Rabbits – this word evokes in some people images of a pet; soft, cuddly, cute and Easter. In others, rabbits are a nuisance create angst and cause serious damage. We see yards here in Colorado literally overrun by rabbits. Rabbits will eat, urinate and poop over and over in the same area and cause serious damage.
If you are in the latter category and live in a neighborhood struggling with rabbit problems, here are tips to keep these cute and damaging animals out of your yard.
- Reduce cover by trimming trees and shrubs – rabbits love to hide under low hanging branches of trees and shrubs. By eliminating this desired habitat, where they like to hide from predators, it might help discourage them from hanging around in your yard.
- Pepper! Rabbits hate pepper. Putting crushed red pepper in areas where they eat, pee and poop over and over again will make this area undesirable to them. I recommend crushed red pepper because pepper sprays and powders need to be re-applied after rain or irrigation. With that being said, we had a different problem in our yard a few years ago. We didn’t have rabbits because we have feral cats. I covered up my vegetable garden with lots of mulch and a tarp because I didn’t want the cats pooping where I was planting food. We received some ultra spicy powdered cayenne pepper and I decided when I uncovered the garden to paint it red with the stuff. I carefully sprinkled the entire garden area until the soil was red. The next morning I saw some red paw prints leading out of the garden and after that I never saw evidence of a cat in the garden for several years!! If that pepper got into their noses it must have been miserable! I started putting regular cayenne pepper in my rock and mulch beds and it does work for a while. So if you have super spicy hot sauce or pepper that you will never use, put it on your lawn! I have heard of people putting it in hose end sprayers and coating their lawns with hot sauce. If you choose to use this method do so before irrigation is turned on in winter or early spring and before going away for a weekend.
- Ultrasonic devices – there are many devices available online designed to deter rabbits and other undesirable animals in yards. A helpful reminder is move them around your yard and not leave them in the same place too long for them to increase effectiveness, otherwise the idea is they will become used to it. Moving them once a week to keep the rabbits on their toes is an important step. Below is an example of a device which is solar powered and flashes light and ultrasonic sound. If you notice it does have a dog in the example so not ideal for a backyard where you have a dog. This might be more useful in your front yard where a fence is not present.
4. Fencing fencing fencing – putting chicken wire around decks and under fencing down 4-6 inches so rabbits cannot get underneath your fence. This option might not work in a front yard so utilizing the other strategies for front yards will help. Try to make your backyard impenetrable.
5. Putting temporary fencing around an area to help the grass recover is another idea for badly damaged sections of grass.
The main thing is try more than one method to deter rabbits in your yard and try to make it as unappealing to them as possible. Below is a picture of a dead area in a lawn with rabbit poop and chewed up grass in the section. Rabbits like to return to the same sections, eat the grass, poop and urinate in the same areas over and over. Just like dog urine this will “burn” the grass and they have eaten the grass all the way down to the crown in this section.
Below is a video from CSU explaining about urine and rabbit damage and highlights why there is often more going on than we realize. https://youtu.be/su-u1b-e_cA?list=PLF923A9DD3BD61E42