By: Heather Rhoades
How to keep rabbits out of gardens is a problem that has been puzzling gardeners since the very first person put a seed in the ground. While some people may think rabbits look cute and fuzzy, any gardener who has dealt with a rabbit problem knows they are anything but. Keeping rabbits out of a garden is a challenge but it can be done.
Tips to Keep Rabbits Out of Garden
Here are some things you can try to keep rabbits out of the garden:
Smells Rabbits Dislike
One easy way to have rabbit control in gardens is to add things to your garden that the rabbits will not like to smell. Try sprinkling dried blood around the garden to keep rabbits out of the yard. Or pour some coyote, fox, or wolf urine around the perimeter of your garden. Hair from these same animals also works well for rabbit control in gardens.
The dried blood, animal hair, and animal urine are available at your local garden center. You can even try training your dog to pee near (but not in) your vegetable and flower beds to help with keeping rabbits out of a garden. The smell of the blood or the urine will tell the rabbit that this is a dangerous place and to stay away.
Garden Fences for Rabbits
A rabbit fence for gardens can also help with keeping rabbits out of the garden. The fence does not need to be high, just 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) tall, but you should bury the fence up to 6 inches (15 cm.) under the ground as rabbits are very good diggers.
The easiest way to add a rabbit-proof fence to the garden is to dig a trench around the bed, install the fence in the trench, and then backfill the trench. A rabbit fence for gardens does not have to be expensive. You can use the cheap chicken wire and that will work just fine for keeping rabbits out of a garden.
There are two types of traps used for rabbit control in gardens. One is a humane trap and one is a trap that will kill the rabbits. Which you use depends entirely on who you are and how much you hate rabbits. Humane traps tend to look like cages that are designed to lure the rabbit in and keep it trapped until someone comes to relocate it.
Traps that kill are typically designed to kill the rabbit quickly and relatively painlessly. These don’t technically keep rabbits out of the yard but it does ensure that they will not come back.
You can also build plant cages from chicken wire to cover plants that rabbits find particularly tasty. Plants like lettuce, peas, beans, and other tender leaved vegetables are favorites of rabbits. Build cages to deter the rabbits. The nice thing about this option is that it will also deter other pests, like deer.
While rabbits are difficult garden pests to deal with, once you learn how to keep rabbits out of gardens they can once again become the cute, fuzzy critters that everyone else loves.
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How to Keep Rabbits and Squirrels Out of Your Garden?
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Rabbits and squirrels are delicate nibblers, but this is not to mean they do not cause any considerable damage to your garden.
In any case, these Leporidae will feast on the tender growth on the newly emerging plants during spring and in summer they will eat on the broad-leaves, fruits, berries, and shoots.
And given that both squirrels and rabbits are masters at camouflage and reproduce quickly, they can quickly destroy your garden.
Though they pose a nuisance, there’re various methods to get rid of rabbits and squirrels from your garden.
And in this article, we shall explore the various means, suggestions, and home remedies available to control the rabbits and squirrels from your garden.
However, understand that your preferred method will depend on your lifestyle, finances, and personal preferences.
How To Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Garden 9 Best Ways
How To Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Garden
You’re a rabbit lover, but admittedly, you don’t want wild bunnies getting in your garden. No one can blame you for that, since wild rabbits will make a buffet out of your plants and flowers. How exactly do you go about keeping them out?
There are plenty of ways to keep rabbits out of your garden, such as:
- Make a fence
- Get a motion-scaring device or let out your pets
- Fill your garden with plants that bunnies despise
- Apply natural repellent
- Remove hiding areas
- Don’t scare off predators
- Make a decoy garden
- Get your local community involved
- Call animal control
Want more details on methods for keeping rabbits out of your garden? You’re in luck. In this article, we’ll go in-depth on the nine tips we just touched on. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have plenty of tactics for driving wild rabbits away from your property.
What Causes Rabbits to Get in Your Garden?
First thing’s first, what is it about your garden that wild rabbits find so irresistible? Well, it’s often not just your garden, but any other sources of nearby vegetation. If you have a rabbit infestation, then chances are, so do several of your neighbors.
At the end of the day, rabbits are hungry creatures. In the wild, they don’t have anyone they can depend on to feed them hay and pellets. They have to forage for all their food. Considering rabbits are prey animals, if they can forage more easily, they’re going to.
That brings us to your garden. This is an open, exposed area. To a bunny, it’s like coming upon a goldmine. Here’s all this food just lying out in the open for them to eat.
If they like your food source enough, they’ll keep coming back. They may even decide to reproduce here. The more bunnies in your yard, the more destruction they’ll cause to your garden.
What Do Rabbits Do in Your Garden?
The main thing wild rabbits will do in your garden is eat. They’re not very picky about what they munch on. From flowers to shrubs, bushes, and many types of plants (even ornamental, decorative ones), rabbits will eat them all. If you have any garden fruits or vegetables, this is even better. They also won’t discriminate against shoots, plant leaves, flower buds, and even twigs, bark, and grass. They’ll take any of it.
That’s not all rabbits will do. All that food has to come out somewhere, so they will urinate and defecate around your yard. Some particularly brazen wild rabbits may even decide to start a family in your backyard, as mentioned.
Besides the destruction to your garden and the lack of sanitation, rabbits can cause even bigger problems. As we said in the last section, rabbits are prey animals. That means there’s lots of bigger predators who’d be happy to make a wild rabbit their next meal. If you have a lot of rabbits in your yard eating and reproducing, these predators will come out of the woodwork.
Suddenly, not only do you have rabbits to deal with, but now bigger, potentially more dangerous animals as well. All this because a hungry wild rabbit decided your backyard garden looked appetizing. What a headache!
The 9 Best Ways to Keep Rabbits out of Your Garden
If you have rabbits in your garden, eating up your precious plants and making a mess, you’re going to want them out ASAP. How do you go about doing that?
Here’s more in-depth information on the tips we listed at the beginning of this article.
1. Fence off Their Favorites
As we’ve discussed, the main reason wild rabbits keep coming back to your garden is because it’s an easy source of food. Sure, maybe they have to crawl under your fence to get to the garden. Once they’re there, though, they have free reign. They can gorge themselves on anything and everything that’s even remotely edible.
If you erect a fence around your garden, it becomes much harder for rabbits to get to their favorite food. You don’t need to make a complicated fence, either. One made of chicken wire is often enough to keep rabbits out.
Remember that rabbits are great burrowers. That’s why you must dig half an inch into the ground and make sure your fence is at least that deep. While rabbits won’t likely climb, the fence should have a height of two feet. You also want it to have a thickness of at least an inch so a heavy, determined rabbit can’t collapse it with a bit of effort.
2. Get Scary
Since rabbits are prey animals, they may be more easily spooked then some other creatures. Play up on their sense of fear by driving them off your property with scare tactics. Motion-scare devices are one such option you might use. You can also get decoys that look like predators, such as owls. Do keep in mind that eventually, the effectiveness of these items can wear off if the rabbit gets too used to the device.
Be ready to switch it up. Using aluminum pie tins can scare a rabbit off your property, as can strategically-placed lights. If none of those work, do you have any other pets? Just let your cat or dog out into the yard. That ought to do the trick.
3. Grow Plants Rabbits Hate
If rabbits are still getting into your garden, then give them a reason not to come back. While it seems like a wild rabbit will eat just about anything and everything in your garden, that’s not true. There are some plants they can’t stand. You want to fill your garden with these.
Try planting artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb, garlic, onions, thorny cane fruit, currants, or gooseberries. It seems like the sticky sap, thorns, and large leaves can ward off some wild rabbits. This method may not deter all rabbits, especially the hungrier ones, so you might have to try something else as well.
4. Fill Your Garden with Repellants
Another way you can drive off unwanted wild bunnies is through repellant. There are many store-bought repellants you can try, or you can make your own.
One such mixture that rabbits do not enjoy is dish detergent with garlic powder and cayenne pepper. You start by filling a bowl or cup with warm water, about 20 ounces. Then, squeeze out some dish detergent, but not much. Combine that with garlic powder, only two tablespoons. Add the same amount of cayenne pepper and mix the whole thing together. Keep it out around the garden or mist it on the leaves of your plants (just make sure it won’t damage them).
Did you know most rabbits also hate blood meal and chili powder? Blood meal is a type of fertilizer that uses real blood. By covering your garden area with the stuff, rabbits will not come by. The same is true of chili powder. Once rabbits smell either the blood meal or chili powder and it gets stuck on their delicate whiskers, they will know not to come back.
5. Leave Them Nowhere to Hide
No one wants wild rabbits making their home in your backyard near your garden. This will only lead to more rabbits, which means your garden dies even faster. What you have to do is nip this problem in the bud.
While you can always scare off or repel rabbits, you also want to make sure they have nowhere nice to settle down. Rabbits are natural burrowers, as we’ve said, and like to be hidden away from predators. If you have any areas of the yard with lots of debris, rocks, or wood piles, clear these away.
The same goes for deep shrubs or other spaces where a rabbit can obscure itself. Cut these down. The next time your wild rabbit comes back and sees they have nowhere hidden to live, they won’t want to stick around your garden anymore.
6. Let in the Predators
Having predators like owls, snakes, foxes, and hawks lingering around your property might not be your idea of fun. Before you drive these animals out, wait and see what happens.
Nature will play out predictably. At the sight of these animals, many rabbits will get out of dodge. Now that they know predators are swarming the area, they’re less likely to come back to your garden.
We’re not advising you let predators kill off the rabbits, but that could happen. It may be wise to call an animal control expert before any rabbits die, as you’re just trying to get them away from your yard, not kill them.
7. Make a Decoy Garden
Another great method you can try to keep rabbits away from your main garden is to plant a decoy garden. In this garden, grow rosemary, parsley, peas, and beans for starters. Besides the few veggies we mentioned above that rabbits hate, any other fruits and vegetables are suitable.
You want to set up this decoy garden on the outskirts of your property. If rabbits have invaded your backyard, then this secondary garden goes in the front yard. You could also plant these yummy fruits and vegetables in the side yard.
You may be wondering what’s the point of a decoy garden? Won’t it attract wild rabbits? It absolutely will. After all, you’re growing all a bunny’s favorite greens in one easily accessible place. By giving them free reign of this decoy garden, they’re more likely to leave your home with a full belly without ever having touched anything in your real garden.
The key here is distance. If your decoy garden is anywhere near the real thing, then a rabbit will have twice the luck and thus twice the food. Your decoy also shouldn’t be so far away that a rabbit can’t easily get to it. That defeats the purpose.
8. Get in Touch with Your Municipality or Community and Let Them Step In
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that if you have a wild rabbit problem, more than likely, so do some of your neighbors. Call or knock on the door of those who live on either side of you and ask if they’ve had any bunnies munching away in their yards.
If the problem is severe and the above methods haven’t worked, you can always reach out to your municipality or local community. The town or city might decide to begin a wild rabbit relocation program. They may also get the rabbits spayed/neutered, trap them, or otherwise remove them from the neighborhood.
This is typically only a viable option if wild rabbits have become a citywide nuisance that many people have to deal with. If it’s only a few residents around town, you’ll likely have to take care of your rabbit issue yourself.
9. No Traps, Please
It’s really tempting to use traps on rabbits. After all, this will certainly get rid of them, right? Many experts recommend skipping the traps. Why is that? Rabbit traps are not like the rat or mousetraps you’re used to working with. These are far bigger and a little more difficult to set up.
You might think you’ll humanely catch the rabbit in the trap. They won’t be severely injured, and so you can release them somewhere else. What really happens is rabbits get extremely upset and distressed when caught. They can thrash and buck in an attempt to get out of the trap, breaking their own bones or severely injuring themselves. That is, unless the trap itself kills them.
If a rabbit is still alive and in a trap and you come near them, they will try to protect themselves. You could be scratched or bitten. Since this is a wild rabbit we’re talking about, you could end up with a case of rabies or other diseases.
If you’ve really had it up to here with your wild rabbit problem, then please, call animal control. They can catch and release your wild rabbits humanely.
A Note on Using Chemicals or Other Harsh Products
If you decide to use chemical treatments on your plants, do keep in mind that you could possibly kill the rabbits that eat the plants. If you’re trying to remove your rabbits in a humane way, then a chemical treatment is not the right option.
Some chemical deterrents are not necessarily bad for the rabbit. They tend to include natural ingredients that rabbits don’t like. Others are more chemical-heavy. If the wild rabbit by chance consumes this chemical deterrent, death may or may not occur.
In general, we recommend using natural deterrents over chemical ones. Sometimes, though, that’s not always possible.
If you have wild rabbits eating through your garden, you’re going to want them out immediately. You might create scare traps, plant foods rabbits hate, use natural repellants, or cut away any bushes and burrows. While you should not use traps on rabbits, the other options we presented in this article should give you some effective ideas on getting rid of your wild rabbits for good.
How to Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Garden Using Ivory Soap
The use of ivory soap is one of the safest and cheapest methods to keep rabbits away. Get a grater to grate the soap. Don’t use your kitchen graters, as you will have to throw them away.
Grate the soap and place the small pieces in a container, and tightly seal it. If left open, ivory soap will lose its smell, reducing its ability to repel abilities. The stronger the scent, the more effective it will work.
Spread the pieces around your plant, especially the most affected by rabbits. It does not cause harm to plants and is safe to use even on edible ones.
Spread the soap frequently, as it loses its smell fast. After some time, rabbits will not get anywhere near your garden.
Detering Rabbits From Garden Without Using Fence
For galvanized wire, rabbits can dig the ground. They can drill a sub-surface to create a passage straight into the garden.
This will provide them enough time to finish their meal operation.
This passage may not be suspected easily, making the garden more vulnerable to damage than expected.
For the wooden fence, the land will be vulnerable to termite invasion, making the plank a very sweet meal for another unexpected enemy. This will be making a two-time loss.
Some people think spending a long time in the garden during the day may reduce their invasion. They feel rabbits may still be in doubt of their presence when they decide to feed.
Most often, rabbits prefer to feed at night, and except you decide to keep night watch you might miss their arrival.
Then, the rabbits’ colony invades your garden at night till they are filled and satisfied.
How To Keep Rabbits Out Of The Garden
Plants that rabbits eat
You may wonder what are the rabbits’ favorite plants to eat. They LOVE fresh veggies from your garden. Bunnies will always nibble on these:
- swiss chard
- and more
Rabbits don’t just love your fruit and vegetable garden: they adore many of your beautiful flowers! Here are just a few:
- con flowers
- etc. the list is very long
If you plant any of these flowers and veggies, you’ll need to find ways to keep rabbits away from your garden. I asked my Facebook followers what they do to keep rabbits away from the vegetables, and got lots of ideas. I’ll share them below, but first, let’s see what plants rabbits hate.
Plants that rabbits hate
If you plant flowers and vegetables that rabbits love, you’ll struggle to keep them away from your garden. But you can plant some plants that rabbits won’t eat: herbs and flowers that are heavily scented and are known to be avoided by rabbits. Here are just a few:
- bee balm
- lemon balm
There are many other plants rabbits won’t eat, but these are a few you can plant right away while you research what else to plant.
1. Electronic rabbit repellent
Hoont Powerful Solar Battery Powered Ultrasonic Outdoor Pest and Animal Repeller This is by far my favorite method of keeping rabbits away from my garden.
It’s inexpensive, and it not harmful to anything in my garden: just keeps critters away (not only rabbits but also squirrels, skunks, rats, raccoons, mice and so much more).
There are many models on the market today, but I prefer this solar battery-powered ultrasonic outdoor animal & pest repeller – it’s motion-activated and makes it almost hands-free (I prefer to move it around the yard occasionally to make sure I cover all areas.
If you struggle with unwanted critters in your garden and around your home, you need to give this a try.
2. Use a rabbit proof garden fence
Probably one of the most efficient ways to keep rabbits out of your vegetable garden is to build a fence around the garden. It doesn’t have to be too tall unless you want to protect your garden from deer too.
Chicken wire works well for this: just make sure you bury the bottom of the fence into the ground so that the bunnies can’t crawl under.
A similar idea is to use floating row covers at night (that’s when rabbits love to roam the garden).
3. Use plants that repel rabbits in your garden
Rabbits love young, fresh, delicate veggies, but they don’t care much for strong scented herbs and flowers.
Plants that keep rabbits away
Here are some plants that deter rabbits. Plant a few of them around the garden to keep the bunnies out.
- marigolds – planted all around your garden will create a rabbit barrier (they hate the smell of the marigolds)
- spicy globe basil – keep the bunnies out and make lots of pesto throughout the summer
- Christmas basil also works well
4. Outdoor pets can help keep rabbits away
Our beloved pets are very helpful in keeping bunnies out of the backyard. It’s not only the fact that they’ll chase the rabbits away, but the smell of the dog or cat hair and urine is enough to keep them away.
5. Remove the optimal conditions for rabbits
Rabbits will only stick around places where they can take cover from predators. Keep your garden area organized and free of garden debris. Piles of leaves, rocks, dry plants, buckets, etc make it easy for the rabbits to hide. Also, get rid of tall grass and low bushes.
6. Keep them away with these repellents
- There’s a product called Repels All. The smell keeps rabbits out and works for other critters too.
- You can also add used coffee grounds, eggshells, and banana peels around your garden and it seems to work for some.
- Using ground black pepper can work, and it will keep ants away too.
- Spray some Tabasco with water on your plants: they’ll nibble a bit, but stop once they taste Tabasco
- Use a natural deterrent for rabbits and small critters, like PLANTSKYD (it saved a friend’s roses and tulips last spring).
- Irish Spring bar soap: cut the bars into 4-6 pieces, wrap a string around it and hang on your garden fence low enough at the rabbit level. You can also hang them on spikes near veggies. Or, drop pieces of soap into old socks and place around the garden.
- Try an owl decoy: rabbits are scared of owls.
7. Scare the rabbits away
Use an old hose to wrap through the garden: it works surprisingly well. The bunnies think it is a snake, and no one wants to share space with a snake.
Place pinwheels around your garden: the motion from them spinning and the sound will keep rabbits away from the garden. They will also scare birds away (this will save your tomatoes too. )
Related: do you have squirrels eating your bird feed? Try one of these methods to keep them away from your bird feeders.
8. Catch rabbits in a live trap
This might be lots of work for some, and fun for others. It’s not a one-time method, so requires repeating periodically, as new rabbits move into your garden.
If you decide you want to use this method, make sure you have a place to take your rabbits to, but more importantly, make sure it’s legal to do this where you live.
Need a live trap? This one’s my favorite.
What bait should you use for the live trap? You have a few choices: rabbit pellets, carrots or cut up apples.
9. Embrace the rabbits
For some of us, rabbits bring a smile and we just want to coexist. Rabbits are hungry too, so we might put food out for them.
Plant what rabbits want. Do it away from your garden, and you’ll be able to keep your garden safe and enjoy the little hoppers in your yard too.
DYI rabbit repellent
You can make a homemade rabbit repellent from a few ingredients you’re sure to have in your house: add equal parts of the following ingredients in a gallon of water, shake well and leave in the sun for about 2 days.
- cayenne pepper
- garlic powder (or you can use fresh if you prefer)
- dish soap
After 2 days, strain the liquid, add to a spray bottle and spray around the plants you want to protect from rabbits.
If you’d like more choices, take a look at this video for another idea:
I hope you found here something that will work out for you in your fight to keep rabbits out of the garden. If you use different methods, please share in the comments: it could save someone’s veggie garden or flower beds.
For the most clever and destructive rabbits, you may want to turn to trapping. Laws for trapping animals differ by state. You should check your local guidelines—such as the Department of Natural Resources—for rules about dealing with pests. If the problem is bad enough, call a professional for help. Rabbits are considered agricultural pests and may carry disease, so experts recommend you don’t try to trap them yourself.
Don’t resign yourself to the final resort. Build your garden correctly the first time with Cat’s Claw Fastener’s fencing staples. You can have a beautiful garden that is free of rabbits with proper fencing installation. Our fastener system holds four times stronger than any nail, won’t rust, and can be reused for any fencing project. Once you’ve used our fasteners to build a secure garden, you won’t need any more tips for how to keep rabbits out of your yard.