Rabbits are cute as pets and as characters in kids’ stories, but they can wreak havoc on plants.
From stripping bark from trees to cutting off stems with their sharp teeth, it’s hard to believe these innocent little furry creatures can cause such chaos.
Luckily, you can stop them from eating your plants without causing intentional harm. This article details various ways you can protect your plants from rabbits.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
How Do I Safely Stop Rabbits From Eating My Plants?
Implementing various techniques is the key to beating these mischievous animals at their game.
Some of the practical techniques include:
1. Fence your garden with rabbit-proof fences
Construct or install a barrier around your garden to prevent rabbits from getting in. And not just any barrier; go for rabbit-proof fences with a mesh size of 2.5 cm or less.
Picket fences can’t keep rabbits away; that’s why wire mesh fences are ideal.
For optimal use, go for a 4 ft high fence with an addition of about 30 cm buried below the ground. You can even bend half of the 30 cm below the ground to form an L-shape so rabbits can’t tunnel under the fence.
In addition, make sure the gate is rabbit-proof and closes well. If you can, install motion-sensing sprinklers or make the fence electric to deter rabbits further.
2. Opt for plants that rabbits dislike
I should begin by saying this is not the most effective strategy. Rabbits can chew on almost any plant they come across, whether they intend to eat it or not. Even worse, some are not conscious of what they can and cannot eat.
However, there are plants that rabbits find less appealing. For example, strong-scented plants like mint may keep rabbits away. Others on the list include:
- African lily (Agapanthus)
- Allium (Ornamental onion)
- Euphorbia (Sage)
Planting these plants can help keep rabbits away. But, as I said, the strategy is not fail-proof, so maybe use it alongside other techniques.
The plants can work at first, but rabbits get used to the scent with time, especially since they are good at sniffing.
3. Use commercial sprays and scents that repel rabbits
There are numerous commercial sprays manufactured to repel rabbits. Vitax Stay Off is a common chemical repellent composed of aluminum ammonium sulfate, famous for keeping rabbits away.
But since these chemicals are sprayed, they must be constantly applied, especially after heavy rains and as the plant grows.
Still, we cannot rule out that rabbits might get used to the spray and still chew on your plants.
In addition, this is not the safest option as the chemical may contaminate plants and cause severe health risks to bunnies when ingested.
4. Use natural rabbit repellents
Since commercial sprays can cause harm to rabbits, especially if you are rearing them, natural repellents like peppermint oil and vinegar can also do the trick.
Soak cotton buds in vinegar or peppermint oil and leave them in the garden. At least this is not sprayed on plants, making it a safer option. But you should constantly reapply in case it rains or if it overstays.
5. Eliminate any potential nesting spot
This should be the first thing you do to discourage rabbits from thriving in your garden. Any busy grass or wood pile should be dealt with before rabbits can spot it.
Eradicate these areas in and around the garden, so they don’t find a way in if they nest around the garden area.
Nesting spots are especially hazardous if female rabbits spot them because they can hide and give birth there, giving you more rabbits to deal with.
6. Keep rabbit predators around
This goes for gardeners who don’t rear rabbits. Pets like dogs and cats will do the trick. Their presence is enough to scare rabbits away. And if you can’t keep them, get cat or dog fur. from the groomer and spread it in the garden to trick rabbits into thinking there is a predator around.
They have strong smelling skills, so they can easily sniff out predators.
7. Use rabbit traps
I recommend using professional traps and hiring professionals to help you with this, so you don’t hurt yourself or make mistakes when setting the trap.
You should also know that the trap may also catch other pests or pets, so maybe you shouldn’t go for this option if you have other pets. But then again, most traps only catch pests, which means you can release them when caught, so it’s not a very bad option after all.
8. Use visual deterrents
You can use rubber snakes, owl statues, or anything that can scare rabbits away. These visual deterrents trick bunnies into believing the area is unsafe for them, keeping them away.
Try changing their locations, so bunnies don’t realize they are fake.
9. Protect young plants
With their sharp teeth, rabbits can easily debark young trees and cause irreversible damage since young trees tend to be tender.
And since rabbits can also stretch and stand, they can still harm trees far from the ground. Protect your trees by using spiral plastic guards and wrapping them around the base. Go for good-quality guards that rabbits can’t easily chew through and reach the tree.
Why You Need to Keep Rabbits Away From Your Plants
Rabbits may look small and innocent, but they can cause massive damage to your plants, leading to losses. This is especially true for those growing vegetables for commercial purposes.
And even if you are growing for your own consumption, it would still hurt if rabbits damaged all your plants. Even worse, it’s not like these rabbits eat the plants. Sometimes they just cut the leafy part and leave it lying on the ground.
Rabbits are also fond of young plants. If they come near your seedlings, they won’t leave anything to grow. From chewing on them with their sharp teeth to stepping on them carelessly, the seedlings will be as good as dead.
If I’m being honest, there is no permanent solution to stop rabbits from eating plants. Installing rabbit-proof fences might be the most effective and by far the best solution, but in case they find a way through, you are back to the drawing board.
I recommend inspecting the fence now and then and making the necessary adjustments.
In addition, keep in mind that protecting your plants from rabbits is an ongoing battle, so never assume you’ve won. Employ as many strategies as possible for optimal results.
All the best!