How to Naturally and Safely Keep Rabbits Out of a Garden
Every Spring, the local rabbit population explodes. Seemingly overnight, hundreds of little bunnies appear, learning the ropes of rabbit life. Unfortunately, this happens to coincide with a crucial time of the year for gardeners: starting and transplanting our precious seedlings. When hungry rabbits come sniffing, how will you keep them away? There are the brutal options of laying out poison and traps, but if you have dogs, kids, or simply can't stomach the thought of killing your rabbit intruders, don't despair! There are several safe, humane ways to keep the pesky little things out of your garden, without spending an arm and a leg. Below are some of the most effective methods.
If you don't want to deal with the hassle of installing fencing, or whipping up a home remedy, then a commercial product is the easiest way to go. There are many solutions, including formulas specifically designed to frighten away rabbits and deer. You can also lay down bone meal, which scares off rabbits, or install a motion-detecting sprinkler to spray them when they get too close.
Most of these solutions require frequent updates, usually after it rains. However, they are very easy and do a good job of protecting a garden.
This requires frequent applications to maintain efficacy, but is cheap and will stop rabbits in their tracks. Sprinkle chili powder or red pepper around the perimeter of your garden. When an inquisitive visitor comes sniffing, they'll get a whiff of the spice and proceed no further. I'm sure you wouldn't willingly snort up chili powder either, would you? I'm not personally fond of this method, because I get the feeling it's pretty painful for the bunny. I don't think the first warning should be agony right up the nose.
Whip Up a Liquid Spray
More humane than the chili powder, this liquid barks worse than it bites and won't hurt the rabbit. Find an empty spray bottle, and mix in about three tablespoons of cayenne pepper, one eggs, some Frank's Red Hot (optional,) and some standard black pepper. Dilute with soap and water to desired consistency.
This mixture should be safe to spray on plants, but I would recommend applying it to the area surrounding your garden instead, if possible. The soap and egg causes the fluid to stick and cling to leaves, meaning you will only need to reapply it after a rain.
A physical barrier between your plants and the outside world is the single best way to protect your blossoming garden. A wire fence, at least four feet tall and sunk at least one foot should keep out all but the most wily of grazers. But, fences can be expensive, especially with a large garden, or with plans to expand in coming years.
The good news is, there's a very simple setup that has never failed me. I went through three waves of tomato plants before coming across this, and from then on I have not lost a single plant to rabbits. And it's dirt cheap! Interested? You'll need some stakes and fishing line, and that's it.
The idea behind this fence is that rabbits are afraid of unexpected things. Fishing line, being very thin, escapes their attention. Once they walk into it, they receive a surprise and dash away. And that's it! You shock the bunnies into leaving your garden alone.
The setup is easy. Drive in the stakes every foot or two around the perimeter of your garden. Then, slowly wrap the fishing line around the stakes, until the whole garden is surrounded. You may want to run the line around several times to ensure maximum coverage. The highest strand should be no more than 2.5" off the ground. This method has the advantage of being long-lasting; so long as no clumsy oaf comes along to knock it over, it could theoretically stay up for years.
I have tried every method on this list and found that the fishing line fence is easily the most cost effective means of keeping rabbits out. However, everything else worked as well, despite having the disadvantages of needing to keep up with them through the rainy season. Whatever method you choose, I wish you all the best in defending your beloved plants from those cute, furry destroyers!