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How to Make Rabbits Stop Eating Your Garden

Submitted by on September 3, 2013 – 6:00 am 42 Comments

 

Greetings, friends!  This post comes courtesy of a reader question I got from our friend and loyal reader,  Jim.  Jim wrote:

My wife lovingly plants a veggie garden every year. 3 years ago we lost our last dog and for the past 3 years rabbits have eaten our entire veggie (raised) garden – ugh! We’ve tried everything except a chicken wire fence (she claims that will be too much of a hassle to weed/garden around). Have you got any suggestions? We can’t get another dog because our granddaughter is allergic to them.

Being that this is quite the common problem, I thought I’d address it in a post.  First, let’s talk a little bit about rabbits and their eating habits (hey, that rhymes!)

Rabbits like to feed at twilight, but are pretty non-picky as long as they get their meal.  Their main preferences as far as vegetables are: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.  They also like very young fruit trees..  Being that rabbits reproduce at quite a rapid pace, they can quickly overtake your garden similar to a scene like Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

Rabbits and other pests are quite common to most people’s gardens, but there are humane ways to rid, or at least ward off the fluffy intruders; ways that don’t include the hassles of a trap or the finality of a .22.  🙂

Here are some tips for keeping your veggies safe from our fluffy friends:

 

1.  Put a fence up, and put it up early.  I know: they are a hassle, those chicken wire fences, but it is one of the best ways to keep rabbits and other intruders at bay.  My elderly friend and mentor, Pete, makes a 6 foot high chicken wire fence with wood supports and a door, that looks like a giant see-through room. People go in and out via the door to weed and gather the goodies, and the large “room” he creates every year keeps out the many would-be visitors, including a small, long-time resident black bear.

2.  Scare them away with smell.  “Rabbits sniff everything”, my gardening book says, “and after a sneezing fit, they’ll move on”.  Sprinkling black pepper on your plants in the evening  will send those wascally wabbits running from your garden plants in a fit of sneezing, so the experts say.  Another option is, if you can find their path from their home to your garden, you can sprinkle the path with moth crystals. (no affiliate links within this postDon’t use plain mothballs, however, as they can be dangerous and appealing to kids due to their resemblance to candy.  Another tip suggested sprinkling blood meal around the edges of your garden and/or on your plants will scare rabbits away as well, fearing for their very lives.

3.  Utilize companion planting.  Companion planting has been used for centuries as a way to  help plants grow better.  Planting certain plants next to other plants not only encourages better growth, but can ward off intruders as well.  For instance, planting marigolds in your garden can help ward off certain flying insects with their bright color and intense (to the bugs) scent.  Rabbits in particular dislike onions, so surrounding your lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli with onions, chives and garlic can really do wonders for warding off those pesky “wabbits”.

Jim, and my other gardening friends, I hope this helps a bit.

How about you, readers?  What are your tried and true tips for keeping rabbits from eating your home-grown goodies?

42 Comments »

  • Pauline says:

    I have the same problem with chickens and put a fence all around the garden. Still not much grows but that’s just because I am really bad at it haha.

  • Thomas says:

    I really like the tip about the fence. I never knew about planting companion plants but I think my grandmother did it and I just never knew/asked why. Never heard of blood meal well have to check it out. Our problem are snakes. Living in Florida you see a lot of them crawling around. I’ll take rabbits all day.

    • Laurie says:

      I’d definitely take rabbits too, but more because of the “creepy” factor. 🙂 The blood meal is a little weird too, but whatever works, right? Interesting about your grandma – I’m always amazing at the vast gardening skills those generations had.

  • I am in the process of building a garden in my backyard. so this was a very timely post for me. I didn’t plan on putting up a fence, but it might make sense to put one up. I know my Mom always complains about the rabbits eating her flowers and veggies.

    • Laurie says:

      Good for you guys, DC! Can’t wait to see how you like the world of gardening. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff is delicious. 🙂

  • Rita P says:

    I have been following the companion planting and use marigold to get rid of those insects. This works pretty well also. Sprinkling black pepper is something new to me which I would like to try

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it seems like it should work well in most instances. We did some companion planting this year and it worked out well for us. Thanks, Rita!

  • I have never had a garden but I really want one next year. Right now, we have apple and pear trees and rabbits love to munch on the fallen fruit!

  • Great tip on the fence Laurie! We use chicken wire on our raised beds and that generally does the trick with rabbits – but I never heard about the pepper tick. Our problem is voles – I hate those blasted things and they eat everything!

  • Matt Becker says:

    Nice info. I’ve never kept a garden so I don’t have much to add, but I like the simple ways for curing a big problem. Immediately actionable for anyone with this problem.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Matt! You guys should consider a garden one day; it’s an awesome way to have cheap food, and the kids thoroughly enjoy picking veggies fresh off the vine. 🙂

  • I don’t have a garden right now but, one day I’ll have one. These tips will help me for sure! Thanks Laurie!

  • We put some coyote urine mixture in front of our house to keep away rabbits. I’m not sure exactly where my uncle bought it from but it worked like a charm. I haven’t seen a rabbit in weeks.

  • For some reason I don’t have rabbits in my area of california, but I do have problems with other pests like snails. I need tips for that!

  • Great tips…good to know. I don’t have a garden but my parents love gardening and grow a lot of different things. I don’t think they have a problem with rabbits…but there are a lot of squirrels…I think the tips should work with them too.

    • Laurie says:

      I would imagine that the same things that frighten rabbits off (predators) would frighten squirrels off too. Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

  • Great ideas! I have bunnies all over so knowing how to keep them away will be key in starting my non-container garden next year.

  • anna says:

    Totally random, but after I read the black pepper bit I went on Youtube to search for sneezing rabbits – oh my goodness, adorable! Great tips, Laurie 🙂

  • Patty says:

    I wish I had read this sooner. I planted my lettuce and cabbage plants and the next day it was all gone. You could only see where I had dug up dirt. I have a fenced yard and a dog and they came in the fence and not once disturbed my dog. Going to have to try the black pepper next year. (thinking of a bunny sneezing makes me smile.)

    • Laurie says:

      Oh no!!! LOL, yeah, the sneezing image is hilarious. 🙂 I will likely re-post this in the spring as people get ready to plant again. Thanks for the comment, Patty!

  • Alexa says:

    I have had a snake problem in my garden. I haven’t seen any rabits yet but noticed something was eating my tomatoes. Last week when I went out to check the garden there was a huge garder snake in there!!

  • I really like tips 2 and 3, I love onions and garlic so I will use this tip in the future. In my area I have seen rabbits from time to time, but the biggest intruder to gardens are squirrels. DO these tips work as well with squirrels?

  • Not that I’ve tried much gardening, but our main issue is deer. They seem to get to everything and have killed a few of our newer trees despite wrapping them in the tape stuff and using urine spray around them. It almost makes me want to become a hunter, but they are pretty cute to look at, unless they are eating my trees!

  • With apartment living, rabbits are a non-issue but unfortunately so is having a garden. I’ve tried growing things in pots without much success. I don’t have a ton of direct sunlight, which I think has been an issue. And well … I have a horrible green thumb. I am a renown plant killer. 🙂 My mom, on the other hand, has a green thumb and great big garden. Deer is bigger problem for her and I know they use a fence to help keep the critters out.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, with an apt and not much direct light, a garden would definitely be more difficult. At least you don’t have the critters to worry about. 🙂

  • jim says:

    Laurie,
    Thank you for the input – looks like we’ve got nothing left to do but put up a fence and do it early – Next season – ha! We’ve done the pepper, companion plants and blood meal. None of those things worked. In fact, we laughed as we watched our fattest little rabbit luxuriously lay down in what was left of our veggie garden as he nibbled away on the peppers – the last standing veggies. I’m still hoping to find a robotic dog to get rid of them, but if I can’t find that, I’ll resort to the fence. Thanks much for your input and that of all your readers. Hmm…. maybe next year we can have fresh veggies????

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, at that point, you’d just have to laugh. 🙂 Hopefully the fence will work next year, and you’ll have more fresh veggies than you know what to do with. 🙂

  • I don’t have a garden but its good to know that these tips exist. I like rabbits but probably wouldn’t like them so much if they were eating my plants.

  • These are great tips. We had to put up chicken wire around our garden to keep them out. They sure love to eat those delicious veggie plants.

    • Laurie says:

      They sure do. We are lucky that we’ve not seen much of them out here in the country. My neighbor says it’s because they’re not as used to people as the city bunnies are, so they stay away. 🙂