Protection and Control of Rabbits
Posted: November 19, 2012
While rabbits live year-round in your garden, their behavior is more pronounced now.
Protecting the trees, shrubs, and perennials from these varmints will help them cope with the seasonal struggles better.
Rabbits chew off buds and stems of shrubs and other low-growing plants. Rabbits harm the bark of young trees, especially fruit trees. Damage is usually confined to 18 to 24 inches above ground or snow level. Stems are cut off cleanly, leaving a sharp 45-degree angle cut. Other tell-tale, or maybe bunny-tail, signs of a rabbit visit include elongated tracks in the snow and little piles of round, brown droppings.
Control rabbits by:
• Eliminating hiding places such as brush, tall grass, and weeds. Remember crawl spaces, under decks and sheds.
• Protecting gardens with fencing. A chicken wire fence, with a one-inch or finer mesh at least two feet high, provides adequate protection. Extend the bottom of the fence at least six inches below the soil line.
• Using tree guards, wraps, or hardware cloth around the trunks of young trees. Dig hardware cloth into the ground at least six inches and extend it well above the anticipated snow level. As the tree grows, the barrier must be loosened.
• Using repellants. These are available at local garden supply stores. By law, all commercial repellents must be used according to instructions on the product label.
• Trapping. Rabbits are a protected species in Pennsylvania so, when done out of season, it should only be done when they are causing damage to private property and in accordance to PA laws.
The Penn State Master Gardeners in Lackawanna County have a free publication on the control of rabbits. Please contact us at 570-963-6842 or email LackawannaMG@psu.edu for a copy.
Master Gardener Coordinator
Penn State Cooperative Extension in Lackawanna County