How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

Are you looking for ways on how to keep rabbits out of your garden? Then continue reading to learn the different methods below.

Growing up my siblings and I had a few pet rabbits. They were cute and fun to spend time with. Unfortunately, these cuddly, furry animals can also wreak havoc on your garden.

That said, it’s not their fault.

Like everyone else, they need to eat. And, it just so happens that the plants they enjoy eating are those that we grow in our gardens.

As such, you’ll likely see gnaw or chew marks on vegetation and stems especially for younger plants which rabbits like more.

If you have a rabbit problem in your garden, this article will show you what’s causing rabbits to come to your yard, which plants they like or don’t like to eat, and how to get rid of rabbits from your garden as well as prevent them from combing back.

What Plants Do Rabbits Like?

Rabbits enjoy a wide variety of plants. So, if there are rabbits hopping around your property and you have a garden, odds are they’ll somehow find their way to your plants.

And yes, like the cartoons, they do like carrots. However, they like the tops more than that orange section.

More importantly, they’ll chew on other vegetables and herbs as well, especially the young plants because of the tender leaves. That said, rabbits will also take a bite out of fruits. So keep an eye out for your fruit trees and berry bushes.

Here are some vegetables and fruits rabbits will go after in your garden.

Vegetables Rabbits Like

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pepper
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
Fruits Rabbits Like

  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Currants
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
Herbs Rabbits Like

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Flowers (Annuals and Perennials), Trees and Shrubs Rabbits like:

Annuals

  • Cosmos
  • Impatiens
  • Morning glory
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Sweet pea
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia
Perennials

  • Aster
  • Balloon flower
  • Bellflower
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Clematis
  • Coneflower
  • Coral bells
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Crocus
  • Daisy
  • Daylillies
  • Hosta
  • Iris
  • Japanese anemone
  • Lilies
  • Lupine
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Tulip
  • Verbena
Shrubs

  • Barberry
  • Deutzia
  • Eastern redbud
  • Flowering crabapple
  • Forsythia
  • Hawthorn
  • Juneberry
  • Lilac
  • Rose
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Smokebush
  • Winged Euonymus
  • Witch hazel

 

Signs of Rabbit Activity & Damage

How to keep rabbits out of the garden

Rabbits are more active during the twilight hours. That is during dawn around the time the sun rises and dusk when the sun is setting. They spend most of their days sleeping and do their feeding at night.

Like many prey animals, they will try to use the guise of darkness to protect them from predators. They have evolved this way over the generations because rabbits have been domesticated.

As such, it is not often that you’ll see lots of rabbits running around in your garden.

But, lo and behold, you’ll see the damage they cause in the morning.

From my younger days of taking care of them, I remember how much rabbits poop. No kidding. They poop a lot.

And, their poop look like tan or light brown pellets. As such, if you see a lot of these small pea-sized (a bit rectangular-looking) droppings, it is a sign of rabbits visiting your garden.

Another sign of rabbits if you notice some young plants or seedlings disappear or mostly disappear overnight. Rabbits like their tender shoots and leaves.

You also want to check the plants for chew marks. Rabbits are kind of “clean” eaters. As such, their chew marks are not messy or jagged in nature. Instead, they look like they’ve been trimmed. However, the telltale signs are the odd and abnormal shapes of the vegetation.

Finally, rabbits are cute balls of fur. And, they will get some of their fur caught in twigs, branches and other plants. As such, if you see some small bunches of fur stuck to shrubs, you likely have rabbits.

 

How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

As cute as they are, rabbits in your garden will test your patience. And after a while, you’ll get annoyed by the damage they cause because they eat a lot.

Of course, you can call professionals to do the job. But, that is often expensive.

So, here are better ways to get rid of rabbits from your garden as well as how to keep them out of your yard.

 

Related

 

Garden Fence and Netting

Like most wildlife, the easiest and most effective way to keep rabbits out of your garden is to create a fence around your garden. The challenging part about fencing is covering all sides and corners so there are no opening.

As you would guess, the larger your plot, the more work it will take to put up a fence around it.

More importantly, you want the fence you put up to not only keep rabbits out but also keep other bothersome animals from messing with your plants. Thus, a lot will depend on the kinds of animals around your property.

Finally, there’s the strength and longevity of the structure.

This is crucial as you don’t want the elements to easily take a section down. And, you want the fencing to stay up as long as possible.

That said, when it comes to rabbits, here are a few fencing tips to keep them out.

  • All you need is chicken wire with a mesh size of about half inch to an inch
  • At least 3 feet high so they can’t jump over the obstacle
  • Depth of at least 6 inches below the ground to prevent the rabbits from burrowing under the fence to get around it

 

Plant Cages

In case you prefer not to put up an entire fence around your garden, another option is to fence specific plants. This may take more or less effort depending on which plants and how many of them you want to protect from pests.

Since you’re only caging in individual plants, you can choose those that the rabbits enjoy to eat.

In this case, you can use the same chicken wire as that for fencing your garden above.

But, how to set up the chicken wire will vary depending on the size of the plant and its shape.

For smaller plants, you can cover them since the height of the cage will need to be at least 2 to 3 feet high to keep rabbits from leaping over them.

Larger plants only need fencing around them. So, you can create a cylinder around the base of these plants.

Use the same height and depth to keep rabbits from going over or under the cage.

 

Habitat Modification

Rabbits in the Garden

Besides fences and cages, you can likewise change the layout or clean up certain sections of your garden.

Rabbits like certain environments. They are also attracted to specific spaces that allow them to nest.

As such, taking out twigs and branches around the ground as well as piles of debris removes these nesting options.

 

Rabbit Traps

I have mixed feelings about this one.

While I don’t like rabbits messing around the yard, I don’t have it in me to trap them, much less harm or kill them. As kids, we never kept our pet rabbits in cages. Instead, we had a small area where they could run around.

Sure, they made a mess and pooped a lot. But, we never considered caging them.

As such, my dilemma here.

In any case, rabbit traps come in many varieties. Some are designed to be more humane whereby trapping them so you can either relocate them later. But other traps will kill them.

It is important to be aware that there are laws for each state about how you can release rabbits. That’s because, certain states classify them as agricultural pests, you can’t just let them go anywhere. Also, rabbits can carry disease.

 

Repellents

Another way to get rid of rabbits in your garden is to use repellents.

Here, there are many different products available. And, you can “make” some yourself.

In general, you can deter rabbits from coming back to your yard through odor and taste.

The former often comes in the form of smells that are associated with predators or a scent they really can’t stand.

On the other hand, taste refers to the flavor of things they used to enjoy that somehow don’t taste appealing to them anymore.

The most common type of repellent you’ll see in stores are chemical repellants. I don’t like these because of the toxins they can contain. As such, they’re a no-no when it comes to applying to edible plants like vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Also, they tend to leave unpleasant textures, a sticky feeling, odor or flavor.

Another issue with repellents is that you need to reapply them. How often will depend on the product. So, reading the instructions carefully is very important.

That said, when it rains, the repellent will often get washed away by rainwater.

When it comes to more natural repellents, consider odors and taste. Of the two, taste-based rabbit repellents seem to work better. Although, I urge you try different kinds to see which works best for you.

In most cases, dried bloom, animal hair and pee or poop from predators around the perimeter of your garden works best. Try to avoid applying right on the plants or too near the plants.

You can check out your local garden center or nursery which will often carry these items.

Similarly, if you own pets and know how to train them, you can train your dog to pee around the borders of the garden. This works just as well. Plus, it is free!

 

Grow Plants Rabbits Don’t Like

This is something that works. But, it can be both challenging and frustrating.

I say challenging because rabbits are smart. As such, they may use some plants to mask their scent and keep predators away.

More importantly, for someone like me, it is very frustrating.

I enjoy gardening because it lets me grow plants that I like and vegetables the family enjoys. If I force myself to grow specific plants I have less interest in, I feel that I won’t be as interest in gardening.

In any case, you can add a few rabbit-repelling plants in your garden to keep the rabbits away.

Here’s a list of plants rabbits don’t like.

Vegetables and Herbs

  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Tarragon
  • Tomatoes
Annuals

  • Four o’clock
  • Geranium
  • Pot marigold
  • Spiderflower
  • Wax begonia
Perennials

  • Daffodil
  • Foam flower
  • Hyacinth
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Meadow rue
  • Peony
  • Primrose
  • Russian sage
  • Sedum
  • Speedwell
Shrubs

  • Azalea
  • Boxwood
  • Butterfly bush
  • Cotoneaster
  • Japanese maple
  • Mountain laurel
  • Rhododendron

 

Predators

Unlike smaller plant pests you can encourage predators like ladybugs to come around and deter these critters. With rabbits, you’ll be dealing withs slightly larger predators like snakes, owls, hawks and foxes.

As such, its is not easy to attract them. More importantly, do you really want to?

The good news is, these are fairly small predators. And, they rarely pose any danger to people and pets. Although, some snakes can do so.

More importantly, they’ll come around on their own.

As your rabbit population grows, they will likely attract their predators as well since these predators will notice a good sized food source around your home.

An alternative to predators is to “use your own”. That is, dogs and cats are perfect for chasing away rabbits as well.

 

How to Prevent Rabbits from Damaging Your Garden

Like almost all things, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Unfortunately, the main cause of rabbits in your garden are the plants. Plants serve as their source of food. And, when spring comes around, you’re likely to see them come as well especially the farther away you live from the city.

When it comes to prevention, it is all about consistency and vigilance.

As long as you keep growing vegetables, flowers, herbs or fruit, the likelihood of some kind of pests including rabbits will happen.

Here are some ways to prevent rabbits.

  • Regularly inspect your garden for any signs of plant damage or chewing.
  • Check your plot for rabbit droppings as well as fur that can be left behind.
  • If you have a fence, make sure that it is taut and sturdy with no holes or openings where rabbits can get through.

And once you notice any possibility of rabbits, take quick action.

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