Rabbits eat and destroy many plants and shrubs, but they prefer some trees and plants over others; apple trees are among their favorite. They particularly like to gnaw at the tree's bark causing permanent damage. While there are several ways to protect your apple trees from rabbits and other similar pests--including repellents and traps--one of the best methods is to simply wrap the trunk with a piece of hardware cloth or chicken wire.
Purchase a ¼ inch piece of hardware cloth (or chicken wire) that is at least 20 to 23 inches wide. It should be long enough so it can wrap around the trunk of the tree, leaving one inch between the cloth and the trunk. Add an extra 2 inches for overlap.
Insert the hardware cloth 2 to 3 inches into the ground about an inch from your tree. This is easiest done with the soil is slightly moist.
Wrap the hardware cloth around the tree and overlap it by the extra 2 inches.
Secure the overlapped pieces together with twine or something similar. Secure it every 4 to 6 inches.