It can be pretty tricky to deal with rabbits in your garden simply because they are too adorable – after all, who would really want to harm these furry little creatures hopping about so innocently around your yard? The truth is, rabbits are among the most destructive garden animals, thanks to their voracious appetites and love for practically anything edible. Luckily, there’s no shortage of natural, cruelty-free ways to keep them away from your garden.
The best natural ways to keep rabbits from eating your plants include putting up a fence, getting rid of possible covers and shelters, planting pungent flowers, making a repellent spray, spreading blood meal around your plants, using predator urine, and installing motion-activated sprinklers.
In this article, I’ll be discussing safe and natural ways to keep rabbits from eating your plants, such as putting up barriers, using pungent odors, and scaring them away with lights and some water. I will also give some tips on how you can concoct your own rabbit-repellent sprays using ingredients you most probably have in your kitchen. Let’s get started!
1. Put Up a Fence to Keep Rabbits Away
You can surround your plants with a solid fence to keep rabbits away. Chicken wire or mesh wire are great options because they are strong, durable, and inexpensive. They are easy to build, too. A 2-foot (61 cm) tall wire fence would suffice since rabbits are pretty small, and they can rarely jump that high.
Make sure that the wire openings are no more than one inch (2.54 cm) wide to prevent rabbits from being able to poke their noses and sharp teeth through. Ideally, your fence must be buried several inches into the ground to keep rabbits from crawling under. Remember that they are good at burrowing, and not securing your fence deep into the ground will provide them an opportunity to access your plants.
2. Get Rid of Possible Rabbit Covers and Shelter
Avoid clutter in your garden. Get rid of items that may provide cover or shelter for unwanted garden visitors, such as rabbits. Stacks of wood, piles of leaves, or even unused benches will give edgy rabbits a sense of safety and security.
Maintain wide open spaces. This garden setup will make rabbits and other small animals think twice before approaching your plants. They will feel vulnerable and exposed in areas that do not provide them with cover from potential predators. They will look elsewhere for food if your garden is deemed unsafe and risky territory.
3. Plant Pungent Flowers, Herbs, and Vegetables
Rabbits rely a lot on their keen sense of smell when looking for food. Their little noses are always up in the air, wiggling and sniffing, trying to pinpoint good food sources. You can take advantage of this apparent strength by using plants with distinct aromas to deter rabbits from eating your precious plants. Rabbits shy away from particular odors, and having them around your garden is a surefire way of keeping these furry pests at bay.
Here are some flowers and plants that may help repel rabbits from your garden:
These are some of the vegetables that rabbits find offensive:
Here are some herbs that rabbits detest:
Companion planting is a reliable way of keeping plants safe from ravenous pests. Plant these flowers, vegetables, and herbs around the plants that rabbits love. The off-putting scent of these pungent plants will discourage them from approaching your plants or from even entering your garden.
4. Make Your Own Rabbit-Repellent Spray
You can make your own rabbit-repellent spray to protect your plants from these voracious nibblers. You can combine scents they detest into a potent spray that will surely send them scurrying away. Rabbits will not want to go near anything that smells unpleasant or irritates their sensitive noses.
Here is a simple recipe for a rabbit-repellent spray:
- 2 garlic bulbs
- 4 medium-sized onions
- 4 cups of fresh peppermint
- 5 medium-sized red chili peppers
- Chop all the ingredients. Roughly chopping them into halves will do.
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until you attain a semi-liquid consistency.
- Add 1 cup (250 ml) of water. Blend again.
- Pour the mixture into a resealable container. Seal the container.
- Set aside for at least 24 hours. This will allow the intense aromas to settle.
- Pour the mixture into a large spray bottle. Use a strainer to get rid of any solid particles.
- Add water to make the mixture more fluid. Shake well.
Spray this rabbit-repellent mixture all over your plants and garden. You may also spray it on the ground frequently used by rabbits as entry points to your yard. As soon as rabbits get a whiff of the unpleasant odor, they will scurry away and search elsewhere for food.
5. Use Vinegar Spray
Vinegar has a distinct, arguably offensive smell that even humans sometimes balk at. The scent has a penetrating property to it and tends to linger in the air. Just imagine how rabbits will react to this odor, given their keener sense of smell.
Simply dilute some white vinegar in water, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and spray liberally on the areas surrounding your plants. Rabbits will not approach the area no matter how enticing your plants may be. Spray vinegar weekly until the rabbits have learned not to approach your garden at all.
Make sure that you do not spray vinegar solution directly on your plants. It can make leaves and stems wilt. Do not spray on the soil directly under your plants either. Vinegar will seep through and cause the roots to rot. Spray vinegar solution at least a foot (30 cm) away from your plants, creating a foul-smelling barrier that will keep rabbits from approaching.
6. Whip Up Your Own Cayenne Pepper Spray
Cayenne pepper is an effective tool in keeping rabbits away from your garden. It has a pungent odor and can irritate the eyes, nose, and mouth upon contact. You can sprinkle ground cayenne pepper around your plants, or you can also make a spray. Make sure cayenne pepper does not touch your plants’ leaves and stems because it can cause wilting and leaf burn.
Here is how to make cayenne pepper spray:
- Pour 2 cups (500 ml) of water into a resealable container.
- Add ¼ cup of ground cayenne pepper.
- Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap.
- Mix it well.
- Allow the mixture to sit and infuse for at least 12 hours.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Use a strainer to get rid of any solid particles.
- Spray around your plants to keep rabbits from eating them.
7. Spread Blood Meal Around Your Garden
Blood meal, which is actually dried blood, is a great way to instill fear in those high-strung, meek rabbits. This gives them the impression that predators are nearby and might have recently made a kill. Rabbits wouldn’t want to suddenly become a snack, for sure. They will hurry back to safety at the slightest whiff of blood.
Blood meal is also good for your plants. It adds a little bit of nitrogen to the soil, aiding in making plants stronger and healthier. Be careful, though, if your dogs have access to your garden. They will love the smell. They might think a sumptuous meal is buried underneath the soil and might start digging.
8. Buy Predator Urine
Rabbits are always on the lookout for danger. Predators might be lurking nearby, so they don’t like wide-open areas where they might feel exposed and unsafe. Take advantage of their apparent paranoia by creating the illusion that predators are indeed lurking in the shadows and corners of your garden.
You can buy predator urine from gardening centers, hardware stores, and online. Spread the scent among your plants, not directly on their leaves and stems.
Note that the smell might be offensive to you as well. It is animal urine, after all. However, predator urine is guaranteed to make rabbits think twice before venturing into your garden, especially if the urine is associated with predators they have encountered in the wild.
Here are some of their usual predators:
9. Sprinkle Coffee Grounds Around Your Plants
Coffee grounds help make the soil more acidic. Some plants will benefit from this subtle change in soil quality. Coffee grounds also have a distinct aroma that most garden pests, including rabbits, find unappealing. The scent will make them uncomfortable enough to want to look for food somewhere else.
Simply sprinkle coffee grounds around the plants usually ravaged by rabbits. They will no longer want to go near these plants because of the foul odor. Keep in mind that coffee grounds affect the quality of the soil. You might want to use this tactic no more than twice a month since some plants may be harmed if the soil starts becoming too acidic.
10. Sprinkle Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper is a powerful pest deterrent. The pungent smell attacks the eyes, irritates the nostrils, and, when accidentally consumed, can burn the mouth and throat. Rabbits are not immune to the potency of red peppers, so you can use this handy kitchen staple to keep them from eating your plants.
Roughly chop some red chili peppers and scatter the flakes around your garden, especially around rabbits’ favorite plants. For added potency, you can mix them with coffee grounds, too. Use this strategy carefully, especially if you allow your pets to roam your garden freely. You wouldn’t want them to be among the victims of this potent pest repellent.
11. Sprinkle Dried Sulfur
Most garden supply stores offer dried sulfur because it is reliable in deterring common garden pests, including rabbits. Dried sulfur smells like rotten eggs, so it is sure to make rabbits lose their appetite or at least label your garden as a stinky, unpleasant place.
Sprinkle the dried sulfur around the base of your plants. The smell will permeate the air and linger for several days to a week. You may reapply when the odor starts to dissipate. Be careful with dried sulfur if you have pets freely roaming around your garden. They might get curious about the scent and start digging around your plants.
12. Scatter Cotton Balls Soaked in Essential Oils
This is another great way to mess with a rabbit’s keen sense of smell. Essential oils are chock-full of fragrance. Their scent usually permeates and lingers in the air. Rabbits will find the aroma extremely annoying and want to get away from the foul odor as soon as possible.
Here are some essential oils that rabbits may find irritating:
Place 4-6 drops of your essential oil of choice in large cotton balls. Scatter these pungent-smelling fluff balls all over your garden, particularly around the plants that rabbits seem to have grown to love. Tuck them into the soil, between stems, or on plants’ leaves. You can also place them in entryways or pathways frequented by these furry, ravenous eaters.
13. Scatter Hair Clippings All Over Your Garden
This might seem a bit odd, but hair clippings are effective in scaring rabbits away from your garden. You can use human hair clippings or hair clippings from your pets. Scattering them all over your garden will make rabbits think that a human or some other animal is lurking nearby.
Being inherently nervous creatures, they will immediately want to scurry back to safety and away from your garden and plants.
14. Install Wind Chimes
Rabbits are easily frightened. They have excellent hearing (After all, what are those large ears for?) and can get scared by the slightest noise. The fact that lots of animals prey on them is probably a factor in why they seem to be always on edge.
Install wind chimes around your garden to keep rabbits from entering and eating your plants. Pinpoint the areas in your garden that usually have drafts. The sporadic and unpredictable winds will trigger the chimes and send rabbits running away in fright.
15. Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers
Another way to scare rabbits away without hurting them is by installing motion-activated sprinklers. They will trigger the sensors as they hop about in your garden. The sudden burst of water will surprise them and send them scrambling away. At the same time, your plants will receive a (likely) much-needed watering as well.
16. Install Motion-Activated Lights
Rabbits are crepuscular. This means they are usually active at dawn and dusk. This is when they come out of their burrows looking for food. Take advantage of the lack of light during these times of the day by installing motion-activated lights around your garden to scare rabbits away.
When hungry rabbits come out of their burrows to search for food, the plants, vegetables, and fruits in your garden will undoubtedly grab their attention. As they approach, hopping and darting about, they will trigger the sensors, and lights will turn on, flooding the garden with sudden brightness. The rabbits will get spooked and will scamper away.
17. Protect Your Plants With Netting
Nettings have always been a go-to for gardeners in protecting plants from different types of pests. Plant nettings can deter tiny insects (such as aphids, mealybugs, and thrips) and animals (like chipmunks, deer, and rabbits) from feasting on plants. As long as you invest in good-quality netting, you can rest assured that your plants will be kept safe from these voracious eaters.
When using nettings to deter rabbits, ensure the nettings are secured firmly to the ground. You may want to use landscape staples to ensure that rabbits won’t be able to dig and crawl underneath to get to your plants. This also helps keep the nettings in place in case there are strong winds or heavy rain.
18. Protect Seedlings Using Chicken Wire Cylinders
Rabbits sometimes prefer snacking on seedlings and other tender plants because they’re easier to tear apart and nibble on. Protect these plants from these voracious eaters by encasing each plant in chicken wire shaped into cylinders. They’re pretty easy to make and inexpensive, too.
Make sure to leave some extra room around each plant so it can grow and thrive. Ensure that the chicken wire cylinders are firmly secured to the ground with landscape staples. The cylinders must be able to withstand some shoving and nibbling from pushy rabbits.
Here is how to make chicken wire cylinders:
- Grab some chicken wire. It should be wide enough to go around your plant.
- Roll the chicken wire into a cylinder. Secure the ends with zip ties.
- Arrange the chicken wire cylinder around your plant. Secure it firmly to the ground with landscape staples.
19. Get a Pet
If you’ve always wanted a pet but can’t decide on whether or not you’re up for the responsibilities that come with it, this might be the sign you’ve been waiting for. Having a pet roaming your garden will keep rabbits away. Dogs and cats aren’t rabbit predators, but another animal living in the garden will make rabbits nervous. They would not want to intrude on another animal’s territory.
For more ideas on how to keep rabbits out of your garden, check out my other article: How to Keep Rabbits Out of a Garden Without a Fence