Do you have a problem with rabbits coming into your yard? They can be a real pest because they feed on your plants and dig up your garden. The question is, what can you do about it?
This article will explore why the rabbits are coming into your yard in the first place and some of the simple methods you can use to keep them out. Read on to learn more about how to manage your rabbit problem.
Table of Contents
- Why Are Rabbits Coming to my Yard?
- What are Rabbits Attracted to?
- How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Yard?
- Related Questions
- Final Thoughts
Why Are Rabbits Coming to my Yard?
There are a few different reasons why rabbits keep coming into your yard and it often depends on the time of year.
In the summer, when the weather is warm, food is scarcer in the wild. This means that all of the rabbits will look further afield for food sources. Gardens, where there are lots of plants or even vegetable patches, are the perfect place for them to feed, so you may notice more invaders during the summer months.
They may also be looking for somewhere to stay cool when the temperatures are high, and some may even be displaced from their natural habitat by wildfires if they are common in your region.
During the winter, the rabbits will be hibernating so you won’t see them. In the fall, they are preparing for hibernation, so they don’t venture as far out.
The rabbit mating season begins in the middle of February and as you probably know, rabbits have a lot of babies. So, between February and August the population of rabbits will spike and this also crosses over with the summer season, so you’ll see a higher concentration of rabbits in your yard.
If rabbits are under threat from a predator, their natural instinct is to run and hide. Out in the wild, they are more vulnerable but in your garden, they are safe. There are more spots to hide and they have protection from fences that larger predators may not be able to get through. Rabbits often leave their young while they go and search for food, and your garden is a great safe spot for this.
Ease of access
Rabbits like gardens for a few reasons, as discussed above. The question is, why your garden? In most cases, it’s ease of access. If your garden is open or there are big gaps in the fences, rabbits can easily wander in. Adding some more protection can make a big difference.
What are Rabbits Attracted to?
There are a few things that attract rabbits to your yard and signal to them that it’s a great place to hide and feed.
Vegetables and plants
Rabbits are mainly looking for food and a vegetable patch looks like an all-you-can-eat buffet to them. Although they will eat other types of plants, vegetables are particularly attractive to them, especially ones that grow above the ground. They are not too fond of things like potatoes or tomatoes, but they love carrots and lettuce.
Rabbits also like eating the buds off woody plants when they are just starting to grow through. They are less interested in bark and tough plants, so they tend to munch on your plants more in the spring.
Be aware of the vegetables and plants that you have in your yard and use some netting to cover over anything that rabbits are likely to feast on. There are also plants that actively discourage rabbits (more on this later).
Rabbits like a drink after they’ve eaten all of your plants, so any water sources in your yard will attract them. Things like ponds are difficult to drink from, so they aren’t too much of a problem. However, you should be careful of any areas where water pools when it rains. Increasing drainage makes the area less enticing to rabbits.
If rabbits are entering your garden looking for a safe haven, they will be on the search for hiding places. Spots underneath the shed, for example, are perfect for them. Rabbits may like to hide behind thick bushes too. Cover up any gaps like this as best you can to stop rabbits from hiding in your yard.
How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Yard?
If you are experiencing big problems with rabbits in your yard, these are some of the best ways to keep them out.
1. Build a No-Entry Fence
A fence is the best way to stop rabbits from getting into the yard. A mesh fence is the best option because it creates a barrier that rabbits cannot easily get through. If you are using wood, make sure that you build a robust fence with no gaps. Remember, rabbits can easily slip through small cracks, so be thorough.
Rabbits can easily burrow under fences and you need to bear this in mind when building yours. You can use a chicken wire barrier dug into a trench underneath the fence. That way, even if the rabbits dig down and try to get under, they won’t be able to make it through.
2. Install Motion Activated Sprinklers
If rabbits do somehow make it past your fence, which is a possibility, sprinklers can send them on their way. You can get some great motion activated sprinklers that will go off when they detect an intruder in the garden. Once they are sprayed with the water, the rabbits will be startled and run off. They’ll also be reluctant to come back into your garden.
The sprinklers have advanced capabilities to tell the difference between trees and animals, so you don’t need to worry about them going off every time there is a slight breeze.
Even though rabbits can be a problem in the garden, you still want to deal with them humanely, and motion activated sprinklers are an excellent way to do this. As an added bonus, they’re also good for deterring burglars.
3. Spray a Rabbit Repellent
Rabbit repellent, often called rabbit mace, is a spray that is made up of ingredients that rabbits don’t like, including garlic and egg extracts. When they smell this, it puts them off and they will avoid the area. This Nature’s Mace 1400 square feet of your yard and protects against rabbits. It lasts up to 60 days before you need to reapply.
It’s a completely biofriendly formula so it will not damage any of your plants, meaning that you can spray it all over. This is an excellent way to stop the rabbits from eating your plants.
4. Keep Your Lawn Clean and Mowed
Rabbits love a long lawn. It gives them plenty of places to hide from predators, get some shade from the sun, and find food. So, if your lawn is overgrown and filled with weeds, you’re more likely to have a problem with rabbits.
Mowing your lawn regularly to keep it short, and removing any weeds and moss, will make it much less hospitable for rabbits.
5. Remove Any Potential Food Sources
If your yard is filled with food sources for rabbits, they will flock there. Removing these food sources is a good way to deter them. If you are growing vegetables in your yard, you may not want to get rid of them altogether but you should use netting to stop rabbits from getting at them. Think about planting things like potatoes and corn or tomatoes, which rabbits are less fond of too.
Compost heaps can also be a source of food for rabbits. They will go through and eat all of the food scraps, so having an open compost heap is a bad idea. Use an enclosed compost bin instead.
6. Cayenne Red Pepper
Cayenne red pepper is a great natural way to deter rabbits. The smell and the spicy taste is very harsh to them and they’ll avoid it at all costs. If you put it on the plants and they taste them, they won’t be coming back anytime soon.
You can pick up some cayenne pepper at the grocery store for next to nothing. Simply mix some with water in a spray bottle and apply it to your plants and the perimeter of the garden to keep rabbits away.
Cayenne pepper is a great deterrent but it doesn’t last as long as rabbit mace, so you will need to spray it more often. If you make it part of your normal yard maintenance routine, it should work fine.
7. Grow Plants that Rabbits Avoid
Although rabbits come into your garden to eat plants, there are some that they will actively avoid. Garlic and onions are a great one because rabbits don’t like the strong smell. You’ll actually find garlic in most rabbit mace. Other plants that they don’t like include:
These plants can be used to form protective barriers around the edge of the garden. You can also plant them around other things that rabbits love to eat, especially your vegetables. Keep this in mind when you are planning your yard.
8. Irish Spring Soap
Irish Spring Soap is a brand of deodorant soap that has become a popular home remedy for keeping pests away. They are put off by the strong smell, so if you spread it around your garden, it will stop rabbits. It’s a great cheap option that is easy to use.
Get a few locks of Irish Spring Soap and chop it up into small cubes of around half an inch. Get some small drawstring bags and put a few chunks in each. You can then attach them to a small wooden stake with a staple gun and plant these in the ground in your yard. When choosing where to put them, consider entry points into the yard as well as which plants that rabbits are most likely to eat.
9. Use Vinegar
Vinegar is another excellent cheap option for keeping rabbits away. You can use it in a spray bottle or simply pour patches around the garden. However, it’s important that you use it carefully because it will kill grass and plants. Vinegar can be used around the perimeter of the yard and in any areas where plants are not growing, but keep it well away from any greenery or you risk ruining your yard.
10. Sprinkle Coffee Grinds Around Yard
Coffee grounds are often used to keep slugs at bay, but did you know that they can get rid of rabbits too? Again, it’s the smell that they don’t like, so sprinkle around entry points and plants that you want to protect.
Those grounds would otherwise go straight in the bin, so it’s an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and protect your yard at the same time. The other great thing about using coffee grounds is that they contain nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus that feed the soil and improve plant growth.
However, using coffee grounds too much can upset the balance of the soil and damage plants. So, try to avoid using too much and don’t put them around plants that are particularly sensitive.
Do Dogs Scare Rabbits Away?
Rabbits are always trying to avoid predators, so if they smell a dog around the yard, this can deter them. If they encounter a dog that chases them away, they are unlikely to return. However, a dog in the yard is not guaranteed to solve the problem in the long-term. If rabbits get used to the scent of a predator but they know that there is no immediate danger, they will continue coming into the yard anyway.
Your dog may chase them away but they may also ignore them or play around without actually chasing them off. In this instance, the rabbits might keep coming into your yard and you should try some of the other methods listed above.
Do Rabbits Attract Rodents?
Yes, rodents are attracted to the smell of rabbit droppings. So, you will often notice a problem with rats and rabbits at the same time. That’s why it’s even more important to tackle your rabbit problem right away, even if they are not causing you too many problems.
Can You Use Mothballs to Keep Rabbits Away?
No, mothballs are one of the worst things you can use to keep your yard free from rabbits. They are not particularly effective in the first place and they are very toxic when you use them outdoors. They contain high levels of pesticides called paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene, which is why they are supposed to be used in containers indoors.
If they are used outdoors, these harsh chemicals can leak out, especially when they get wet. They will damage the plants in your yard, tarnish the soil, harm the wildlife, and even contaminate the water supply.
Can I Hunt Rabbits on My Property?
Yes, you are permitted to hunt rabbits as long as they are on your own property and they are wild rabbits.
Can I Trap Rabbits on my Property?
Yes, the law is the same for trapping and hunting rabbits. If you are looking for a more humane way to deal with the rabbits, get some non-lethal traps and you can then release them back into the wild far away from your home.
Who Can You Call to Get Rid of Rabbits?
If your rabbit problem is persistent and none of the deterrents are working, you may need to call in some professional help. Call a pest control company and discuss the problem with them. They will be able to offer more advanced solutions that will hopefully deal with your rabbit problem for good.
Rabbits might look cute, but they can cause serious problems in your yard if you are not careful. They’ll eat all of your plants and even attract rats, so you need to get rid of them right away. Try some of the methods listed in this article but if that doesn’t work, you should consider calling pest control before the problem gets out of hand.
Read our related articles:
- 7 Effective Ways to Keep Skunks Away from Your Yard
- 5 Easy Ways to Deter Hawks from Your Backyard Birds
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.