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Furry, Adorable Pests: Rabbits in the Garden

 

Furry, Adorable Pests: Rabbits in the Garden

Those cute little cottontails are fun to watch as they hop and play, but they aren’t so adorable when they’ve eaten all the tender young plants that you so carefully added to your landscape last week.

How do you control these furry creatures? A good fence is the best deterrent.

We’ve talked about insect pests and beneficial bugs in the past, now let’s expand our knowledge of garden creatures to rabbits.

fort collins garden pets rabbits bunnies

Criminal Identification

Rabbits leave damage similar to deer, but it’s lower to the ground. If a bunny has been in the garden, you may see:

  • Stripped bark from young trees
  • Small round scat
  • Sharp-toothed cuts in vegetation and vegetables up to three feet from the ground
  • A shallow nest in the ground for their young

Favorite Flavors

Peter Cottontail loved lettuces, radishes and French beans, following it up with some parsley for a stomachache, according to Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. His Colorado Front Range cousins will eat just about any tender young plant, including:

  • Aster
  • Coneflower
  • Cosmos
  • Dandelion
  • Hosta
  • Impatiens
  • Iris
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Sweet Pea
  • Verbena
  • Zinnas
  • Almost every garden vegetable, especially beans
  • Herbs and shrubs
  • Bark and seedlings during lean times

rabbit eating dandelion fort collins

Dislikes

You’ll note this list is shorter, and since gardeners disagree whether rabbits love or hate snapdragons, we’ll just assume they eat it! Rabbits do tend to avoid these flowers and vegetables:

  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Ageratum
  • Catmint (a great choice for a water-wise garden)
  • Cleome
  • Marigolds
  • Geraniums
  • Salvia
  • Milkweed
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Corn
  • Squash

A Good Fence for Good Neighbors

While there are many, many ideas for rabbit deterrents, the most common practice is to put up a chicken wire fence. Plant the fence six inches into the ground to deter burrowing under, and make sure it’s at least two feet high.

If a fence isn’t an option, some gardeners recommend using vinegar water, water mixed with cayenne, or red fox urine (Don’t try to collect it yourself; we carry predator extract in both dry and liquid form).

The Larimer County Humane Society recommends protecting new plants with gallon plastic milk jugs by cutting off the bottom of the jug and placing it over the plant.

fort collins garden pets rabbits bunnies

Rough Neighborhood

Rabbits won’t visit as often if they can’t live nearby. Cover or remove any existing burrows, and clear out any weeds or brush that provide protection. Keeping the grass mowed to remove groundcover could be the easiest way to send them off in search of an easier meal.

If you need any other advice or help maintaining your yard, give us a call!