How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

Rabbits love to munch on everything from broccoli and beans to pansies and petunias. Even bushes and trees such as forsythia and flowering crabapple are fair game to these fluffy-tailed herbivores. But aside from occasionally nibbling on your nasturtiums, the varmints don’t do any real damage, according to Mike McGrath, host of the nationally syndicated radio program You Bet Your Garden—and they’re surprisingly easy to vanquish.

“Let’s face it,” McGrath says, “rabbits have no reason to exist other than to be prey for hawks and stuff. And there’s no reason to actually hurt rabbits.”


“American rabbits [namely the common Eastern cottontail, pictured] can’t dig … That’s why you find their nests on the surface,” McGrath continues, adding that the image of rabbits that can burrow enormous distances underground, like Bugs Bunny, is that of European hares—never mind Bugs’s Brooklyn accent! Regardless, here are some natural and humane ways to keep rabbits out of your garden:

See also  What to do about foxes

Build a fence. Since native rabbits can’t dig, and they also can’t jump (“They can’t do much, actually,” as McGrath says), they can be easily contained with fencing. It needn’t even be that tall: “Put up a one-foot-high fence around your garden area and they’re helpless!”

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    Put up plant cages. Like fencing, individual cages can also help prevent bunnies from eating your prized plants.

    How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

    Stan OsolinskiGetty Images

    Use rabbit repellents. You can also pour products with scents rabbits don’t like, including predator urine and blood meal, around and throughout your garden. Some even sprinkle their dogs’ hair on their beds.

    Opt for raised beds. Nikki Tilley, senior editor of Gardening Know How, recommends raised-bed gardening, “which they don’t seem to bother quite as much.”

    Go along and get along. Or, you can take a more relaxed approach, Tilley adds. “While not all gardeners would agree, I have found that creating a spot just for rabbits, like a patch of clover, away from the garden—this works well for those near wooded areas—helps keep them happy.”

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    Jill Gleeson Jill Gleeson is a travel journalist and memoirist based in the Appalachian Mountains of western Pennsylvania who has written for websites and publications including Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Country Living, Washingtonian, Gothamist, Canadian Traveller, and EDGE Media Network.

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