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You finally got your garden all set up. You amended your soil and made it nutrient dense. You worked tirelessly over your seedlings and planted them in the ground.
Only to have it destroyed by rabbits.
While rabbits aren’t near as destructive as deer or even raccoons, no one likes seeing their lettuce half munched and their peas all but gone.
Rabbits, in my opinion, are a homesteading nightmare. They reproduce like… well, rabbits 😂 meaning that cute cuddly fluff ball can very quickly turn into an all out infestation of garden veggie hoarding nuisances.
Are rabbits eating your garden?
If you’re not sure if rabbits or another, equally annoying, critter are munching on your garden goods, it’s time to do a little investigation.
Rabbits prefer young, tender plants in comparison to their older, tougher counterparts. They will typically leave clean cut damage, not the jagged, messy holes that most insects leave behind.
If your plants are passed the seedling stage, you probably have another garden pest on your hand. Be sure to check for burrows as woodchucks and groundhogs enjoy the same fare that rabbits do.
You can also check for their little droppings. They’ll either be scattered about or in piles among your garden.
While I truly believe that coexisting with natures critters is incredibly important, that doesn’t mean I want them dining on my food. So, what’s a gardener to do?
Find ways to naturally repel rabbits from the garden so they’re not eating the food to begin with.
How to Naturally Repel Rabbits from Your Garden
It’s best to begin your natural repellent protocol first thing in the spring as rabbits love the new plants and tend to steer away from older plants.
Keeping rabbits out of your garden with a fence is absolutely the most effective means of repelling them.
A 2 foot high chicken wire fence buried 6 inches deep around the entire perimeter will generally do the job just fine. Alternatively, you can put chicken wire around mature plants you don’t want rabbits to much. Or, lay some type of netting over new plants (which are their favorite to begin with).
Rabbits have tastes just like everyone else and they don’t like everything found in the garden. You can plant things they don’t like around the perimeter to help deter their antics, next to plants they do like, or use something as a ground cover to discourage nibbling.
Generally, rabbits don’t care for plants that are prickly or have a strong odor. Some plants that rabbits don’t care much for are:
- Bee Balm
- Black Eyed Susan
- Japanese Maple
- Lemon Balm
- Virginia Creeper
- English Ivy
Scare Them (naturally)
I go by gardens and see aluminum pie pans, pretend owls, and a host of other things floating around. While these work for a bit, rabbits aren’t stupid and will eventually figure out that that pie pan flying around isn’t going to harm them and they’ll go right past it.
The best way to keep them out on a more “permanent” basis is to let your cats, dogs, and their natural predators (think hawks and similar things you don’t want getting your chickens) to roam the yard.
Will rabbits still get in your garden if your dog is right there laying next to it? Absolutely, but it’s far less likely than if you had no real life predators roaming around the property.
Make Them Feel Vulnerable
Rabbits like to have a comfortable place to hide. This is why most of the time, they won’t go into the center of your garden. They will typically hang out around the edges.
If rabbits don’t have a place to hide, they are far less likely to bother with your garden. This means removing brush piles and excess leaves and filling in their old burrows. It won’t completely keep them away, but if they have no place to hide and no place to live, they are far more likely to find somewhere else to be.
Plant Their Favorites (in a different spot)
I know what you’re thinking “I want to keep rabbits out of my garden and here this crazy woman is telling me to plant stuff they like?!” But, hear me out.
Rabbits are more than likely going to show up and be around your property regardless of what you do to keep them away. But, you may be able to keep them out of your garden by satisfying them in a patch all their own.
Combined with some of the other efforts here, planting a small patch of clover or alfalfa (a couple of their absolute faves) may satisfy their desires for fresh food and keep them out. I’m not saying this will be an absolute. But, it can help you both coexist. And well, bunnies are cute so it’s hard to stay mad at them (until they eat all of my beans and lettuce, then, it’s on).
Homemade Natural Rabbit Repellent
There are tons of pungent smells straight from your garden that rabbits do not care for. While this repellent shouldn’t be your only line of defense, it can definitely work in your favor.
You’ll have to reapply this spray any time it rains or, alternatively, you can fill a satchel with a bunch of crushed garlic cloves and hang them at sniffer level around the garden paying special attention to the most loved on plants.
- 3 Chili Peppers (or other hot peppers)
- 3 Large Onions
- One Large Bunch of Garlic
- One Gallon of Water (plus some more to cover)
Blend or grind together the peppers, onions, and garlic. Place in a metal or glass dish (it will permeate plastic, so don’t use that). Cover it with water and allow it to sit overnight undisturbed.
Add enough water to the mixture to make a full gallon.
Spray onto plants you don’t want bothered, paying special attention to rabbit height areas.
Rabbits can absolutely be a nuisance, especially as we quickly approach spring planting season and will have an abundance of fresh, tender, green shoots coming up out of the ground. But, with a little work, you can help keep these pesky pests out of your garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor without their taste testing assistance.