Rabbits are, without a doubt, one of nature’s cutest critters. But they can be a bit less adorable when they’re nibbling your flower beds down to the ground or munching on your home-grown veggies. And considering they can produce anywhere from three to six litters each year, you can quickly wind up with a whole colony of rabbits tucking into your carrot patch.
The best solution? Place a fence around your garden, say experts. But that can be costly, time-consuming and labor-intensive to install. And if you live in a condo unit, it may be against the rules.
Luckily, there is a treasure trove of effective methods for keeping rabbits out of your garden without a fence that gardeners have been using for decades, from scaring them off to repelling them with scents they don’t like, says gardener Ryan Farley, owner of LawnStarter.com. Here’s what you need to know.
How to keep rabbits out using plants
Just like you would avoid a buffet of gross foods, rabbits will give your yard a bad Yelp review and find better options if you select plants they find unappealing.
“Consider placing daffodils, marigolds or lavender around the perimeter of your garden — rabbits dislike both their taste and scent, and will stay far away,” assures Jeniffer Smith, owner of UrbanHomeCorner.com.
They also dislike onions and garlic, which you can plant to keep rabbits out of your garden without a fence. Or try sprinkling some onion and garlic powder around plants you want to protect. Just replenish after a heavy rain.
What are best DIY spray repellents to scare rabbits off?
If you prefer a spray-it-and-forget-it method to keep rabbits out of your garden, these two kitchen staples can help!
A DIY citrus juice spray
Grab some lemon juice or orange juice from your fridge. Mix equal parts citrus juice and water in a spray bottle, then give your plants a spritz — not only do rabbits find the scent unpleasant, but it will also keep slugs, aphids, ants and whiteflies away.
A DIY hot pepper spray
“Rabbits also don’t like the capsaicin found in hot peppers, so a spicy spray applied to your plants can work wonders,” says Farley.
To do: combine 4 cups water and 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper in a pot, boil until combined, let cool then add the brew to a spray bottle and apply to your plants about once a week or after each rainstorm to keep rabbits from hopping into your garden.
How to keep rabbits from a garden without a fence, naturally
In addition to employing sprays and plants they dislike, consider the following simple strategies to keep rabbits out of your garden without a fence:
Scatter hair clippings around your plants
Rabbits won’t mess with your garden if they think you’re lurking around. That’s where your hair comes in: Next time you get a haircut, ask the stylist to put some of the trimmings in a baggie for you or simply grab a few strands from your hairbrush.
Then leave the hair around your garden’s edge. Rabbits will smell your tresses, think you’re nearby and book it. The same strategy works if you have a pup or cat who sheds.
Sneak in some ‘snakes’
Don’t worry, you don’t need to live with a King Cobra to keep rabbits away. Just head to the dollar store and buy the rubber variety from the toy section. Rabbits recognize snakes as natural predators and won’t stick around long enough to figure out the ones you put around your garden aren’t real.
Hang a windchime from a tree
Rabbits don’t have those giant ears for nothing: their sense of hearing is acute and they’re constantly listening for even the whisper of a predator approaching. That’s why a windchime is so effective — the sound of the chimes will send rabbits running out of your garden. If you don’t want to buy chimes, it’s easy to make your own by stringing a few empty tin cans together, then hanging it near your garden.
Spread blood meal on soil
This dried powder may not sound appealing, but it’s actually a great addition to any garden. Not only does spreading it around soil provide the soil with nitrogen which boosts plant growth, but “the scent will signal that predators might be nearby and will cause rabbits to head in the other direction,” says Bertie Cowan, founder of Effortless Outdoors, adding that you should reapply after a heavy rainfall.
Introduce Irish Spring soap
Long known for keeping deer away from your flowering shrubs and bushes thanks to its perfumy scent, Irish Spring soap is also a great at keeping rabbits out of your garden without a fence, promises Vicky Popat, gardening expert and cofounder of PlantOGram.com. “Place shavings of the soap around your garden and its signature aroma will also go to work keeping rabbits away.”
Sprinkle on baby powder
It isn’t just for diaper rash! Rabbits dislike baby powder for two reasons: they don’t care for the scent, and the powder itself can irritate their nasal passages if they get close enough to inhale it, reveal pest control specialist Nicholas Martin, owner of PestControlHacks.com. “Just sprinkle some right over your plants in your garden and it will send those sniffers packing.”
Dust your garden with dried sulfur
Sulfur, typically used in gardens as a natural fungicide and to lower the pH of your soil, has a distinctive rotten-egg odor. You may agree with the rabbits here that the smell is not exactly the sign of a good meal.
Luckily, a little sulfur goes a long way and can be placed at the edge of your garden to ward the bunnies off. Ones to try: Bonide Sulfur Plant Fungicide (Buy from Amazon, $11.99) or Earth Science Fast Acting Sulfur (Buy from Home Depot, $12.73).
Place tin cans on plants
Unlike deer, which seem to eat anything and everything in your garden, rabbits prefer newer, softer plants. That’s why they tend to target new growth and saplings and have a habit of leveling your garden before it’s even had a chance to get started.
That’s where tin cans can help: Simply use a can opener to remove the entire top and bottom of the can, then place the tube around new seedlings as they emerge from the soil. The opening will allow water and sunlight into the growing plant, but the can is just tall and narrow enough to keep hungry bunnies at bay.
Place reflectors around the garden
Rabbits don’t just use their ears to detect predators, their eyesight is also incredibly attuned to sudden movement. That’s why one age-old rabbit-proofing strategy that doesn’t require a fence is placing mason jars filled with water around the garden — the water reflects the sun, which can scare the bunnies off, and they can also get frightened by spotting their own reflection in the glass. You can create a similar effect by cutting foil into strips and hanging them from branches near where you’ve spot rabbits grazing.
What is the cheapest way to keep rabbits out of a garden without a fence?
Don’t invite them in in the first place! Rabbits won’t stray too far from their dens, which they prefer to return to quickly if they spot a predator. Simply rake away any piles of brush or old leaves and fill in any holes you find near sheds or greenhouses. Simply put, if rabbits can’t set up shop nearby, they won’t be stopping by for any snacks in your garden.
Lindsay Bosslett is currently associate vice president and managing editor for Health Monitor Network, a patient-education print and digital publishing company. In her role there, she oversees a staff of editors and freelance writers, as well as the production of guides and magazines designed to help both patients and healthcare providers in the ever-changing point-of-care space. As a regular writer for both Woman’s World’s Organized column and First for Women’s Life Smarts page, she delivers practical, creative tips to help women make their lives easier. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys reading, hiking, gardening and attending taco festivals. She lives with her husband, two dogs and lots of bears in a little house on a hill in West Milford, N.J.
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