DEAR JOAN: We’ve been noticing a darling little cottontail rabbit perusing our yard in the last year in an urban tract neighborhood. But now I suspect it was not the same animal l spotted each time.
Without a pet to chase them away, we are noticing little mounds of freshly dug dirt — and gophers are not the culprits. A deterrent of Epsom salts isn’t doing much more than fertilizing plants.
This could be the beginning of the end for our garden and probably other plants. Any suggestions before I become Elmer Fudd?
Tim Mitchell, Cupertino
DEAR TIM: I can’t guarantee you won’t take on some Fudd characteristics, but here are some things to try before you start shopping for an ushanka, Elmer’s trademark cap.
Physical barriers. The most practical, if not the most attractive, way of keeping any unwanted creature out of your yard and garden is fencing and protective cages. Fortunately, you don’t have to create tall walls with concertina wire to keep rabbits out.
Chicken wire, with openings no larger than 1 inch, is a perfectly acceptable barrier for keeping the bunnies at bay. You will, however, need to bury the fencing about 6 inches below ground to stop burrowing.
You’ll also need a certain amount of vigilance to make sure the fence remains intact and ensure the rabbits aren’t finding a way in. Consider it a hobby.
Use plants are deterrents. The average rabbit’s diet is varied and robust, but there are certain plants they don’t care for. Plants with strong odors or tastes are in the dislike column.
Growing these plants in pots or in the ground along the perimeter of your yard and garden can help discourage the rabbits from plundering. These plants include basil, garlic, rhubarb, hot peppers, spicy basil and mint, the latter of which is best grown in pots.
If you want to fill your garden with plants that rabbits aren’t as likely to eat, grow sweet alyssum, lantana, marigold, geranium, wax begonia, vinca, snapdragon, sunflower, salvia, milkweed, catmint, clematis, coral berry, juniper, lilac, Rose of Sharon and spirea.
Remove nesting areas. Take a look around your yard for possible nesting spots and remove them. Use care at this time of year that you don’t disturb active nests — those should be left alone and dealt with later. Rabbits’ favorite spots are in tall grass and overgrown areas.
Scarecrows. The use of scare tactics don’t always produce results, but they’re worth a try. Rubber snakes and owl statues might work, but you’ll need to move them around to keep up the illusion. Tying reflective strips to fencing or a piece of twine also might work.
Forget the mothballs
Recently, Debi, from Aptos, wrote to tell me that it’s illegal to use mothballs in landscaping, and she’s absolutely correct.
I knew it was dangerous to use them loose, which is why I’ve recommended putting them in bags. However, I’ve now learned that their use outside the home is forbidden by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Please ignore my earlier advice and leave the mothballs for their intended use, which is to protect fabric from moths.
Contact Joan Morris at [email protected]om.
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