How to Keep Rabbits Out of Flower Beds


how to keep rabbits out of the garden

As nice and cute as rabbits are, for both the professional and amateur gardener, they can be a pain when trying to create the perfect garden.

As a keen gardener, I have several beautiful flower beds. Fortunately, I haven’t had many problems with rabbits or other pests digging up my flowers and plants. But a few years ago one of the neighbors planted some corn for his chickens. The chickens did their job but the rabbits dug up all the stalks and ate them down to the ground!

“It’s a sudden impulse,” said my neighbour. “The rabbits see a tasty, high-protein snack and they just can’t hold back.”

In other words, preventing rabbit damage is often not possible. But if you get in there before it’s too late, the potential for damage can be minimized.

Speaking of getting in there … You know how your neighbours set their rabbit cages next to the house? That way they only have one door to open – the front door! And since rabbits are basically scared of everything they don’t need to worry about anything sneaking up on them from behind either. Well … what happens when those pesky summer squash vines start growing up that cage? Or what if little bunnies actually use that cage as a ladder to escape the garden … but then get stuck there?

“My rabbit’s in the cage, but her babies are outside and I don’t know how to get them back inside,” wailed my neighbor. “How do I keep rabbits out of flower beds?”

Here are some tips I have picked up over the years to help keep my garden rabbit free.

Rabbit-proof Fencing.

Let’s talk about fences first. Fences are sometimes a good idea, but they might present more problems than they’re worth. If you want to plant flowers or vegetables close to the fence – forget it! A rabbit would just tunnel underneath it anyway (they can dig straight down for several feet). So unless there’s another way to block rabbits from entering an area, building a fence may only work for a short amount of time.

Keep in mind that fences won’t stop the rabbits from hopping into the garden, but they can prevent them from escaping! So if you do build a fence at least make sure it’s above ground and that there are no openings underneath it where little bunnies could slip through.

For smaller gardens, an electric wire around the edge will usually provide enough of a barrier to keep rabbits away. I saw some gardeners use chicken wire with plastic coating on top to surround their beds. Rabbits supposedly hate the feel of metal or plastic (I don’t know why) so if they touch that, the static electricity could kill them! This might sound extreme … but what about your carrot harvest?Now let’s talk about the home gardener.

It’s important to remember that rabbits (and other pests) can’t jump! So when building your raised beds or garden area … make sure there are no holes where they can get under! In addition, the sides of the bed should be relatively high so they can’t hop over either.

I know this sounds obvious – but how many times have I seen people grow vegetables right up against their house? Rabbits will jump on top of the house and then leap into your garden! If it has a roof it’s an even better launching pad – because rabbits don’t like going upside down either! A good rule of thumb is to keep your precious plants and flowers at least 6 feet away from the house so they can’t reach it.

So what about plants? Growing vegetables close together will prevent rabbits (and other pests) from finding their way through. I’ve read that if you pack a lot of tomatoes or beans around a small space … the pests won’t be able to find their way between them and will eventually give up and leave. The theory goes like this:

Rabbits don’t want to go into small spaces and prefer wide open areas where they’re more comfortable. So if you plant enough in one spot, there may not be any room left for them – they’ll be forced to move somewhere else instead!

What about rabbit proof plants

If you don’t want to potentially harm Fluffy, but what do keep your garden looking great, how about planting flowers that rabbits are not too keen on!

You can plant the following non-toxic and edible plants in your garden, to help deter unwelcome, hungry furry visitors. Just remember that some of these plants are not native to your area. You may need to check with local nurseries for availability or substitute a native species.

In addition to the list below of plants that repel rabbits, you may also want to plant catnip, dill or mint around your vegetable garden areas.

Without further ado – here is the list of rabbit repellant plants . . .

Ageratum (floss flower) Basil Coleus (pepper leaf) Catnip English Ivy Garden Lavender Lemon Balm Lettuce (romaine) MarieIt’s also a good idea to grow vegetables in raised beds instead of large areas. That way, you can pack them much closer together and spread out the seeds so there are no gaps! I don’t have any evidence that this would work for rabbits (although my mom swears it does), but if you’re having problems with slugs, insects or even deer – this could be your solution!

Consider the “territorial principle” too. It says that most animals prefer to avoid areas where they feel vulnerable. So by making things look tougher than they really are, they’ll stay away because they equate it with danger. If you plant thorny roses all around your garden … or use other similar plants throughout the space … then rabbits and other animals will see it as far less welcoming; to be honest I’m not sure I’d want to get repeatedly pricked when trying to eat, either!

Here are some great planting ideas for a (hopefully) rabbit free garden:

1) Ageratum

Ageratum, also known as Floss Flower, Indian Hollyhock or “Joe Pye Weed”, is a plant that repels rabbits. When the plants are dried and then burned, they produce a thick smoke that will likely chase away rabbits from your garden. The dried leaves from this plant can be added to your compost bin to repel pests like slugs and snails.

2) Basil

As an annual herb there is nothing quite like using basil for culinary purposes in your kitchen…but did you know it’s toxic to animals? That’s right – try planting basil to ward off rabbits.

3) Coleus

Coleus is another plant that repels rabbits. The smell coming from the leaves of this pleasant looking succulent should be enough to keep at bay those pesky bunnies who seem to enjoy chewing on your prized flowers and vegetable plants. You can also try planting coleus in pots around your house as a protection from mice and squirrels if you don’t have a yard.

4) Catnip:

Did you know catnip is toxic to cats? It’s true! Cats will run away from it whenever they catch a whiff, but shouldn’t we all avoid catnip in the first place because of its very high toxicity level? Just think about it -we plant catnip in our gardens to lure cats away from the garden – now you know why. If something that repels mice and rabbits is so toxic to a cat, then what does it do when ingested?

5)  English Ivy:

English Ivy is not only great for hanging baskets as an ornamental indoor plant, but it can also repel rabbits . You can either trim branches off of your already existing ivy plants and place them around your garden (make sure they are tied up or stuck into the ground). Or you can divide some clippings from the mother plant and transplant these into pots and put them outside with rabbit protection purposes in mind. Keep in mind that both methods should work well at keeping those pesky rabbits outof your garden.

6) Marigolds:

The smell that marigolds give off is not only pleasant to humans, but it is also very offensive to rabbits . If you have a big enough space in your yard or garden for planting this beautiful, annual flower then consider putting some of them there as rabbit protection. You want the stalks and leaves in particular – so you can either trim branches from the mother plant and put them around your garden (make sure they are tied up or stuck into the ground) or divide some clippings from the mother plant and transplant these into pots and put them outside with rabbit protection purposes in mind. Either method should work well at keeping those pesky rabbits out of your garden.

7) Mint

Mint isn’t just good for making tea – it also repels rabbits. A few plants of this perennial herb by your garden or flower beds will ward off such unwanted pests to your vegetable plants and bulbs.

8) Oregano:

Oregano might make a delicious addition to pizzas but it is what you should consider planting as rabbit protection if you’re trying to keep them away from certain areas of your yard or garden. Foxes are also said to dislike the smell of oregano, so perhaps choosing a spot where both foxes and rabbits will be kept at bay would be ideal! Lastly, marigolds do well in pots around the house as a protection against mice and squirrels without having to give up yard space.

9) Sage:

Consider planting sage in your garden as snake and rabbit protection. It is claimed that both snakes and rabbits do not like this herb for reasons unknown, but if it’s good enough for a nice roast chicken recipe then perhaps it will save your other plants from being eaten up too! Also, marigolds do well in pots around the house as a protection against mice and squirrels without having to give up yard space.

10) Tansy:

Tansy can be used similarly to oregano by using its leaves alone or placing sprigs in the ground near the area of your garden you’d like to protect from rabbits. If you are looking for a more dramatic rabbit repellent, however, you can always try using the flowers as well.

By their nature, gardeners are a gentle sort. They prefer to grow plants rather than kill pests. But if you’ve been raising food in your garden only to lose it to rabbits, you may be tempted to get mean and try poison baits, traps or other exterminators of the bunny kind.

Spray water is not considered cruel because it doesn’t harm rabbits; they run away when they hear the sound of a hose being turned on. Another visual trick involves “confusing” them by scattering corn cobs around your garden or yard with rabbit-sized holes bored into them. The cobs could be hidden by mulched leaves or straw piled high enough so that the ends stick up from the top like little trees, according to experts at the Cal-IPC.

Do not use this method in areas where cats or dogs could easily get to them. Also, do not leave cobs in place for more than a week because they will start sprouting.

Trying other methods of keeping rabbits out of your garden include hanging shiny helium balloons that can be buoyed up with a string. An early morning or late afternoon breeze might make them move silently, providing a visual distraction from the garden’s bounty.

Another, and more extreme, option is to find an owl to live in your neighborhood. Not all owls have equal powers of fear for rabbits, but if one moves in nearby, you can bet that rabbit raids will dissipate in your yard and leave enough food for everyone – including passing birds who stop by to eat what the bunnies don’t. There are ways to attract owls to take up residence near you, because even small numbers of these wise creatures can keep most other critters under control, such as rodents – and maybe even some human neighbors too!

The Humane Society cleverly suggests one final trick: put an owl box in your yard, these are available at leading garden centers or online. Or, if you are handy with a saw, why not make your own owl box. Once an owl moves in, it may decide to make your neighborhood a permanent home. The great thing about owls is that they eat rodents and insects, so they could be a friend to all the other creatures who live around you!

At the end of the day, trying to keep your garden safe from rabbits and other creatures can feel like a losing battle, however, by following some of the above tips, we can at least try and put up a fight!

Let us know how you keep rabbits out of your garden in the comments section below

 


20 Comments

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  1. I live in a rural area and always have a lot of wild rabbits. I often find that they’ve eaten my vegetables before the plants are big enough to harvest. Consequently, I had to resort to setting up some “bunny fences” that allowed me through with long handles on both sides for grabbing weeds but proved very difficult or impossible for them to get over without getting their heads caught in openings between the wires because their bottoms are so short. Several woodland stream feeders also helped cut down on how many were coming into the garden by providing artificial water sources nearby.

  2. There are many ways that you can keep rabbits out of your garden, from a physical barrier such as wire mesh to passive repellents like hanging chili peppers. Place these vegetables on stakes around the outside or inside of your garden to make them harder for animals to reach, and they’ll deter them in the process.If you’re feeling ambitious, try planting thorny shrubs such as roses or hawthorn that will serve as another deterrent and slow down any would-be invaders while also producing beauty for your eye.
    It’s worth mentioning that rabbit populations are often lower closer to cities because there is less natural vegetation available for them!

  3. Rabbits are smart and will always find a way to get in if given an opportunity. They’re agile creatures that move with speed and agility of the small prey they eat, but as soon as something blocks their path- like a fence- they’ll stop.

    If you don’t want your garden destroyed, keep it blocked off with a fence or other obstacle. It might be prudent not to reintroduce any vegetation back into the area either until the rabbits have moved on–the greenery creates cover for them and more tasty potential food! And speaking of delicious plants, try planting some herbs in containers to deter these pests from what would otherwise be an easy meal for them

  4. Havasupai Trick

    -Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap.
    -Spray any plants or areas that you don’t want the rabbits to get into. The vinegar is harmful to their little noses and the dish soap tends to give them trouble breathing. It stings their eyes as well, so they’ll avoid it in general!
    American Solution
    -Don’t plant anything things these animals like to eat (i.e vegetables) around your garden! Leaves are nice too though depending on what kind of animal you have outside. Rabbits tend not be as interested in leaves, but many other animals will strip your trees bare if you’re not careful!

  5. The most cost-effective way to keep rabbits out of your garden is with a cinder block wall. Inexpensive and easy to do, this technique has the added benefit of preventing soil erosion.

    Some people opt for cat litter, but too many toxins in the cat litter could make it dangerous for children or animals. Other people use commercial repellants that may work for a time, but those also come at an expense. Try placing reflectors around your garden or property; a rabbit won’t often enter danger if they see their shadow can be seen from where they are on the other side approaching you.”
    Fencing can also work; just remember that fencing should be at least 3 feet high!

  6. Bunnies are going to come back unless they’re killed, but there are a few things you can try first.
    First of all, it’s a good idea to put up any barriers or nets in order to keep them from hopping over. That should discourage them for a while. Secondly, you could consider putting up nauseating smells like oleoresin capsicum so that the rabbits will avoid your vegetables and plants preferentially as they can’t stand the smell anyway!

  7. One way you can keep rabbits out of your garden is to fence them off. You should also avoid planting vegetables or anything that smells like food, such as herbs. Rabbits are mainly attracted by the taste of vegetables and will eat through your garden to get at them. There are specially designed products available for this, in which case all you would need is a gardener who could install it for you with some ease.

    Another thing to do if you want to have a flowerbed without any worry about intrusion from wild animals such as rabbits, squirrels, birds etc., is set up an electric fence on the outside border of the bed and line it with an insulating material so they don’t get zapped when touching it

  8. It is not possible to keep rabbits out of your garden permanently, but you can use a number of methods in the hope that this will deter them from re-visiting. Consider these tips:

    1) Build an electric fence and loop it around your garden. They won’t cross it, even if they’re starving!
    2) The old fashioned way – put a scarecrow in the ground and trim any overgrowth so that he can see what’s coming for miles around him. He’ll yell at any intruder and scare them away!
    3) Create square rings of potting soil with no plants in each square, then fill up each grouping with a different crop – all planted on their own row

  9. There are many recipes to keep rabbits out of your garden, and some include the use of natural ingredients that are safe for people and rabbits alike.
    Let’s take a look at some common herbal deterrents!
    If they can’t find their way into your garden through smell alone, chances are they won’t be able to jump over your walls. However, if they do manage sneak in…
    Netting is an effective solution to stop them from destroying any more greenery than what you’ve already prepared for them outside. If netting isn’t enough…
    Scare tactics such as making loud noises or spraying water might just do the trick.
    It’s also worth noting that planting things like garlic can ward off hungry bunnies

  10. Basically, there is no way to keep rabbits out of your garden. They are omnivores and they eat almost anything. Rabbits are very smart creatures that have adapted quite well to urbanization and would easily be able to find your garden by using all their senses, and just some good old intelligence.
    The best solution I could come up with is to offer them something more appetizing than what you’re growing in the garden, like fruit or vegetables on a fence so it’s at an accessible height for them when they jump over it. But really, nothing can stop them but fences taller than you; if you want a cool looking aesthetically pleasing fence check out this here

  11. That’s a tough one. I would be very careful about putting out small children near wire fences or anything that they crawl under because rabbits are known for darting into areas where humans and children live. From what I’ve seen around my town, there haven’t been too many of those complaints, so I’m assuming the answer is to keep fruit trees to block them from getting in as well as vegetables next to your garden after harvesting them. In any case, some say cats can help scare rabbits off as they tend to do with other pests like birds and moles since they’re natural predators in this area.
    If you have issues with mice coming into your house or yard I would assume these same tips above apply for keeping rabbits

  12. 1) Make sure there’s nothing that attracts them to the garden, e.g., fruit trees or potted plants containing delectable vegetables.
    2) Fencing (which should extend a foot above ground level and a few inches below ground level).
    3) Sprinklers set on timers to automatically turn on every hour during daylight hours.
    4) A dog patrol at all times. 5). Soapy water for protection from weeds and bugs . 6). Gazebos/huts are great if you really want to get out in the garden for some sun & fresh air but don’t want rabbits eating your flowers! And don’t forget those gazebos make an excellent location for throwing

  13. The best way to keep rabbits out of your garden is to plant plants that they just don’t like: garlic, onions, chives and leeks. Rabbits hate the smell of these plants and aren’t interested in them anymore. Another great solution for you would be a motion activated sprinkler! This is a really fun approach because it scares off your bunny friend with some water too!

  14. We all know that everyone’s gotta eat, but they don’t have to be eating from your garden. We’re not sure what kind of rabbits you have, or if the rabbits are food animals like those in Asia who’ll willingly munch on peas for hours at a time. But we do need to come up with something fast because it sounds like these bunnies are digging and munching their way into your precious land faster than you can say “Sam”. So here’s some ideas on how to keep them away from your veggies:
    Tracy Spitzer

  15. The only way to keep rabbits out of your garden is to install a five foot high fence around it. If you don’t want to do that, then rig up traps with carrots as bait and dump the body parts in an area where the rabbits are going to urinate and leave droppings. The stench is hard for them to get past. There’s also a potion called predator urine (not “pervert” urine) that can be purchased from pet stores, which consists of coyote/fox musk mixed with water in various ratios depending on how aggressive you want things ~~or how brave they are~~

  16. Carrots. Pack your garden with them! They work like a charm. By taste, fences all have drawbacks that rabbits can navigate or hop over or dig under, but carrots are too hard for the rabbit to break and they’re delicious so the rabbit goes away in search of a better tasting carrot-less garden.

  17. If you have a large enough yard, you can create an enclosure for the rabbits to call their own, or put up fencing that blocks their access. You can also use scent repellents and motion-activated sprinklers. Be aware of your natural predators (snakes, spiders) as well! If any members of the family aren’t fond of rabbits but love gardening do speak up–getting rid of all the snails is totally worth some rabbit competition. Planting vegetables and fruit plants along raised beds can make them less inviting for bunny browsing as well! Happy rabbits make happy gardens because they provide crucial soil aeration and water infiltration that prevents erosion on sloping properties.

  18. It would take a lot of time, energy and money to build a barrier that rabbits can’t get past. I have found it far more effective to plant hops as the outermost layer right up against the fence or wall for maximum protection. The hops not only taste terrible but they smell so bad that no rabbit will risk going within feet of them. Hops vines are also excellent supports for plants grown on top of an old wooden pallet because they grow quickly and provide support without blocking out sunshine or air flow like bamboo poles do.

  19. Go to the rabbit show, They’ll set up their wares and there will be a demonstration on how to wear a straw hat. Wear that hat for gardening, cooking, working outside – rabbits never go near someone who’s looking so ridiculous!

  20. Keep the rabbits’ living space a secret. The more densely populated an area is with humans, the less likely it is for them to survive anyway- and if they do manage to make their way into your yard, it should be done quietly over time. If you happen to have pets or other animals in your house though, this could lead to disaster; so read on!
    One of the best ways people recommend getting rid of them (rabbits) is by sprinkling chili powder around where they are trying to grow plants and vegetables in order for them not to eat any food that might be planted there. But beware of dogs also eating the seeds or plants that may have been eaten by this very uninvited guest!