While rabbits are cute to look at, especially as babies, they can really damage both your vegetable and flower gardens. If you’re looking for how to keep rabbits out of the garden, I have some tried and true ways to keep your garden safe from rabbits.
What are the Signs of Rabbits in Your Garden?
If you think you have a rabbit problem but haven’t seen any with your own eyes, look for one or more of the following rabbit damage signs:
- pea-sized rabbit droppings in small piles or scattered around the garden
- young plants that are cut to the ground (both flowers and veggies)
- bark of trees chewed up in the spring
How To Keep Rabbits Out Of The Garden
What You'll Be Needing:
If you garden, you’re sure to have some garden enemies. As you prepare for your garden every year, keep in mind that if you plant the rabbit’s favorite veggies and flowers, they’ll come for a visit. What do they like? Lots of your veggies and flowers.
Plants that rabbits love to 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 plants with strong scent:
- 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.
So… How Do You Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Garden?
While it’s never fun to deal with pests in your garden, I hope you’re only using humane ways to keep them out of your garden.
I’ve heard of people using moth balls to repel rabbits from the garden, and I don’t agree with that method. It’s not only toxic for the rabbits, but they are harmful to humans. Please don’t use mothballs in the garden!
With that out of the way, let’s see what you CAN do to prevent rabbits from destroying your favorite flowers and vegetables.
1. Use an 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 an inexpensive, effective way to keep rabbits away, and it’s 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. Install a rabbit proof garden fence
Probably one of the most efficient ways to keep rabbits out of your vegetable garden is to build a rabbit-proof fence around the garden. It doesn’t have to be too tall unless you want to protect your garden from deer too. To protect against cottontail rabbits, your fence needs to be two feet high and three feet high to protect against jackrabbits.
Use chicken wire if you don’t want to spend a lot, but hardware cloth is probably better in the long run: just make sure you bury the bottom of the fence into the ground so that the bunnies can’t crawl under.
If you’d rather use an electric fence, place the electric wires at 3″ and at 10″ above the ground. If you need a budget option, electric fencing is cheaper than hardware cloth.
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, such as dense vegetation, piled-up garden refuse, and disorganized tools and containers scattered in your garden.
Keep your garden area organized and free of garden debris. Brush piles, 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 safe rabbit repellents
Eliminator Scarecrow Owl Decoy with Scary Lighted Eyes and Frightening Sound – Solar Powered & Motion Activated – Realistic Predator Scares Away and Repels All Birds, Rabbits, Squirrels & other PestsThere are chemical repellents out there, that are probably very effective, but I personally prefer natural repellents that don’t harm nature.
- There’s a product called I must garden rabbit repellent – 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.
- Make a homemade repellent from water and Tabasco and spray your plants: they’ll nibble a bit, but stop once they taste the spice. If you grow hot peppers, you can use one of them instead of the Tabasco sauce. You can also use chili powder with the same result. Of course, you need to repeat spraying after heavy rains.
- 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 them and hang them 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 them 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. Or, just buy a few rubber snakes (this set includes 7 snakes!) and place them close to your most favorite plants.
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!!!)
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 if you want to reduce the rabbit population, 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 humane trap? This one’s my favorite.
What bait should you use for your live traps? You have a few choices:
- rabbit pellets
- 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.
We replaced the lawn in our backyard with clover, and bunnies keep congregating there, instead of raiding our flower beds and vegetable garden. As an added bonus, our backyard is alive with bees and butterflies!
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.
Do marigolds keep rabbits away?
The theory is that the rabbits find the smell of marigold too offensive and will stay away from them. However, this has not been proven as a fool-proof solution yet. If you want to try it out, plant a few marigolds around your perimeter fence or near any spots in your garden where you have had problems with rabbits before.
Many people say they’ve had success in keeping rabbits away by planting marigolds around their garden, while others say the rabbits enjoy nibbling on their marigolds. It’s worth a try: even if the experiment is not successful in keeping bunnies out of your garden, you’ll at least have some beautiful flowers 😉
Do coffee grounds repel rabbits?
Rabbits find the smell of coffee unpleasant, so this may help deter them from coming into your yard for food or shelter. And since coffee grounds are natural and free, work some into the ground around the plants you want to protect. Who knows? You might be successful at keeping rabbits out of the garden.
Will vinegar keep rabbits away?
Vinegar has been shown to be an effective deterrent against rabbits because they don’t like the smell. It makes them uncomfortable so it’s best to spray vinegar near areas where they’ve been digging or chewing on wire (be careful not to spray plants you want to keep alive). You can also try to place a cotton ball or a piece of cotton fabric soaked in vinegar and place it in a plastic container with some small holes to let the smell escape.
Learning how to keep rabbits out of the garden can be tricky, as a solution that works for someone else, might not work for you. Just keep trying and hopefully, you find the right method for YOUR garden!
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project.