By Holly Crossley published
Are you wondering how to keep rabbits out of your garden or yard? Then you're in luck. We're here to share our top tips for deterring these little critters.
But wait, aren't rabbits just small and fluffy balls of cuteness? Isn't the sight of them hopping around borders and raised beds nothing short of a delight? Well, if you've dealt with rabbits before, you'll know that such a sweet first impression can be quickly skewed. In fact, rabbits in the yard can be a downright pain.
There's not a huge amount that they won't devour, from your prized lettuces and flowers to the bark of trees and shrubs. And, if you have one rabbit, chances are you'll have plenty – they have three to six litters a year, with up to six babies in each! Before long, you'll be dealing with an army of vegetation-chomping bunnies if you don't know how to keep rabbits out of your garden or yard.
To protect your plants and lawn and keep those furry pests under control, we've rounded up lots of advice below. And if you're dealing with other intruders, our guide on how to get rid of carpenter bees might come in handy too.
How can you tell if rabbits have been in your yard?
First things first: check that it's actually rabbits that you're dealing with. Granted, you may well have spotted them with your own eyes as they bound across your borders or frolic through your flowerbeds. But if you haven't actually seen them, there's some other telltale signs to look out for:
- Rabbits are quite tidy with their nibbling. They'll make sharp, clean-edged cuts from your flowers, vegetables and branches.
- Unlike squirrels, rabbits won't scramble up fences, leap from walls, or invade your bird house design ideas in the search for food. Apart from occasionally standing up on their hind legs, they'll stick to lower heights. This means that all their damage will be within two or so feet from the ground.
- Upturned soil and freshly dug holes can be quite the giveaway.
- Keep an eye out for clusters of small, round rabbit droppings, too. And speaking of their toilet habits, you might also notice brown patches on the lawn from their urine.
How to keep rabbits out of your garden or yard: 6 simple tips
1. Make your yard less tempting
So, you need to know how to keep rabbits out of your garden or yard. Well, one of the best ways is to make your garden less tempting to these unwelcome visitors.
First, it's worth knowing that rabbits are always on the lookout for safe places to shelter. This can range from the cozy space beneath your decking ideas, deep in a thicket of ornamental grasses, or beneath low-growing hedges and shrubs.
If you get rid of these spaces, or at least block the access to them, then they'll be less tempted to invade. For instance, learn how to mow a lawn properly to keep yours in check, block up the gap beneath structures with chicken wire, and consider rethinking that wilder patch of your plot.
Rabbits aren't hugely fussy when they want a good meal, but there are some plants that they don't exactly favor. Filling your borders with them won't do any harm in trying to prevent their visits: try geraniums, marigolds, astilbe, clematis, euphorbia, cactus, digitalis, hollyhocks, lavender, and acer. The RHS also recommends hellebores, nepeta and spiky echinops as rabbit-resistant plants.
It's been said that rabbits don't like potatoes, rhubarb, or tomatoes either, or the pungent fragrances of onions, garlics, and leeks. Growing these in your veg beds might help to deter them – our guide on how to grow onions and how to grow leeks will help you on your way.
2. Protect plants from rabbits
Another way to help deter these bunnies from your garden is to stop them from getting in in the first place. Sturdy garden fence ideas can do wonders around your plot, however, if you have areas where there are gaps, or have a hedge instead, then rabbit netting is a good addition.
This is made from galvanized steel, woven into a pattern with small, hexagonal holes no larger than one inch wide. Go for a height of 30-36 inches, and bend the lower end at a 90-degree angle before burying it six inches into the ground, as suggests the team at FineGardening.com. This will deter even the most determined rabbits from digging underneath.
You can also protect the bark of trees and shrubs. Try adding cylinders made from hardware cloth, which is a galvanized wire screen bought in rolls from garden centers, around the trunks of young trees. Position an inch or so away from the trunk itself and bury the lower section into the ground.
3. Use a commercial rabbit repellent
You can buy commercial rabbit repellents online or in some garden centers. These are ideal if you need to know how to keep rabbits out of your garden or yard and want a quick and low-maintenance approach.
You can find both sprays and granular solutions.They work due to their scent, which is disliked by rabbits (and generally, deer too). Look for all-natural kinds that are safe for pets, plants, and beneficial insects.
However, even with natural products, be sure to read the label carefully before application, keep them out of reach of children, and avoid spraying or sprinkling them on the edible parts of crops (and wash them thoroughly before eating).
4. Let your dog out
Sometimes, nature knows best, so it's no surprise that one of the best rabbit deterrents is simply to let your dog out into the yard. Your four-legged friend will happily chase your intruder away. And, after such a fright, it's likely the rabbits won't want to return.
Return the favor by ensuring your plot is safe for your pet – our guide on the most poisonous plants for dogs has lots of useful advice.
5. Try a motion sprinkler
Rabbits are small and relatively skittish, so firing a blast of cold water at them can be an effective means of warding them off. We don't mean hiding in the bushes with a water pistol – instead, invest in a motion-activated sprinkler.
Position the sprinkler near your raised garden beds for an added dose of protection to your plants. You can also find designs that, as well as spraying water, will emit a sudden noise that will also help to deter the intruders.
6. Use household items to ward them off
If you're after more natural approaches to prevent rabbits from trashing your yard, then your own kitchen cupboard might come in handy.
Red pepper powder is a known deterrent to rabbits. When sprinkled around your plants, it can help to send them packing (and, is useful if you want to know how to get rid of ants, too).
You can also try whipping up your own bunny-repelling spray. Mix garlic and chilli powder with water and a drop of liquid soap, then spray around your outdoor space. The smell and taste will help to keep them away. However, as with all DIY concoctions, be sure to test it on a small and inconspicuous area of your surfaces or plants first, to check for adverse reactions.
Speaking of smells, blood meal or bone meal is another option that rabbits supposedly can't stand. Scattered along garden path ideas or in your borders, they can help to control these pests. They will also add nitrogen to the soil, so can encourage plants to flourish. As always, check the packet instructions before applying to your garden.
Do moth balls keep rabbits away?
You may have heard of using moth balls to keep rabbits and other pests out of your yard. However, this is not a good idea. Not only is it an ineffective method, but moth balls are incredibly toxic when used outdoors. Not only are they damaging to all manner of wildlife, but if accidentally eaten by a pet, they can poison them.
Does Irish Spring soap repel rabbits?
Now Irish Spring soap, on the other hand, can be an effective method of repelling rabbits without the need for heavy chemicals.
The low-cost soap bar can be carefully sliced into shards or cubes and put into drawstring pouches. Secure the pouches to small stakes inserted into the ground around your plot.
The smell may seem pleasant to you, but apparently, rabbits hate it.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
What to plant in February: 10 options for borders and pots
Plants Our top ideas for what to plant in February will ensure your beds, borders and containers are looking their best for the warmer months ahead
By Ruth Hayes • Published
New lawn cutting service has swapped mowers for a surprisingly effective alternative
Gardens You can now enlist the help of a former dairy cow to cut your grass
By Millie Hurst • Published