Rabbits, Bunnies: Fencing Critters Will Make Your Garden Grow

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You have planted your beans, peppers, lettuces and tomatoes.

And then they come. The critters.

WANE-TV asked gardening expert Ricky Kemery what he does to keep tasty vegetables and flowers away from rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs and deer and it’s pretty simple.

Ricky Kemery, a retired Purdue Horticulture Extension educator, says the best way to keep rabbits and other critters away from your vegetable patch, saplings and shrubs is to surround them with a fence. The other options really don’t work.

Fence your products and fence unwanted guests.

“I always say that if you put a vegetable garden without a fence, it’s like opening a fast food restaurant for the neighborhood critters,” Kemery said recently, sitting in his garden full of options for fences.

And it will only get worse, he says, as habitats dwindle.

Inexpensive plastic mesh, which comes in garden green, does the trick, secured around the posts. The same goes for raised garden beds which can be put together with PVC or a 2 by 2″ frame with netting or hardware fabric to let in air and sunlight and keep the critters out” , Kemery said.

Kemery advises against investing in fashionable gadgets that emit noise. He’s also not a fan of the taste repellents, ultrasound devices, or voodoo-style potions you might find on the internet.

“They’re going to eat it anyway,” Kemery said. “There is no miracle solution.”

One of the best methods is to create a sturdy enclosure 4 feet high with one foot deeper in the ground that will keep most creatures out, he said.

Some flowers like these faux sunflowers are also irresistible to garden critters, so it’s best to protect them with plastic garden netting.

Not that taste repellents, like garlic or pepper, can’t help in the short term,” Kemery said. “But if a creature is really hungry, it is ineffective. “

Commercial repellents such as Deer Away and Hinder can sometimes be effective, but must be reapplied. Overall, they are not reliably effective.

“Sonice sound devices, owl statues, etc. are ineffective,” says Kemery.

In his garden, he has examples of the “exclusion” of creatures. A green plastic trellis that is fairly inexpensive can be found at big box stores and hardware stores for as little as $20 for 25 feet and can be cut with a pair of good scissors. Hardware store fabric is more expensive and must be cut with wire cutters.

Either can be wrapped around poles in a raised bed to keep the vegetable garden secure, Kemery said.

Potted peppers sit a few feet off the ground, making it harder for rabbits and other garden pests to eat them.

There is also a device called The Scarecrow that emits water when an animal approaches. The device which has a motion sensor is attached to a garden hose, Kemery said.

Rabbits are responsible for most of the garden devastation here. Hunting rabbits like Mr. McGregor did in the fictional Peter Rabbit books would most likely be as ineffective as taste repellents.

Rabbits don’t just like lettuce and carrots, Kemery says, they also eat the bark of young fruit trees and other shrubs.

A fence around the base of small trees will also help, he said.

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