Rabbits consuming my garden

This year I’m a frustrated gardener as my bedding plants are eaten almost every day.  Last month squirrels invaded the attic and required expensive extermination https://www.postworksavvy.com/squirrel-invasion-in-the-attic/ ‎  .  This month the back garden has become a rabbit feeding station.

As well as bedding plants, especially the tender lettuces and spring greens, they ate the young leaves of several hostas that were robust last year. Tulips were demolished as soon as shoots came out of the gound. Sometimes they nibble at young leaves; sometimes they uproot the whole plant. No plants seem ‘rabbit proof’.

I believe the rabbits live primarily in the nearby conservation area and in my neighbour’s yard. They tunnel under the fence into my back garden.  I see tufts of fur and rabbit droppings near this hole that seems to be an entrance.  I’ve filled the hole repeatedly but these critters make new entrances.

The rabbits roam on the back lawn and feast on young plants.  Google tells me that if I see one rabbit in the yard it most likely means there are at least a dozen.  Sometimes I see a family of three or four happily grazing on my plants — does that mean there are 3 or 4 dozen nearby?

brown rabbit on green grass during daytime
Rabbits Consuming my Garden — photo courtesy of Jeremy Hynes on Unsplash

A bit of research on rabbit reproduction tells me that the gestation period for a rabbit litter is only 29 days. Litters range in size from 5 to 12 babies! That means a mature female can have hundreds of baby rabbits within her lifespan! These critters are abundant and annoying.

Fighting Back

I’m not prepared to live with a rabbit problem but I don’t want to hurt them. I want some humane way to deter the rabbits from feasting on my plants.

Lights, shiny objects, and motion scare devices are recommended to scare rabbits from a property. None of these have worked for me. My neighbour suggested chicken wire around the base of our wooden fence but I’m not sure I want to do that as the backyard is fairly large.

The internet recommends some natural repellants such as hot chilli peppers. A few packets of extra hot powdered chilli pepper cost me very little at the grocery store.  When I re-planted on the weekend, I sprinkled the chilli powder on the young leaves and around the plants. The problem with this method is that I’ll have to re-apply each time it rains or when the sprinkler system is activated during a dry spell.

Predator urine is also recommended as a repellant for rabbits as the smell makes the rabbit think a larger animal is nearby. When I went to purchase coyote urine from an exterminator (which was the only animal urine available from this firm) in the small city where I live, I balked at the price of $119.99 plus HST for a 1-litre container!  I can buy a lot of veggies and flowers for that kind of money!

I’m checking other suppliers as animal urine — either coyote or fox — is highly recommended as a deterrent! I can order online from several US suppliers but I would like a local option. If I’m lucky it will also deter my neighbour’s dog from our front lawn!

In the meantime, I’m sprinting through the back garden whenever I see a rabbit.  Good exercise until the chilli powder works or until I find an animal ‘pee’ solution.



8 Replies to “Rabbits consuming my garden”

  1. Same problem here but it’s field mice nibbling the plants I’ve nurtured from seed. Google suggested cotton wool soaked in peppermint oil would repel them so I tried it, only to spot one llittle mouse carting away mounds of the stuff presumably to its nest!

    1. A late reply to your comment — I think the rabbits gave up after my neighbour closed the entry point. My lettuce grew until the July heat arrived to make it bitter. Thank goodness for the supermarket!

  2. I can sympathize! In Central Florida squirrels are my garden thieves. They especially enjoy ripe red tomatoes; they take a bite, then suck out the juice. June marks the end of our Spring season as it’s too hot now for anything (except okra) to flourish, so yesterday I pulled up my last tomato plant. PS: I bought two poly-resin owls but they only worked briefly as a deterrent. In the Fall I’m going to try chicken wire cages.

    1. It’s sad to lose lovely fresh tomatoes.
      So far, the rabbits have left my tomato plants to grow but they love the lettuce and other greens.
      My neighbour at our cottage has resin owls on his roof. I don’t think the squirrels pay attention to them!
      I bought a commercial spray today that I will spray on the fence near the entrance spot. I’m hoping it will deter the rabbits. If not, I may need to consider the chicken wire option!

  3. Rick and Mrs. Diane Saunders says: Reply

    Hi Jeanette,
    I read both of your emails this morning, one on Squirrels and the other the rabbit problem. Well I remember starlings making their nest in the vent that stretched over our powder room, ending
    up over our kitchen stove. We just called one person in and I was horrified when he put the
    nest of babies in a bag. I’m not sure what delightful creature total the garden that my sister and
    brother in law help me plant when we were still in Thornhill. Now we are in a condo and the
    gardening company has to keep our garden healthy and growing! Wish you good luck in finding
    ways of having good food and flowers for your own pleasure.

    1. When we moved to London, I was ready to give up gardening and leave the landscaped yard to the company that looks after the grass and snow-ploughing. As the years passed, I realized how much I missed having herbs at my kitchen door and a few fresh veggies, especially tomatoes and cucumbers. I dug out some shrubs and gradually established a small growing area. I grew only herbs until this year when I decided to try a few veggies. Obviously, the rabbits like the veggies better than the herbs and they come every day for a feast. I bought a commercial product today and I’m hoping that spraying the fence near their entrance point will deter them. We’ll see!

  4. Somehow I know human hair can also be a deterrent for rabbits. I read hair breaks down into fertilizer, so that part is good. A hair salon may be happy to supply you. At my previous home, the rabbits ate all the flowers I planted in the front area. I finally gave up and just planted coleus in that area. Good luck!

    1. I’ve also read that human hair is a good deterrent but I hadn’t thought of a hair salon as a supplier. I’m due for a cut in the next week so I will ask for clippings! I went to a local garden center this morning and bought a commercial spray to spray the fence around the entrance point. I have my fingers crossed that this may be a solution!

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