Keeping Rabbits Out

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I live in a community that continues to develop (with new home construction) and we have rabbits all over the area. My specific problem is that a few rabbits have found a couple of areas in my yard where they sit or rest.

Not necessarily nesting, because it’s an open area (one area is behind my fence facing the alley way and another in the grassy area between my alley driveway and my neighbor’s driveway. The grass has stopped growing in those areas and there are rabbit pellets all over those areas. What can I spray on those areas to keep the rabbits away and how can I get my grass to grow again? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Several Master Gardeners responded:

• An organic solution of using one tablespoon of Tabasco type hot sauce in a gallon of water sprayed in areas they frequent or enter the garden. Apparently they have very sensitive noses which I guess is not surprising since they are always wiggling their noses sniffing the air. I would suggest trimming up the bushes where they are “resting” to open up the areas and make it less likely to provide a protected area. The grass may not be growing because these areas are being shaded out by shrubbery. Rabbit manure is very mild and can be put on the garden without the need for composting so I doubt the manure is the problem. She might also consider getting a dog or cat. Cynthia

• I’m not certain that rabbits are the source of the problem with your grass, but it certainly is possible that the acidic waste is a contributing factor. Small wild animals such as rabbits, raccoons and armadillos have an aversion to human hair. Stop by your saloon and ask for a trash bag with hair clippings, and sprinkle those clippings where you see the rabbits. Be sure to be watchful of other of other areas in the yard. They may simply move to a patch with no hair. Carol

• I’m a Parker County master gardener. I understand you have been having problems with an abundance of rabbits eating your grass. I personally haven’t experienced this problem; however, I did a little research online. A suggestion is to try dried blood meal by sprinkling it in the area as it indicated that the smell “might” deter rabbits. I personally like another suggestion that I discovered and that was the suggestion of mowing the grass really, really short as rabbits like tall grass to eat and to hide. I’d personally start with the mowing suggestion. Looking on the positive side, rabbit manure is a wonderful organic fertilizer. It’s one of the best fertilizers you could possibly find. Rabbit manure won’t burn your plants and it lasts a long time. I’d be out there scooping up that free fertilizer. Grenetta

• Rabbits can multiply in large numbers from summer to fall and can cause extensive feeding damage to a variety of landscape plants, particularly during winter time when the food supply is limited. The best method is to use one-inch mesh chicken wire up to 30 inches high. The bottom of the fence should be buried in the ground at least 6 inches to prevent rabbits from digging under the fence. A fence of woven wire or 2 inch poultry netting, two – three feet high, can be placed around gardens, flower beds or other places where protection is needed. Trapping is effective to reduce the rabbit population by using any box-type trap containing bait such as corn cobs; dried leafy alfalfa and clover are good cold-weather baits. Apples, carrots, lettuce and cabbage are good baits to use during the warmer months. Rabbits are active from twilight to early morning and generally hide during the day. The traps should be placed where the rabbits are feeding or resting. Repellents are also humane but some may be irritating to the skin, so wear gloves. Most of these are applied to the area where the damage is occurring. Repellents are usually available from garden supply centers, feed stores and hardware stores. Modifying the habitat to make it less attractive to rabbits is often an effective method of control. The removal of brush piles, weedy patches, rock or lumber piles, etc., will sometimes cause rabbits to leave in search of more suitable habitat. This method is especially effective in suburban areas, where less suitable habitat is available. Rabbits can be excluded from an area by constructing a rabbit- proof fence. LaDonna

• Rabbits can cause extensive damage to lawns and grasses. Not only do they eat the succulent foliage, they also urinate, causing brown patches that you must repair. In many parts of the country, homes, schools, roads and businesses now exist where not long ago meadows, forests and prairies were. With nowhere to go and nothing else to eat, rabbits have invaded many housing developments. Like dog urine, rabbit urine is acidic and will kill grass in spots wherever it occurs. You might be able to train your dog to use out of the way places for its elimination needs, but you can’t train wild rabbits, so when they visit your garden, they urinate as well as eat grass and other plants. Repellent Products and Plants Can Help: Commercial products are available at nurseries and online that claim to repel rabbits and other animals. Some mimic the scent of rabbit predators. Some people believe that sprinkling coyote urine around the periphery of your yard will repel rabbits. Rabbits find certain plants unappealing and might not venture into a lawn area that contains them around its border. Such plants include baby’s breath, lavender, lily of the valley, foxglove, coral bells, ornamental sages, forget-me-not, yarrow, Oriental poppy, ornamental onions, day lilies and tulips. Jerry

• Collect those pellets and let the rabbits be. You don’t want to mow the alley anyway. I have some nest in my flower garden almost every year, and they leave their pellets and it is great for the flowers. I’m just grateful they don’t live in my vegetable garden! That might be a problem. The grass will probably fill in later when it warms up some more. Good luck Dorothy