1. K-State home
  2. »Research and Extension
  3. »News
  4. »News Stories
  5. »Wascally Wabbits? Tips for keeping bunnies out of the garden

K-State Research and Extension News

rabbit with ears up in a home garden

Fencing is a quick and effective control for keeping rabbits out of a home garden.

Wascally Wabbits? Tips for keeping bunnies out of the garden

Fencing is the quickest, most effective control

May 14, 2020

MANHATTAN, Kan. – It’s that time of year for home gardeners.

Kansas State University horticulture specialist Ward Upham says rabbits are a perennial problem in most home gardens because of the wide variety of plants they can feed on. And because vegetables and flowers are in an early stage, they’re especially appealing to the furry little critters.

“Fencing can provide a quick and effective control method,” Upham said. “The fence does not need to be tall; two feet is sufficient to keep cottontails out.”

Upham said gardeners should construct a fence with fine mesh (one inch or less) so that young rabbits can’t squeeze through it. Select posts that will give the fence adequate support, he added. Gardeners, however, often avoid fencing because it affects the attractiveness of the garden.

There are other means of control – repellants, traps and shooting among them – though Upham provided a couple additional ideas that may be more desirable.

“Another type of barrier is a floating row cover,” Upham said, referring to a light piece of garden fabric used to shelter crops. “Though most often used to promote early growth by keeping plants warmer than normal, it can also help protect young plants from insects and wildlife.”

He also suggested a motion-activated sprinkler. “These can be attached to a garden hose,” Upham said. “When motion is detected, it will release a short burst of water,” providing protection for up to 1,000 feet.

Upham noted that rabbits rarely bother such crops as potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers and some peppers. Gardeners’ control efforts should focus on other, more susceptible crops.

Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for keeping yards healthy and beautiful year-round. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.

Interested persons can also send their yard-related questions to Upham at wupham@ksu.edu.

Sidebar: Staggering sweet corn production

Perhaps the only downside to a bountiful harvest of sweet corn is that the crop is good only for a limited number of days.

“If you want longer periods of production, consider staggering the planting,” said Kansas State University horticulture specialist Ward Upham.

In other words, he said, plant a small block, wait a period of time, and then plant the next block.

“Though it is tempting to follow a calendar schedule, such as planting a small block every week, it is better to use crop development as a trigger,” Upham said. “If you plant on a calendar schedule, you may have noticed that later plantings often catch up with earlier ones. Instead, plant the next block of sweet corn when the previous one is one-half to one inch tall.”

At a glance

Rabbits are a perennial problem in home gardens. Fencing is the quickest and most effective control method.


K-State Horticulture Newsletter

Notable quote

“Fencing can provide a quick and effective control method. The fence does not need to be tall; two feet is sufficient to keep cottontails out.”

-- Ward Upham, horticulture specialist, K-State Research and Extension


Ward Upham

Written by

Pat Melgares


KSRE logo
K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.