How to Keep Rabbits from Eating Plants in Your Garden

Bunnies may be fluffy and cute, but they can also be garden saboteurs. Here's how to prevent them from munching on your flowers, shrubs, and vegetables.

No matter how soft-hearted you are, you probably don't want rabbits eating flowers or veggies in your garden, even if they look adorable while doing it. Unfortunately, what works for one gardener in warding off fluffy invaders may be completely ineffective for another. Your neighbor may swear that marigolds planted around the perimeter of her raised veggie garden keep rabbits from eating plants. But the bunnies might happily munch on your marigolds—and everything around them.

Although there are rabbit-resistant plants, you don't have to exclusively fill your garden with plants they'll ignore. Read on to learn how to protect plants from rabbits and send your long-eared visitors (whether jackrabbits or cottontails) looking elsewhere for lunch.

bunny eating grass near daisy
Edward Gohlich


The most reliable way to protect your vegetable garden from rabbits is with fencing. Putting up a fence takes some time and effort, but once it's done, you'll have a permanent barrier. That means you won't have to run around spraying repellants after every rain shower.

Since rabbits don't jump very high, a 2-foot fence can keep them out. Wire fencing with openings of 1 inch or smaller is best, such as chicken wire ($39, The Home Depot) or rabbit wire ($36, The Home Depot). Support the fencing with sturdy stakes, and anchor the bottom to the ground with landscape pins ($5, Walmart) so rabbits can't wiggle their way underneath. More determined rabbits may try to dig under the fence, so it's a good idea to bury the lowest 2 to 3 inches of fencing underground.

Alternatively, if you just have a few plants that rabbits consistently nibble, encircle those with a chicken wire cage pinned securely to the ground. This can be especially important when plants are young or producing lots of new growth in spring. You can also try growing plants you know rabbits love, such as tender lettuces, in hanging baskets or tall containers to keep them out of reach.

Rabbit Repellents

Where a fence is not practical or possible, your next best bet is filling your garden with an offensive odor. Rabbits will turn up their twitchy noses at a garden repellant that contains rotten eggs or garlic. (Bonus: These scents also help repel deer and are safe to use around pets and children.) Wear waterproof gloves while you're spraying so you don't end up smelling awful, too. You'll need to reapply the product after each rain, and if you use a repellent spray on your vegetables, be sure the one you choose is approved for edible plants.

Scare Tactics

Chasing after a rabbit with a rake didn't work well for Mr. McGregor in the story of Peter Rabbit, and it probably won't for you either. Scare tactics are temporary fixes at best, because the rabbits will soon figure out that no actual harm comes to them. Motion sensor lights or water sprays, air horn sounds, flashing CDs hanging from branches, or sparkly streamers moving in the breeze may all help a little at first, but it won't be long before your resident bunnies will just ignore them. The one exception: Dogs that enthusiastically chase away rabbits may scare them off for good. Otherwise, you're better off focusing your efforts on fencing and repellents.

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