Dear Casual Gardener,
Giant, vicious, plant eating rabbits have invaded my garden. I want to find an environmentally friendly way to handle the situation.
Feeling Like Elmer Fudd
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Dear Elmer Fudd,
You have the plague many fellow gardeners suffer all across the United States and most local police departments discourage the use of your trusty shotgun to make Hasenfeffer Stew. They look so fluffy and sweet, it’s amazing the terror they cause. Let’s be clear; rabbits eat everything! Ultimately, there is nothing that is completely rabbit proof.
There are many ideas for deterring the little critters. You can purchase fox urine pellets, which might discourage the rabbits due to the predatory animal scent. Using live traps to catch and release is another humane way of handling the situation. Rabbits do not enjoy the scent of dried blood meal or the taste of chili powder – try sprinkling around their favorite plants. Human hair has also been known as something rabbits do not like to be near, so going to your local hair stylist and asking for the leftover clippings to place in your garden is always a good idea. Young rabbits investigate by nibbling and can do thousands of dollars of damage to perennial landscaping, trees and gardens due to their voracious appetites. They soon learn which plants are tasty and which ones to leave alone that might hurt them or taste terrible.
In general, rabbits dislike very aromatic plants, plants that ooze caustic milky sap, prickly plants, plants with spines, or plants with tough leathery leaves. Russian Sage, Catmint (Nepeta), Yucca, Allium, Daffodils, and other aromatic plants would be a good choice to help solve the rabbit issues. Bushes to consider when landscaping a difficult rabbit area would be varieties of Barberry and Shrub roses. Fencing is also a good idea, but remember that rabbits can squeeze through holes and jump over low fences, so make sure you have an appropriate solution for the little monsters.
My own experiences with rabbits have been far from pleasant. You should know that throwing rocks does NOT work! Several years ago, much to my shock, I saw a lovely, furry little delight chewing on my prized Hosta (the expensive one I had babied for an entire season). In a fit of enraged, garden-fury, I dashed out the front door, grabbed a softball sized rock, aimed for the mulch this side of his fuzzy bunny tail, and heaved-to like a professional pitcher. Much to my surprise, I missed the mulch and unintentionally hit the rabbit on the back left hip. Peter Cottontail was also surprised. He shouted out a gut-wrenching scream and performed an Olympic back flip three feet into the air before running off at full hop.
At that moment I heard a shrill and tear-filled, “Mom! How could you?” When I turned, there was my four year old daughter staring at me with murderous eyes for hurting her precious Bugs Bunny. I vowed I would never again break my girls heart and have been trying the aromatic solution ever since. No stew for me!