DEAR JOAN: My brother, who lives in Belmont down the Peninsula, has a rabbit problem.
The wild rabbits have been visiting his garden since the 1990s. They don’t bother the neighbors on either side of him, but they pull and eat up his grass on a regular basis.
He has tried almost everything possible to deter them, but nothing works and he takes such pride in his garden. Any suggestions?
Diane, Walnut Creek
DEAR DIANE: That’s a long time to be pestered by bunnies, but there always comes the point where we say enough.
The obvious solution, but not always the most practical, is to fence off the areas he wants to keep rabbit-free. Rabbit fences don’t need to be very tall — 2 feet high is sufficient — and you can use chicken wire or a mesh.
The most important thing is that you leave about 12 inches at the bottom of the fence that will extend outward, perpendicular to the fence. Use garden staples to hold it in place. This will prevent the rabbits from digging beneath the fence.
To further enforce the efforts, use a rabbit repellent around the fence and around plants and planting areas.
Other rabbit-deterring tricks include keeping the lawn mowed short, reducing the amount of available food, as well as keeping plants pruned several inches off the ground.
Rabbits don’t like the smell of onions or garlic, so grow those when in season or sprinkle bits of them around the garden, especially in areas where the rabbits are coming into the yard.
Some people swear by sprinkling dried sulfur and powdered red pepper around the yard, although you should use these cautiously, especially if you have pets. Sprinkling human hair around plants can also help. Supposedly the hair looks like grass and when the rabbit nibbles it, it gets a bad taste and moves on.
You also can put mirrors around the yard, or objects with reflective surfaces. The rabbits see their own reflections and, much like myself looking in the mirror on a Monday morning, run away in fear. Clear jars of water can also be used around plants.
More on hummingbirds and ants
I had a lot of responses from readers offering their tips for keeping ants out of hummingbird feeders. Linda McElrath uses fishing line to hang her hummingbird feeders, and says the ants can’t navigate the line. Others wrote to say some hummingbird feeders now come with an ant moat installed, which is handy.
Jill Dew, of Kentucky, makes her own moat with an empty tuna can. It not only keeps the ants out, but it also serves as a drinking place for other birds.
Maureen McCabe, of Gilroy, says drawing a line with chalk around the limb holding the feeder stops ants from crossing it.
I had several people say they use petroleum jelly to coat the line, or they put Tanglefoot, a very sticky paste, on the branch holding the feeder. While both of those work great at stopping ants, they can be dangerous for the birds. If they get any on their feathers, it could prevent them from flying, until they can clean it off — so I don’t recommend those methods.
For more pets and animals coverage follow us on Flipboard.
Have a question for Joan?
Use this form to submit questions. Photos should be mailed separately to [email protected]