Rabbits are adorable until they get into the garden.
Rabbits are adorable until they get into the garden.

"Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries. But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate! First he ate some lettuces and some French beans. And then he ate some radishes. And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley."

-The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter

Many of us have dealt with a Beatrix Potter scenario of our own, in which Peter or one of his adorable brethren shows up in the garden, gobbling up crops and then scurrying back down the bunny trail.

The average rabbit doesn’t live longer than a year and a half, but they breed like...well, rabbits, a single rabbit producing up to 18 offspring a year. Once they have established themselves in an area, the number of these cuddly pests anxious to visit your garden grows quickly and it doesn’t take long for a vegetable garden to be reduced to vacant lot status once they have discovered the bounty within.


Here's One Way to Keep Rabbits Out 13 photos

If you’re already dealing with this fluffy scourge or preventative measures are in order, a few thoughtful steps can be taken to reduce their impact without digging out grandma’s recipe for rabbit stew.

Plant Vegetables They Hate

Few plants are reliably rabbit-proof, but favoring crops they aren’t usually drawn to may send them shopping elsewhere. Good candidates include peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and squash.

Plant Vegetables They Love

It may seem counter-intuitive to cater to the palate of the pest you’re trying to avoid, but planting rabbit favorites like beans, peas, parsley or rosemary may save your garden...just plant them somewhere else. Cultivating a “decoy” garden nearby (but not too close) may keep them from invading your primary plot.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A wire fence even just two or three feet high will keep the bunnies at bay. If installing a barrier fence, bury the bottom by trenching down six inches to discourage them from digging their way in.

Cages

Not for the rabbits, but for the plants. Enclose plants, trees or shrubs with a cylinder of mesh at least three inches from the base of the plant to discourage nibbling.

Cages (The Other Kind)

Hav-a-Hart style traps are a safe and humane way to capture invading rabbits for relocating.

What’s That Smell?


20 Plants and Flowers Rabbits Detest 22 photos

Many commercial repellents are available for keeping rabbits at bay, including the urine or blood of predators like foxes or coyotes and can be applied using sprayers or by hanging swatches of scented cloth along the garden perimeter. 

Other natural repellents include chili powder, soap or vinegar. This may not provide long-term relief, as rabbits become accustomed to the odors. 

Habitat Control

Take away attractive locations for rabbits to settle and they will move on. Remove brush or lawn debris, keep grass mowed, eliminate weeded areas and cover any existing burrows to send rabbits packing. In urban and suburban areas where natural habitats are limited, this may be all it takes to keep your garden rabbit free.

14 Comments About this Article

  • Jon
    Another ingredient to add to the homemade repellent would be ammonia. It is a smell associated with urine as well. As someone who has hosta may know it kills slugs and it breaks down nitrites into nitrates and releases nitrogen as fertilizer as a bonus. 10% to 20% will not hurt plants. I think any repellent has to be repeatedly applied. The benefit to mixing up your own is the cot which is a small fraction of any commercial product.

    Posted 12 months ago

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  • Mary
    The picture you've included of the black and white bunny is a domestic dwarf bunny(you can tell it's a dwarf by it's little ears)....if anyone relocated it to "the Wild" it would perish...I work with a rabbit rescue group SaveABunny and we can never believe people who decide they want to "free" bunnies! Domestics are not equipped to live in the wild and will be eaten or maimed by predators...Please call animal care and control if you see any bunny you think might be domestic and save a bunny life...they are the 3rd most popular house pet...I have 2 and am looking for plants they might not like since they love being out in my garden...Thank you

    Posted 12 months ago

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  • Mary
    I'm a little disturbed that Lynn Coulter recommends several plants that will poison rabbits...really?! Also about suggesting thistles and such...remember Br'er Rabbit in the briar patch...they love prickly plants and aren't deterred by them at all.

    Posted 12 months ago

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  • Judy Jac
    they ate all my pepper plants. even the habanero plants right down to the stem. its war against the bunnies and I use daily repellant, nothing keeps them away.

    Posted 12 months ago

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  • anonymous
    I agree Judy, it is war. A few winters ago they even ate all the lower branches of my pine trees. Ended up digging out and tossing the trees! Save-a-bunny regardless of type is NOT in my book. They breed so fast there is no reason for rescue missions. Besides if we weren't here the natural predators would be keeping them in check. Reducing Rabbit populations only gets things closer to the natural order. I've used all of the suggestions including traps. Different ones seem to work on different rabbits. Although Onions have proven to be universally good at keeping them away from nearby plants.

    Posted 4 months ago

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  • anonymous
    We live in the rurals and have a huge garden. It's fully enclosed with chicken wire fencing. Rabbits and squirrels are a very big problem here, so we have traps all around the perimeter of the garden. When one of these rodents is captured we shoot it in the cage with a pellet gun and freeze the body for a friend who raises Falcons. We also get up before sunrise and shoot those rabbits and squirrels who avoid the traps.We did this a couple of years ago and decimated the rodent population, but it has to be done continually. Three years ago we planted a number of Mulberry trees; two of them were denuded, of leaves, overnight by squirrels. I have no problem eliminating any rabbit or squirrel as I view them as greedy destructive vermin. As, I said, we live in the rurals, so these animals have plenty to eat outside of our garden.

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • anonymous
    And, as far as egg smelling, etc repellents, are concerned. We have tried every commercial repellent on the market. The rabbits merely laugh at them and go their merry way.

    Posted 2 months ago

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  • anonymous
    Why not shoot them and eat them? We raised rabbits growing up and they were very nutritious and tasted great!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

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  • anonymous
    If we didn't decimate predators like foxes, coyotes and wolves we wouldn't have rabbit problems. I'm not about to go out and start poisoning and shooting rabbits, but I do welcome any natural predator into my yard.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

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  • anonymous
    Photos of plants that repel bunnies aren't as helpful as a list of plant names. Did I miss that?

    Posted 3 days ago

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