How to keep rabbits out of the garden – 4 cruelty free ways to keep rabbits at bay

World’s biggest rabbit Darius hops around garden in 2012

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Rabbits can cause all kinds of nuisance in the garden. They scratch hollows in flowerbeds and lawns, love tender young shoots and leaves and happily strip the bark from your beloved trees. Rabbits can cause substantial problems for gardeners, with their debris often mistaken for that caused by deer.

How to keep rabbits out of the garden

Plant rabbit resistant plants

Rabbits eat just about all vegetable plants, with the potential exception of potatoes and onions.

That means if you want to grow vegetables, you’ll need to do so behind a barrier or raise them up away for harm.

When it comes to ornamental plants, there are a few that rabbits avoid – such as euphorbias, peonies, hellebores, foxgloves, daffodils and snowdrops.

Aromatics like rosemary and lavender can also be avoided, but there’s always the risk one deviant rabbit will have a taste for such herbs.

Likewise, marigolds and onions are often recommended as growing deterrents, but some rabbits love these too.

A list of rabbit resistant plants can be found on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.

Use a physical barrier

If the rabbits live outside your garden, you could try surrounding the plot with specialised rabbit fencing.

This fencing must be made out of wire mesh as rabbits will chew through the plastic kind.

The wire mesh needs to be at least 75cm high, with another 15cm buried underground to prevent them from burrowing in order to gain access.

In bigger gardens, vulnerable areas and new plants can be protected with similar barriers – even around individual plants.

In this case the wire doesn’t need to be dug in, but it does need to be anchored to the ground if you’re to prevent access.

Protect young trees

Rabbits with sharp teeth love to strip the bark from the base of young trees, causing irreparable damage.

You need to protect the young sapling with tree guards.

The most popular ones are the flexible spiral plastic guards which wrap around the base of the trees.

However, if haps are left between the spirals at the base of a tree be warned – a determined rabbit will chew off the bark where it’s left exposed.

If necessary, use two guards, one on top of the other or push the spirals close together.

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Use deterrents

There are various sprays and natural remedies often recommended for rabbit deterrence.

Your chances of success with things like human hair or mothballs are really slim to none.

Rabbits will likely be put off munching on your plants if you apply a granular repellent, clip-on garlic odour repellents or even fish emulsion.

But be warned, if they’ve already grown fond of the crop or there’s nothing else tasty to chew on nearby, repellents may not be effective.

However, repellent sprays can be used to break a feeding cycle and give young plans enough growing times ahead of rabbit disturbance.

Remember that most repellents need to be reapplied every few days, and especially after heavy rain.

Another option to try is providing food for the rabbits in order to disinterest them from your prized crops and plants.

One rabbit favourite you can easily provide is clover, and over-seeding your lawn with this plant will provide them a ready source of food while feeding your own lawn.

Clover seeds are readily available next to the grass seeds and won’t make a negative addition to your garden.

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