder should rest one to two feet away from the trunk. Bury the base of the wire at least three inches below the surface of the soil.
I actually have a bit of an affinity with rabbits. There’s just something about them that I dearly love — but that affection does not extend to my garden. I’m far happier when the rabbits are feeding on flora I didn’t dedicate my time and money to, and in the end, I think they are too.
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.