If you are here, you are probably wondering how to keep rabbits off your lawn. Keep reading because, in this article, we will be sharing everything you should know about getting rid of rabbits naturally.
We understand the pain of patiently growing a garden only to see rabbits reaping the rewards on multiple occasions. A single rabbit on your lawn may seem harmless at first. But truth be told, these fluffy balls of cuteness can cause mass destruction to your garden overnight.
It would be an understatement to say that rabbits have big appetites and a taste with no discern. They do not care about differentiating between berries, roots, and grass. For as long as it is within their sight, they will go ahead and nibble. And worst of all, they reproduce at the speed of light!
So, without further ado, let’s get down to business.
What's In This Article
- Signs That You Have Rabbits On Your Lawn
- Why Should You Keep Rabbits Off the Lawn?
- How To Keep Rabbits Off Your Lawn: 7 Proven Methods
- Frequently Asked Questions
Signs That You Have Rabbits On Your Lawn
The presence of rabbits on your lawn may not be immediately apparent since they can be quite stealthy. Usually, much of the damage is already done by the time you notice a sign. So, you should always be on the lookout.
Pea-sized droppings are among the most obvious signs of the presence of rabbits. You would find them scattered around the densely vegetated areas of your garden.
If you find droppings in your garden, the next step is to check for rabbit nests under tall grasses and shrubs. Various rabbit species, such as the cottontail, tend to nest in areas covered with woody plant debris or dried grass. Furthermore, female rabbits tend to line the entrance holes with rabbit fur.
Take a quiet look at your garden during dusk and dawn. If you spot a single rabbit in your yard, chances are that there are more.
Rabbits tend to eat young seedlings down to the stem. So, for example, this would cause emerging tulips to have a cut-out appearance. Similarly, rabbits often chew the bark of younger trees during the winter due to a lack of other food sources. Such marks on plants are a tell-tale sign of rabbit presence.
Why Should You Keep Rabbits Off the Lawn?
The common cottontail rabbits may seem cute and cuddly as they nibble on grass and dandelions on your lawn. However, they are a natural disaster for your garden. Since rabbits do not have a strict preference for certain types of plants, they will chew on anything they find. From grass to young seedlings, vegetables, and roots, nothing is safe from their voracious appetite.
Rest assured, rabbits are not a direct danger to humans. The only reason why you would want to keep rabbits off the lawn is to protect your well-planned garden. But we would not suggest resorting to inhumane methods of getting rid of rabbits. Even though they can be a nuisance, you must maintain a higher ethical ground and conform to any local laws regarding rabbits’ removal.
In our experience, exclusion has worked the best. Rabbits naturally tend to be prey to several other stray animals, such as dogs, cats, and eagles. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to exclude them and let mother nature do its work.
We have dedicated the next section to the most humane yet proven methods to get rid of rabbits. So let’s take a look.
How To Keep Rabbits Off Your Lawn: 7 Proven Methods
1. Grow Rabbit-Resistant Plants
Despite having a less discerning taste, rabbits are generally likely to keep their distance from certain plants. For example, they avoid plants with strong scents, leathery leaves, prickles, and spines. Perhaps it is an evolutionary response to toxic and dangerous-looking plants.
Some common plants that rabbits avoid eating include:
- Bee Balm
Certain tree species that rabbits keep their distance from include:
- Japanese maple
- Douglas fir
- Fir Redbud
Rabbit-resistant ground cover has proven to be the most effective. After all, rabbits are not great climbers and spend most of their time on the ground. The aroma and flavor of the following groundcovers repel rabbits very well:
- English ivy
- Virginia creeper
While rabbits are generally not very fond of the species mentioned above, these plants alone will not stop some particularly stubborn rabbits. Therefore, we suggest using this method together with some others mentioned below.
2. Mow Your Lawn Regularly
Since rabbits are natural prey to animals such as stray dogs and eagles, they prefer to stay out of sight by taking advantage of their surroundings. Tall grasses and shrubs in your garden can help conceal them from predators, making your garden an ideal hideout.
You can make your garden less appealing to rabbits by regularly mowing your lawn and trimming overgrown bushes and shrubs. Use a string trimmer to tidy up any tall grass in your yard, and mow your lawn at least once or twice a week during the warmer months. While mowing and trimming may not completely get rid of rabbits, it will certainly make your garden a less-than-ideal place for them to thrive.
3. Install a Motion-Detecting Sprinkler
Another simple method is to install a water sprinkler around areas that would be tempting to rabbits, such as raised garden beds. A motion-detecting sprinkler would automatically spray water in the direction where it senses movement. Since wild rabbits are generally small and skittish, a few splashes of water would be enough to scare them off. But in our experience, this method is best used in combination with other methods such as fencing and repellents.
4. Use Humane Traps to Relocate Rabbits
Using live traps is an effective way of controlling rabbit activity in your yard. Live rabbit traps typically come in two variations: double-door and single-door. Single-door traps are traditionally used by most professional trappers and allow you to lure the rabbit further down the cage.
However, double-door traps have a higher catch rate, and some models also can be set as single-trap doors. Regardless of the type, placing the trap in a concealed area with high rabbit activity is crucial. To mark the active areas, you may want to silently observe their activity during dusk and dawn.
Generally, rabbits are more active around bushes, woodpiles, fence lines, hedges, shrubs, and tall grasses. These are the spots where you should be placing the traps since rabbits rarely venture out into open places due to threats from predators.
Once caught, release the rabbit at some distance from your garden in an area with significant cover. However, ensure you have checked your local laws regarding catching, handling, and releasing live rabbits beforehand.
5. Add Barriers to Keep Rabbits Off the Lawn
Another method to get rid of rabbits is to prevent them from making their way into your yard by installing a sturdy meshing fence. However, when setting it up, you must ensure that there are no gaps through which a rabbit can squeeze.
Garden fencing is typically made of galvanized steel wires twisted into a mesh form with hexagonal holes. Alternatively, you can use chicken wire. Choose a height of around 4 – 5 feet and bend the lower 8 inches at an angle of 90 degrees to form an “L” shape before burying it 8 – 12 inches into the ground. This will stop even the most stubborn rabbits from burrowing through the ground.
Note that rabbits can easily chew through plastic and thinner wires. So, the quality and thickness of the steel wires matter a lot. Either way, this is one of the most humane approaches that you can take to keep rabbits out of your yard.
6. Make Use of Rabbit Repellents
You can easily find rabbit repellents in garden centers and online stores. They are available in the form of granular solutions and sprays. Though, we suggest buying a natural spray that is safe for beneficial insects, pets, and plants.
Whether you go with a natural spray or a commercial man-made solution, you should keep it out of the reach of your pets and children. Furthermore, avoid spraying them on any edible crops you grow in your garden. If you have sprayed around any crops, make sure you thoroughly wash them before consumption.
Some household items can also be a natural deterrent to rabbits. For example, you can create your own rabbit-repelling solution by mixing chili powder with mashed garlic, water, and a few drops of detergent. Then spray it around your garden’s perimeter. However, since this is a DIY method, we suggest testing it on a small area first to check for any adverse plant reactions.
7. Let the Dog Out
Since rabbits tend to fear dogs, sometimes the best solution is to simply let your loyal pooch out in the garden. Your dog will chase the rabbits away. Eventually, no rabbit would dare enter a garden guarded by a devoted dog.
Note that some plants can be toxic for domestic animals. Furthermore, depending on the region you live in, outdoor reptiles such as snakes could be a threat to your dog. So, before letting your dog out, ensure that your garden is safe and pet friendly.
In summary, we hope that you now understand how to keep rabbits off your lawn. Of course, bunnies look cute, cuddly, and adorable. But that does not stop them from wreaking havoc on the plants in your garden. Despite the nuisance, we always resort to humane methods of getting rid of rabbits and suggest you do the same.
In fact, some regions consider it illegal to kill rabbits or to relocate them to open areas where they are extremely vulnerable. So, make sure that you are conforming to your local animal laws and are not intentionally causing harm to these uninvited guests.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Smells Help to Keep Rabbits Away?
Rabbits hate the smell of some ground covers such as English Ivy, Pachysandra, and Spurge. Alternatively, things such as ammonia, garlic, blood meal, predator urine, and peppermint naturally repel them. You can also find some natural repelling sprays available commercially. The most effective way to use these repellents is to spray around rabbit burrows and common resting spots.
Do Rabbits Hate Reflective Surfaces?
While it may sound bizarre, it is true that rabbits fear their own reflection. So you can use this to your advantage by placing reflectors, mirrors, or shiny objects around the garden. Sometimes, the commercially available reflectors are shaped like owls, cats, and snakes to scare them off. You may even end up getting a nice art piece for your garden. Alternatively, you can fill a large glass jar with water and place it near their most common resting spots.
How Can I Tell the Difference Between Wild and Feral Rabbits?
Wild rabbits usually have smaller brown bodies and fluffy white tails. Also known as Eastern cottontails, these rabbits nest in grassy areas and shallow depressions instead of burrows. However, not all outdoor rabbits are “wild.” Populations of free-living domestic rabbits are commonly found in urban areas. These are the offspring of abandoned or lost pets and are known as feral rabbits.
Feral rabbits have wider, boxier faces with floppy ears and generally weigh up to 5.5lbs. They have larger bodies and have a bad reputation for destroying gardens and lawns. Either way, both types of rabbits are attracted to landscaped and sheltered yards with dense grasses and shrubs.
Steve is a passionate gardener and particularly loves growing vegetables. His interest was spurred at eight years old while helping his parents take care of their extensive yard, lawns, and vegetable garden. Over the years, his childhood interest grew into a lifelong passion. Read more »