Protect your plants from rabbits as they’re particularly active at this time of year, that with the breeding season approaching and little food around to eat.
Rabbits are among the most troublesome of pests in the garden: they’ll eat vegetables to the ground and nibble the tops of perennials and shrubs, severely affecting growth and flowering. Even worse, they are partial to bark, especially on young trees, and often nibble it away right around the trunk, killing the tree.
You’ll know you have rabbits if the whole top of the plant is eaten rather than just individual leaves. If your trees are showing signs of bark damage about 30cm above ground, suspect a rabbit too – they tend to stand on their hind legs to eat tree bark.
Whenever you plant a new tree, add a spiral rabbit guard to protect the trunk. These are available from the garden centre here in Broughshane and are easily applied straight after planting. They protect the tree for the first few years of its life, expanding automatically as the trunk grows.
In a vegetable garden, fencing is often the only answer: circle the entire garden with a fence of 25mm chicken wire, with the bottom edge buried to at least 30cm deep into the ground. Make sure bunnies can’t slip under gates, either, by installing board ‘sills’ so there’s no gap.
If you can’t fence your plants, you can always try spraying with a deterrent, re-applied once every six weeks. You can also protect vulnerable plants, especially when first planted and still establishing, with cylinders of chicken wire – again buried into the ground around the edges. Another option is to stick to growing plants rabbits don’t like. Among them are hardy geraniums, alliums, hellebores and agapanthus – proving you can still have a beautiful garden even a few long-eared visitors!