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How to Deter Rabbits From Eating Your Garden

Cholee has been gardening for as long as she can remember. She enjoys teaching her children how to grow their own food.

No matter where you live, odds are there are rabbits running around your yard or neighborhood. Problems with rabbits can become enormous, and where there is one, you can bet there are more. Rabbits have a high reproduction rate and are capable of reproducing more than once per year. This means allowing them to stick around can lead to a whole garden infestation quickly. Unfortunately, there are not many plants that rabbits will not try at least once. However, there are some plants that will work to deter rabbits from coming and eating all the plants in your garden.

Flowers Rabbits Usually Will not Eat:

Many young rabbits will try almost any new plant growth. They tend to nibble on anything their noses run into before learning which ones are tasty and which ones are not. This list is not all inclusive and not completely rabbit resistant, as some rabbits may still try to nibble these plants.

  • Coleus
  • Snapdragons
  • Geraniums
  • Dusty Miller (however at my house these are usually the first to go. My dad would plant them to deter rabbits, but for some reason these were almost always the only ones the rabbits would eat)
  • Dahlias
  • Bleeding Hearts
  • Sunflowers
  • Day Lilies

Ideally these would be planted on the outer edges to deter rabbits from going any further into your garden.

Garden Plants Rabbits Avoid:

As far as vegetables and fruits go there are not many that rabbits will avoid. However, planting onions, Marigolds, or Nasturtiums in the garden could help deter rabbits from going into your garden completely and eating your fruits and vegetables. Many herbs are also safe from rabbit destruction and I recommend planting them on the outer edges when possible.

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Squash
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Sage

Ways to Keep Rabbits Out of the Garden:

Before finding ways to keep rabbits out of the garden, maintain your yard in a way that will keep rabbits from moving into your backyard in the first place. Keeping the grass and shrubs short and trimmed will keep them from burrowing and making homes in and on the edge of your yard. Rabbits will only choose places where they can ensure they will be able to stay fully covered from predators. They have over two dozen predators, and will only eat where they can be close to home or adaquate cover.

Keeping rabbits out of your garden can be hard, however putting up a simple fence just high enough that they can't jump over is the easiest way to deter rabbits. Rabbits are great diggers however, and may eventually dig under the fence to get to the plants. Creating rasied flower beds will also keep them from being able to burrow under.

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If you're like me and are looking for something a little more eye pleasing you can plant the flowers, herbs, or vegetables that rabbits tend not to eat on the outer edges of your garden as a barrier. Most rabbits will not venture further in to find tasty plants.

Other remedies can be found in the following list:

  • For individual plants you can use mesh poultry fencing or cones around the stalks (always remember to bury fencing to reduce the chances of burrowing underneath)
  • Live trapping (apples and carrots work great, then you can release them far away from your home) If you choose this method, I recommend reading laws for your state or contact an animal pest control company
  • Natural repellents: These include human hair, chili powder, soap, or vinegar
Shrubs and brush like this invite rabbits to nest and build homes.

Shrubs and brush like this invite rabbits to nest and build homes.

If you Can't Beat Them, Join Them:

If you enjoy having the rabbits around and just want them out of your garden you can plant alfalfa and clovers to give them a food source away from your garden. Things such as bird feeders and water sources encourage rabbits and other wild animals to come and feed in your yard. When placing these in the backyard, plan the placement away from the gardens, but close enough to the house so that you can still enjoy them.

We started noticing more rabbits than usually when we started adding more bird feeders to the back yard. They were frequently eating the dropped bird seed, but also venturing to the vegetable and fruit garden looking for fresh greens. We started setting out old apples and carrots under the feeder for the squirrels, and the rabbits have been enjoying those treats as well. Since giving the rabbits a different source of food far away from our gardens, they have kept away from our raised beds and have not been eating our plants.

There is no sure way of keeping rabbits from destroying everything you plant, however taking small measures like planning what plants you wish to have and where to plant them could save you some hassle later. Keeping in mind what animals might like your plants, as well as how you can keep them out of your gardens can greatly reduce animal destruction and allow you to freely enjoy your garden without the need of having to replant and re-plan your garden beds.

© 2012 Cholee Clay


Cholee Clay (author) from Wisconsin on January 06, 2012:

Thanks kkflowers! I love that too. Killing may be necessary sometimes, but there are definitely other great ways to keep them out of the gardens while still allowing them to have their spaces too.

kkflowers on January 06, 2012:

Great info! I love that its eco-friendly and no kill.

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