Rabbits eating my arborvitae trees

Asked March 7, 2019, 12:44 PM EST

Hello, I have two 6-7 foot arborvitae trees that the rabbits have been eating this winter. We put up a chicken wire fence around them, but with how much snow we have received this winter, they are able to reach over it. How can I save my trees from these nasty creatures?!?! We bang on the window and try to scare them away, but they just look at us and keep munching. So infuriating!!! Please help!!!

Washington County Minnesota rabbit control

3 Responses

Yours is a common problem in Minnesota at this time of the year when the snow piles up. I’m afraid that banging on your windows merely adds to the feeding entertainment of the rabbits. Erecting a physical barrier around your arborvitae is the only practical solution. As our snows may not quickly disappear, this means taking action now. The easiest solution might be to enclose your arborvitae with hardware cloth stuck into the snow. This should be available at any big-box store. It typically comes in four foot widths. I’ve seen some folks use “chicken wire” as a barrier, but this is very flexible and rabbits can easily push it aside. Hardware cloth is more rigid. If possible, put this cloth about a foot away from your arborvitae. You will need some type of wire cutters in dealing with it.

The following will give you some further information:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/rabbits/index.html

https://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2016/02/rabbit-fence-reminder.html

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/protecting-trees-and-shrubs-winter#put-up-physical-barriers-to-keep-animals-away-972411

Good Luck!!

Thank you for your response!
can the chew through burlap, if we wrapped the trees in that?

From personal experience, I have found that burlap provides little protection from bunnies. They have a powerful sense of smell and the aroma of arborvitae wafting through the burlap is too hard for them to resist.

Another alternative, though not as good as hardware cloth, would be to put boards up around the arborvitae. However such boards should be at least four feet high as these critters can jump. The upcoming snow this weekend will not help matters.

The one bright spot is that arborvitae can usually recover from the tips of their branches being nibbled off. Real damage occurs if rabbits begin to chew the bark off the stems and/or if they consume branches down to the stem. See:

https://www.gardenguides.com/12556890-how-to-fix-a-rabbit-chewed-arborvitae.html

Again, best of luck!!