Bunny-rabbits in your vegetable garden? Want to prevent rabbits from eating your vegetables? Well, it’s not going to be easy.
In “Married with Children,” a Fox sitcom (1987-1997), the family patriarch Al Bundy, a shoe salesman with two kids and a self-centered wife, was advised by his doctor to start a hobby to relieve his stress. He chose growing vegetables. It worked like a charm, until . . . the rabbit. Al waged war on the vegetable-eating rabbit, trying to drown him (which flooded the neighbor’s basement), spraying poison gas (which killed a bald eagle), trying to shoot him (Al hit was his own foot), and using dynamite (which blew up a gas line). And, like the “Caddyshack” gopher, the rabbit was “all right.”
It is nearly impossible to keep your garden free from wildlife. After all, you’re providing a smorgasbord of tasty veggies that are hard to come by in the forests, or parks, as the case may be. But, we said, nearly impossible. You can deter rabbits from eating your vegetables but get out your bunny thinking hat to do it.
Try these tips:
- Fence: A 2-foot tall wire fence with small openings, like chicken wire, may do the trick, but it’s going to take some work. You’ll need to place it deep into the ground, at least 6 inches or rabbits will dig under it. Consider buying a 3-foot fence, so you can bury 6 inches of it and bend the top of the fence outward to make it more difficult for the rabbits to jump. And note we said wire. Plastic fences apparently just provide rabbit dietary roughage.
- Repellent: Commercial repellents abound, but the results depend upon your individual visitor. Just like us, some scents will be offensive to some bunnies and others won’t. It can get expensive. Instead, go to the dollar store and experiment a little. Chili powder, garlic, Irish Spring soap shavings (maybe you practice whittling to generate the tiny pieces), and ammonia are classic DIY solutions. Remember, they will need to be reapplied at least weekly, possibly more often if it rains.
- Pets: A dog or cat, or a couple, can be great at keeping critters like rabbits from eating your vegetables, but they may destroy the plants themselves chasing and running through the garden. Plus, it’s unlikely they will hold 24/7 guard duty.
- Lights, noisemakers, fake predators, and sprays: If you look online, you will find all kinds of nonsense to deter rabbits. (We once purchased a device that was supposed to turn on a light and emit a sound when it detected movement. Unfortunately, we had to bring it in if we thought it might rain. It became less annoying to let the rabbits feast.) We did have luck for a very short while with shiny silver balloons and placing no longer needed CDs and DVDs around the plants. The rabbits didn’t like the shiny stuff, and they definitely weren’t keen on bouncing balloons. But, again, we had to clean the dirt off the CDs and periodically replace (and move) the balloons.
- Feed the bunnies: Alfalfa, clover, root vegetables like carrots, and turnips placed on the perimeter of your garden may stop the bunnies from going in deeper. They’re hungry, and if you put favorite foods on the outside—where it’s also safer for them to make a quick getaway—you may save many of your vegetables.
But skip the Al Bundy how-to film advice. It just adds more stress to your gardening project.