How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

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Rabbit. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Tired of having bunnies make off with your harvest? Here's how to keep rabbits out of your garden and off of your most-wanted list:

Fence Your Garden

Installing a fence around your vegetable garden takes time and money, but if you build it right, it'll keep rabbits (and many other pests) out for many years to come. To build a rabbit-proof fence, go at least two feet tall (three is better), and bury another 6-8 inches of fence material under the ground.

This will prevent rabbits from burrowing under your fence.

While picket fences are pretty, you'll find that a fence made of hardware cloth or chicken wire does a better job of keeping rabbits out. If you prefer the look of a picket fence, just wrap the inside with hardware cloth.​

Not interested in fencing in your garden? Then, consider these other options:

Mark Your Territory

Animals mark their territory, and you can, too. Scatter pet fur or human hair around the perimeter of your garden to trick rabbits into thinking a predator is nearby. Another option is to treat the area with fox or coyote urine. Both are available commercially in spray and granule form. Just sprinkle them around the outside of your garden, and reapply throughout the season (particularly after a hard rain) to ensure that the scent remains strong.

A Warning: Many gardeners recommend spreading used kitty litter around the edge of your garden.

While this is probably an effective rabbit deterrent, it's not a safe practice. Cat poop contains bacteria and could contain parasites. Dispose of litter properly, so your family doesn't get sick.

Fertilize with Blood Meal or Bone Meal

You need to fertilize your plants anyway, so go with something that rabbits hate.

Both blood meal and bone meal are repellent to rabbits (who do their best to stay away from predators). Just know that these fertilizers may not be a safe option, if you have pets that spend time outdoors.​

Plant Things They Don't Like

Rabbits have food likes and dislikes, just like you and me. Use that to your advantage by planting the things that they don't like on the outside of your garden and the things that they do like on the inside of your garden (where they're less likely to find them). Some plants that they don't like/aren't likely to eat:

  • Potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Marigolds

And some plants that you'll want to take measures to protect:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli

Note: Rabbits have individual preferences, just like humans. Use your own experience to tell you which plants you need to protect.

Add Prickly Things to Your Garden

Discourage rabbits from entering your garden by planting things that feel sharp or prickly under foot -- squash and cucumbers are good examples. For maximum protection, try to lay out your garden, so that prickly vegetables are planted next to rabbit favorites. Then, go a step further by mulching with sharp materials, like pine cones or egg shells (which also happen to be an excellent fertilizer).

Leave the Weeds in Your Lawn

Rabbits love clover, wild violets and many other common weeds. Allow them to grow in your lawn, and rabbits may not even bother with your garden. Some gardeners have found that planting peas, beans, beets and other rabbit favorites in another part of their yard helped to draw rabbits away from their "real" garden.

Clean Up Your Yard

Overgrown shrubs and brush piles provide the perfect habitat for rabbits. Spend some time tidying up, so your yard is less inviting to four-legged foragers.

Know where the rabbits are living? Fill in their burrow to encourage them to move on.

Put Your Cat or Dog on the Job

Rabbits are most active around dusk. Let your cat or dog out in the evening, and they'll clear up your rabbit problem in a hurry, either by chasing them off or making a snack of them.