Getting a Head Start on Controlling Rabbit Damage-HELP!

belle_michele(zone4Minnesota)March 6, 2007

Greetings All...

I am looking for some help on products available to deter/repel rabbits from my front yard. My neighborhood is literally 'hopping' with rabbits and I want to start early on stopping them from damaging plants this spring.

I've tried a lot of the home remedys, irish spring, human hair, etc. I tried blood meal and even coyote urine and while it didn't do a thing to repel rabbits it was apparently very attractive to the neighborhood dogs.

So if you can recommend any commercial products, I, and my garden, would be eternally grateful!



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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Well, I don't know about commercial products, but my best success has come with having cats on patrol.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 7:23AM
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selkie_b(z4 MN)

We use "Liquid Fence" which works very well unless you get a numb-nose. We had one huge buck who ignored everything - just about... discovered that he didn't like the plants with the garlic clips on them. So he could stand the rotting eggs odor but not the garlic.

In other words - it depends on the rabbit, but we've found that using both of these products together works. It's pricey, but effective. Saves most of my tulips and my roses.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 9:01AM
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Oh, that's good to know. Last year I couldn't get any beets past tiny sprouts due to rabbits. I've heard raised beds help, anyone know if that's accurate? And does "liquid fence" work for squirrels? Last year I planted some bulbs for the first time, and within hours the squirrels had dug them up. They didn't eat any, just dug them up and left them. I had dipped them in a hot pepper solution, don't know if that helped. I've read mixed reviews on squirrel repellent. Anyone have one that works? Or other methods to keep squirrels out of bulbs? Thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 9:50AM
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The next few months will be bad ones for rabbit damage. Our heavy snow covers most available food, so being desparate, they will gnaw on *anything* that could be food. They are feasting on orange peels in my compost pile, for example. And the high snow levels give them a leg up, so to speak, to attack woody plants that were out of reach before. Some of my roses are now chewed down to the snowline. Stinky repellents are ineffective in cold weather, and if they are hungry enough, they will eat anything, repellent or no.

Soon the rabbits will begin reproducing. Young rabbits are especialy voracious, and being small, they can work their way through smaller barriers to your beloved plants.

The only effective controls:

1. Barriers of wire-based material to completely encircle the plant, or
2. Killing them, or
3. Planting unattractive plants. Yes, there are a few, espcially the poinsonous ones.

Each of these has drawbacks. 1 is unattractive; 2 is really short term: more simply move in; and 3, well, if you have small children nearby, why incur the risk?

There is another choice:

4. Learn to live with the damage.

What NOT to do:

1. plant attractive foods to divert the rabbits from your beauties. Rabbits do not understand bribes; they are equal-opportunity beasts. Besides, simple ecology tells us by iuncreasing the food supply one also increases the rabbit population. When the bribe food is gone, one can only guess where the little monsters will turn
2. distribute mothballs. Yes, rabbits detest the smell, but these are appealing to small children. Naptha is extremely poisonous to people and pets.

I also am troubled by free-roaming cats as a solution. As a person who encourages songbirds to bathe, eat and nest in his yard, I can't tell you how upsetting it is to see a neighbors cat stalking them.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 1:53PM
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I've heard some people lay chicken wire down over their bulbs - plants can grow up through the holes, but critters can't dig. I use Liquid Fence with good results against deer - also supposed to repel rabbits. This year I'm trying an additional anti-bunny hint from a poster on another of these forums - Arm & Hammer Carpet Deodorizer sprinkled on and around plantings. But I still plan on keeping chicken wire handy to cage certain things.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 6:05PM
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I've used 'Liquid Fence' with OK result. 'PlantSkydd' (from Sweden, available at Fleet Farm) has been a little more effective but smells even worse. Don't buy the concentrate - it's just too gross.

I also would worry about outdoor cats - they really are a serious threat to native songbird population.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 5:34PM
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I really dislike rabbits. I have been using milorganite (not positive of spelling). It is a fertilizer made from human waste. I only use it on non edible items. It isn't always easy to find, but call a few large gardening areas. It is great against deer.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 6:38PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions! I have a cat but it's strictly an indoor cat (I love birds!).

My back yard is fenced with an additional chicken wire barrier on the bottom, I don't have any rabbits back there and the few squirrels that wander in there are either chased out or 'decimated' by my miniature pinscher. I know my dog would take care of the rabbit problem out front but I don't want to leave her out all night/early morning-which is when they do the worst damage.

Where I'm trying to keep the rabbits out is my front yard...the city has all these regulations about fencing front yards so that is out... I'm trying to find a way to keep the rabbits from eating my lilies as they come up or doing major damage to my roses.

I've heard about something called 'Ropel', does that work on Rabbits and where can you find it?

I will definitely try Liquid Fence and PlantSkydd. What the heck, I may even try the Arm & Hammer Carpet Deodorizer...I am THAT desperate!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 7:30PM
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I have heard that some master gardeners in Duluth use milorganite with good results.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 8:01AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I also enjoy songbirds and I must say that I have seen very little evidence in my yard of my cats killing songbirds. That said I'm careful of how and where I place feeders and birdbaths to assure the best protection possible for the birds. I do however find leftover bunny remains and usually suffer minimal bunny damage to my plants. My point being, that with careful planning and siting it is possible to have both cats and birds. I know many will disagree and probably blast me for having an outdoor cat. But if I didn't have some "bunny protection" I wouldn't have much left for shrubs come spring. One winter without a cat, I had numerous shrubs eaten to the ground before I covered the remaining ones. And before you bash me for leaving the poor kitty outside in the winter, she (spayed) has free access to a heated workshop at all times. She has a cozy bed, food, fresh water, and a clean litterbox each day.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 8:22AM
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Belle_Michelle, I've found that exposed lilies will get attacked as soon as they emerge form the ground. But those surrounded by other plants are untroubled. I have several oriental lilies in the middle of a deep, thick planting of columbines. Perhaps at rabbit level, these are unseen. I have had good summertime success with Repell, which is a vile spray of blood and latex. The latex helps it adhere to the lily stalk. However, my small dogs think Repell is a special sauce, so they head straight to the lilies. I use Milorganite as a great spring fertilizer. The rabbits here just march right over it to my roses.

Hostholic, I have no desire to bash you, but merely point out a few things to you. One person's garden cat becomes everyone's garden cat. If only they would stay in their owners' yards, but the little monkeys won't and don't. I should not have to rearrange my private gardens feeders and nest boxes to accommodate a neighbor's cat. I have found cats perched on top of my bluebird boxes, trying to get at nestings. Last summer one was hiding in my hostas, swatting at hummingbirds.

People who are allergic to cats suffer when yard cats hide under decks and patio furniture.

And there is the safety of the cats to consider. It's only a matter of time before a yard cat gets hit by a car (how we lost ours, years ago), hurt in a fight with another cat, or in my neighborhood, eaten by coyotes. My brother lost his 'garden cat' to raccoons. The poor thing was found disemboweled and still alive in his garage.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:12AM
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THANKS again for all the info/tips!

Where can I find Repell and Milorganite? Fleetfarm? Loews?
I know HD and Menards have precious little in regards to 'furry' pest control.

I'm thinking I may have to use temporary chicken wire enclosures until my plants get a good start along with all the repellants.

I actually tried trapping rabbits one didn't do any good. It seemed like for every rabbit I trapped and removed two more showed up in it's place.

It's gotten (unfortunately) so built up where I live that I no longer have a deer problem (fortunately). The rabbits however, are everywhere!

I did have a squirrel problem but my dog took care of that...I have a hard time deciding which is more destructive, squirrels or rabbits. What I found really disturbing was the fact the squirrels would eat baby birds they'd find in the many nests in my yard.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:18AM
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I've found Milorganite at the bigger garden centers up here. And the Liquid Fence and other repellants are considerably cheaper at Menard's than at the garden centers or supermarket flower stalls.

I still have to cage my lilies - otherwise the growth tips are chewed off as soon as they emerge as john w said. Ever the optimist, last season was particularly bad because of the extreme conditions... if things are more normal this year, perhaps the foragers will have enough of their natural food.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 12:42PM
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I get big 40 lb bags of Milorganite at Home Depot for $8-6.00 on sale. It's great stuff: a natural fertilizer that doesn't burn. I throw a handful into my summer flower pots and around each of my flowering shrubs. Milorganite is made from Milwaukee's sewage treatment plants. Although some claim it is safe for edible plants, my instinct tells me otherwise. I use it just for ornamentals. Being made from sewage, it doesn't really reek as one might expect, but it does have an odor that lingers. Again, like the Repell, it's attractive to dogs, so I must keep my eye on them. Otherwise, they would eat it up. Milorganite slowly dissolves over a period of several weeks.

I bought my Repell from Gertens a few years ago. I recall it being expensive. One bottle lasts a long time, however. Make sure you use gloves when you apply it. The stench is hard to remove from your hands.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 1:10PM
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Here I go planting a lot of plants specifically for their fragrance and then I undo the effort by the use of fish emulsion, alfalfa tea and now several rabbit repellants *laughing*....

I just wonder what I will do about the dogs that may be attracted to the Repell and Miorganite. I wonder if I'ld be liable if other peoples dogs got in my yard, ate the stuff and got sick? A few years ago, I was threated with a lawsuit from someone down the block because their dog got into my garage while the door was open, rooted around (made a mess, actually) and got into some bonemeal and got sick. Nothing came of it because the dog got hit by a car soon after while running loose.... Yes, there are lease laws in my city but they are a joke.

I have a dog myself that I just love to pieces, but unless she is in my fenced back yard, I don't let her out without being on a lease. I don't want anything bad to happen to anyone elses dog but as it is, I'm always cleaning dog crap out of my front yard and I'm starting to feel doomed to either dealing with dogs or rabbits... AAARGH!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 5:07PM
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My grass is dying and inside of each dead zone is rabbit poop. Does anyone else have this problem? Any way to reverse the damage? Impossible to kill all the rabbits in this

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 8:02PM
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Get a lab and be done with problem. My lab has taken care of Rabbit problem in my yard and now we see less in the nieghbor hood. I know this is years old so I hope you solved your problem

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:47PM
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I'm worried about rabbits when it comes time to plant my flower gardens (front and alley) at our new St Paul home. Last summer I saw many rabbits breakfasting in St Paul city yards in our old neighborhood, I'm assuming it's the same in this neighborhood a couple of miles away.

Is small mesh wire fencing effective? We have two quarter circle flower beds - walls on two sides, concrete path on the other. We could chicken-wire fence the path side if that's what it takes to get plants established. Would rather have a physical barrier to a stinky solution - if it works.

Also, we definitely have a mighty squirrel population - saw one today hanging upside down on a bird feeder to get some seeds. By springtime, do squirrels still forage everywhere (like in windowboxes) or are they less of a problem?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:43PM
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I use a live trap to relocate them in the spring when their food is starting to come up.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:23AM
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