Abundant spring rains have led to exploding new growth in the garden. Those tender greens are a prime target for hungry rabbits and deer looking for their next meal. You’ll want to protect your plants now before you have to live with the damage for the rest of the season. Let’s look at three effective solutions you can employ today to keep them from eating your favorite plants.
1. Put up a physical barrier.
If you need a guaranteed way to keep rabbits and deer away from your plants, you’ll need to put up a barrier of some kind to keep them out. If adding 9ft tall deer fencing around your entire property isn’t going to work for you, consider fencing just your vegetable garden or other critical part of the garden where animals browse more frequently. Be sure to sink the fence a good 4-6 inches below the soil level to deter burrowing animals.
Raising beds up off the ground by a few feet is a good way to keep rabbits out, but keep in mind if you have deer that will make it extra convenient for them to dine on your plants, so fencing would still be necessary. Some people have also found that laying netting over their plants or stringing fish line around the raised bed’s perimeter also deters animal browsing.
2. Use animal repellents.
If erecting fencing isn’t practical for your situation, try protecting your plants with a repellent like Bobbex, Liquid Fence or Plantskydd. Alternating which ones you use will keep the rabbits and deer guessing.
Animal repellents tend to work best if you spray the whole perimeter of your landscape first to indicate the entire area is off limits. Then, spray the individual plants they tend to eat like hostas and daylilies. There’s no need to spray the plants they don’t like. This double dose of repellent is usually enough to send them elsewhere for their lunch.
3. Grow plants they don’t like to eat.
Understand up front that no plant is 100% rabbit or deer proof. If they are hungry enough, they will eat anything even if they know it will make them sick. Hey, when you’re desperate, you’re desperate! Also, what they eat in your garden is influenced by other food sources nearby. If there is something tastier in your neighbor’s yard or the farmer’s field down the road, they’ll go there first.
There are many plants that rabbits and deer don’t find particularly palatable. They tend to avoid plants that have fragrant foliage, tough or fuzzy leaves that are harder to chew, thorns or prickles, poisonous sap, and those they can’t reach. Unfortunately, growing plants they don’t like among those they do isn’t much of a deterrent. Like a child who eats his sandwich but leaves the crusts, rabbits and deer will selectively seek out and eat their favorites, then leave the rest.
If you’ve tried repellents but the rabbits or deer just won’t leave certain plants in your garden alone, consider replacing them with something less palatable. We offer many choices of rabbit resistant and deer resistant plants in our retail store and online.
Which method of deterrent you choose may depend on your level of desperation. I’ve seen many creative methods described by people online, some of which are more effective than others. Chat with your neighbors and friends to see how they are dealing with rabbits and deer in their gardens. Together, you’ll find a way to keep them at bay or at least send them to the next street over!
Read more about dealing with deer and rabbits, including how to identify which pest is eating your plants, in this article.