5 Ways To Keep Rabbits Out of Your Yard
Yes, rabbits are cute. But, they can quickly destroy a garden, so, before you plant, figure out how you're going to keep rabbits out of your garden.
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Whenever I complain about the rabbits eating my green beans, someone is likely to tell me they were there first. Yes, that’s true, but I still don’t want them in my garden. They love to eat my green bean seedlings, along with many other plants in my garden. Fortunately, there are many humane ways to keep rabbits out of your yard. Some methods, such as building a fence, can be expensive, but there are budget-friendly options that work for some gardeners.
Signs of Rabbits in Your Yard
There are several tell-tale signs you have rabbits in your garden.
- There are rabbit droppings in your lawn. Most rabbit droppings are dark brown to black pea-sized pellets;
- Young seedlings, for vegetables like green beans, are cleanly eaten down to the stems. Newly emerging tulips look like someone cut them off. Or, you may notice the bark is missing near ground level on younger trees. Rabbits chew on the bark during the winter when other food isn’t readily available;
- There’s a rabbit’s nest under a shrub or in tall grass. The common eastern cottontail rabbits that many of us have in our gardens nest in shallow holes or indentations covered with dried grass and other plant debris. You may also see rabbit fur around the nest which the mama rabbit uses to line the hole;
- Seeing is believing. You will most often see rabbits in your garden at dawn or dusk.
How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Yard
Here are several ways to keep rabbits out of your yard.
Install a fence
Fencing in your entire yard is one option, but it can be expensive.
The fence should be at least three to four feet tall or taller and secured at the bottom, so rabbits can’t crawl under it. (I once chased a rabbit around my vegetable garden and watched it jump cleanly over a three-foot-tall chicken wire fence!)
If you decide to build a fence:
- Check your neighborhood covenants to see if fences are allowed and if so, what type. Also, find out if a building permit is required.
- Get several estimates and customer references if you plan to have a professional fence company install your fence;
- Choose a solid fence or one with a smaller mesh to keep rabbits out.
- Once the fence is installed, periodically check to see if rabbits have burrowed under it. You may need to put an additional wire mesh barrier on the bottom of wood fences if there is a gap that rabbits can fit through.
An alternative to installing a fence around your entire yard is to fence off just those areas, such as the vegetable garden, where rabbits can do the most damage. Choose fence material with a mesh of one inch or less and, if possible, bury the bottom of the fence a few inches into the ground. Make sure the fence is tall enough too, at least three feet.
Fill your garden with these rabbit repellent plants to keep them from eating your flowers and vegetables.
Install motion-activated sprinklers
Rabbits are easily startled. You can often keep them away from your garden by installing motion-activated sprinklers. Many of these sprinklers are solar-powered. When rabbits, or other animals, approach, the sprinkler activates and sprays water toward the source of the motion, startling them. The surprised rabbit or other animal runs away. The advantage of using motion-activated sprinklers is they may also help keep deer out of your garden. Be sure to turn off the sprinklers when you are heading out to the garden, so you don’t activate them on yourself.
Install motion-activated ultrasonic animal repellers
Motion-activated ultrasound animal repellers work like motion-activated sprinklers, except instead of spraying water, they make a high-pitched sound which humans can’t hear. But, rabbits and other animals hear it, keeping them out of that area. This is a good alternative if you or your family are frequently in your yard. Even if you trip the sensor, you won’t hear the sound nor will it harm you.
Spray or sprinkle animal repellent products
Another option for keeping rabbits out of your yard is to spray periodically with a rabbit repellent spray. Look for sprays that don’t wash off easily so you don’t have to reapply after every rain. Or sprinkle rabbit repellent granules around your garden. You may notice the smell of these for a day or so after application, but even after you can’t smell it, rabbits with more sensitive noses will smell it and stay away. As with the motion-activated sprinklers, some sprays or granules also work to keep deer out of your garden. Follow the instructions on the packaging to ensure proper application and best results.
Get a dog or cat
Dogs and cats are natural enemies of rabbits. If rabbits sense the presence of a dog or cat nearby, they may avoid your garden. If you don’t have a dog or cat, ask a local pet groomer to save some dog fur and put some around your garden. If the rabbits think a dog is near, they will stay away.