How to Get Rabbits Out of Your Yard

white rabbit on grass

Bunnies are a fan favorite, but they aren’t as endearing when they eat your vegetable garden. It’s not just produce at risk — your flower bed and lawn also could fall victim to these adorable creatures. No leafy greens are safe when a horde of bunnies has made your yard its home.

When these critters don’t seem so cute anymore, we can help. This guide will teach you how to get rabbits out of your yard and prevent them from returning. Don’t want to hurt the bunnies? We’ll focus on humane strategies so you can have your carrot cake and eat it, too.

9 ways to keep rabbits out of your yard

These nine strategies can be used individually or in combination — depending on your preferences and how your local rabbit population responds. Let’s hop to it!

1. Install fencing

rabbits locked in a wire fence
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Fences are the most straightforward way to stop any invader in their tracks. You can put up fencing around your whole yard or just around the problem areas, such as gardens. You can even surround individual plants with chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect them. Add wire mesh to existing fences to seal gaps and reinforce the area. 

Chicken wire is the most common material for rabbit-proof fencing, but you can use other materials as well. Some companies sell wire or netting specifically for rabbit-proofing. Ensure the gaps are no bigger than 1 inch, as rabbits can squeeze through tiny spaces. Use heavy-duty mesh so the rabbit can’t chew through it.

Though rabbits are small, don’t underestimate their jumping abilities. Most can only jump 2 feet high, but some claim rabbits jump as high as 4 feet. Therefore, your fence should be at least 2 to 4 feet tall. Higher is safer in case of snow or debris buildup.

You may think, “Won’t they just dig under?” but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some techniques to prevent digging under a fence:

  • Extend the fence underground: Dig a trench at least 6 inches deep, insert the fencing, and cover it with dirt again. The deeper you go, the higher your chance of success. Some companies sell anti-digging barriers that you press into the ground without digging, but the gaps may not be small enough to stop rabbits effectively.
  • Use an L-shape fence: Create an L shape at the base of the fence with chicken wire to block the digging path. Cover the wire with dirt or gravel to disguise it. Some people also recommend adding a slant to the top of the fence to make it more difficult to jump over. Both of these extensions work best when they face outward from the protected area.
  • Create a barrier with rocks, gravel, bricks, pavers, or concrete: These substances are difficult or impossible for rabbits to dig through. Use them around both sides of the fence to prevent digging on the outside and emerging on the inside. Like fencing, this will be more effective the deeper your barrier layer goes. 

Barriers and underground fences deter several digging animals, from rabbits to gophers to dogs. 

You can either DIY your own garden fence or hire a local fencing company.

2. Get rid of their shelter

Rabbits often dig holes to live in, but you may unknowingly provide them with other shelters. For example, the space under your porch is the perfect home for bunnies, raccoons, and several other critters. Install wire mesh around any open spaces. Don’t forget to dig-proof your barrier, just like with perimeter fencing. 

Another shelter for wild rabbits is a brush pile. Brush piles are mounds of wood, debris, rocks, or other materials with an entrance and space inside that provide shelter and protection from predators. Whether you built a brush pile on purpose, by accident, or the previous property owner left it, it’s best to dismantle it to discourage wildlife. 

If the rabbits still live in the shelter, don’t seal them in or destroy their home with them inside. Use other methods in this article to deter them, then seal everything when you’re sure they’re gone. Here are some ways to see if rabbits currently live there:

  • Use motion-activated cameras. Rather than staking out the rabbit’s shelter in person, let a camera do the work for you. Place it somewhere with a good view of the suspect area. Use an outdoor-friendly, night-vision camera so darkness and bad weather don’t obscure your shot. Some cameras have apps so you can check pictures on your phone.
  • Place something in front of the entrance. Gently push something lightweight into the suspected rabbit hole. Choose something a rabbit could easily move, such as paper, twigs, or yarn. You can check frequently to see if anything has gone in or out, but wait at least 24 hours to ensure the hole is unoccupied. 
  • Look for signs of rabbit activity. Signs include droppings and fur. See more in the “Signs of a rabbit infestation” section below.

If you’re confident that rabbit burrows are empty, you can fill them in with gravel.

3. Remove tall grass and shrubs

man cutting shrubs in a garden
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Rabbits love to hide themselves and their dens beneath tall grass and shrubs so they’re not exposed. If you cut back these plants, they won’t be as comfortable digging or hanging out there. It also will be easier to spot their dens. 

Keep up with regular lawn mowing and cut your grass within its recommended range. Trim overgrown bushes, fence them off, or remove them entirely. 

4. Plant unappealing vegetation

If rabbits love your garden, your garden may need to adapt. There are several plants bunnies don’t like, often due to their pungent smell or unpleasant side effects. Here are some examples:

  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Geraniums
  • Onions
  • Rhubarb

Position unappealing plants around the appealing ones to create a defense perimeter. If you use any of these plants in the kitchen, you could sprinkle the scraps around your garden as a temporary deterrent until they decompose. 

However, none of these plant deterrents are a guarantee. Bunnies have been known to snack on practically every type of plant, including ones that are reportedly poisonous to rabbits. Exclusion tactics like fencing will likely have a higher success rate, but there’s no harm in visiting garden centers and trying these plants out. 

5. Apply DIY rabbit repellents

rabbit in grass

If you’d rather not alter the contents of your garden, there are other home remedies you can try. Here are some deterrents home gardeners swear by:

  • Cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • Dried sulfur
  • Vinegar
  • Linseed oil (often mixed with a bit of detergent and water)
  • Irish Spring soap (Why this brand? It’s a mystery.)
  • Human or dog hair (which doubles as fertilizer)

Sprinkle these repellents around your garden or the perimeter of your yard. You may need to rotate between different ones if they stop working. Reapply them after it rains. Just like with the unappealing plants, your mileage may vary. 

Note: These substances are safe for plants for the most part, but excessive application could affect your plants negatively. You also should exercise caution if you have children or pets, as the deterrents may be unpleasant or dangerous for them.

6. Use commercial rabbit repellents

Some homeowners much prefer tried-and-true products over home remedies. After all, they’re designed with rabbits in mind and may combine multiple deterrents into one. They come in two forms:

  • Granular: You sprinkle the product on lawns, groundcovers, and flower beds. You also can spread them along the perimeter or near known rabbit holes. Products include Liquid Fence and Rabbit Scram.
  • Liquid: You typically spray liquid deterrents directly onto plants. Most have a spray bottle lid, but you also can buy concentrate to mix with water and use with tank sprayers or hoses. Products include Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent, Plantsyydd Animal Repellent, and Ortho Deer B Gone Deer and Rabbit Repellent.

When you use any commercial product, read the label carefully and only apply as directed. Reapply after it rains — despite what the product says, the downpour will likely wash it away or reduce effectiveness. If you plan to apply it to produce, ensure it is safe and won’t affect the taste of your crops.

What about predator urine? While it can be effective, it’s unlikely to be ethically sourced. You may replicate the effect with dog urine or household ammonia. Since ammonia can harm plants, it’s best to soak some rags and place them near the area instead.

7. Install repellent devices

If smell and taste don’t drive rabbits away, maybe their other senses will. Here are the two most popular options:

  • Sound-based deterrents: Ultrasonic animal repellers release an unpleasant sound at a pitch animals can hear, but humans can’t. Many models also have flashing lights as an added deterrent. The downside is it affects other animals, too. You won’t make many dog friends with this device in your yard.
  • Motion-activated sprinklers: Animals don’t like an unexpected hose down any more than humans do. A motion-activated sprinkler will shoot jets of water toward nearby animals (including rabbits) to startle them. Remember that it will spray moving creatures indiscriminately, so you may get doused yourself if you’re not careful. 

8. Place scary decoys

Crows aren’t the only animals you can spook with a decoy. You can use a variety of realistic decoys to scare rabbits, such as:

  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Falcons
  • Coyotes

For maximum efficacy, place the decoy within view of your garden, the rabbit dens, or any of your yard’s entrance points. You can hang some bird models so they swing in the wind and look more lifelike. Move them around occasionally so the rabbits don’t get too used to them.

However, homeowners have mixed results. Some swear it works, while others feel they wasted their money on a lawn ornament. Because of this, we recommend trying some other rabbit deterrent methods first — unless you’re okay with it doubling as a decoration.

9. Set traps

rabbit trap with a rabbit in it
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If nothing else scares the rabbits away, you may have to set traps. Before you get started, check your local laws to ensure rabbit trapping is allowed and brush up on the rules and guidelines. 

We strongly encourage live trapping, as it’s more humane. Live traps consist of a cage with a door that triggers when the animal steps far enough in. Here are the steps to catch a rabbit with a trap:

  • Set up the trap wherever you get a lot of rabbit activity. It would be best if you placed it somewhere in the shade so the rabbit doesn’t overheat when trapped. Use gloves when setting it up to protect your fingers and avoid leaving your scent.
  • Attract the rabbits with bait. Leave some tasty food all the way in the back, like lettuce or apple slices. This bait will work best if there isn’t other food nearby — after all, why would they go into the trap if your tasty garden is right there? Block off your garden and clean up any fallen fruit or leaves.
  • Check the trap frequently. It’s essential to strike a balance between checking too often or too little. If you check once an hour, the rabbits will likely stay far away. However, you don’t want to leave any trapped rabbits for over a day. Watch from the window or use cameras to check it discreetly. 
  • Quickly act when you catch a rabbit. Once caught, the rabbit will no longer have access to food or water and will likely become distressed. Take the whole trap with you and release it at least 5 miles away if laws permit. You may need permission from the landowner to release rabbits in a given area.

Trapping may seem like a foolproof solution, but it can be time-consuming and challenging. You will need to check the traps frequently and possibly catch multiple rabbits. One or two may not be too difficult, but you may feel stuck in an endless loop if you have a large rabbit population. Trapping also will not prevent new rabbits from appearing in the future.

The best way to use trapping is as a last resort and combined with other exclusion methods. 

Signs of a rabbit infestation

While some homeowners see the rabbits making mischief in their yard, others may need to guess the pest. If you want to confirm that your troublesome visitors are rabbits, here are some telltale signs:

  • Poop or droppings about the size of peas
  • Freshly dug holes
  • Clumps of fur (especially near or in holes)
  • Clean-cut bites on low-down plants

How rabbits can damage your home and garden

If you’re reading this, you probably already know rabbits cause problems. But if you’re unsure of the specifics, here are some reasons these fuzzy visitors might not be so cute:

  • They dig up gardens, flower beds, and lawns
  • The holes can be hazardous if they collapse or you step in them
  • Rabbits can cause allergies or spread zoonotic diseases and bacteria

FAQs about how to get rid of rabbits in your yard

How quickly do rabbits reproduce?

The most common species in the U.S., cottontail rabbits, are only pregnant for about 28 days before birthing three to eight babies. They can get pregnant multiple times throughout their breeding season, which stretches from early spring to fall. This means one female rabbit can easily produce a dozen or more offspring in a year.

Because they reproduce so quickly, it’s vital to deal with the problem as soon as possible.

Does rabbit poop make good fertilizer?

Yes, rabbit poop can make an excellent fertilizer. It’s more nutrient-dense than other forms of manure and requires no composting. 

However, this silver lining isn’t enough to offset wild rabbit damage. There also is no guarantee they’ll poop where you want them to. If you want to take advantage of rabbit poop’s benefits, it’s best to source it elsewhere.

What other animals could be eating my plants?

Rabbits aren’t the only animals that could be eating your plants. The other common culprits include deer, voles, slugs, and insects. Here are some differences in the landscape damage mammals and other pests leave:

  • Rabbits: Clean-cut damage on plants low to the ground
  • Deer: Jagged, ripped damage on everything from grass to trees
  • Voles: Damage to lawns, small trees, and shrubs low to the ground, even under snow
  • Slugs and insects: Tiny holes in leaves

Many pests can be excluded in the same way as rabbits. For example, you can protect your plants from deer with fencing and many of the same repellents that work on rabbits. 

When all else fails, call a pro

Even with all these strategies, rabbit control may be too overwhelming to handle alone. A local pest control pro can make rabbits disappear better than a magician. They’ll identify problem areas and create long-term solutions so your yard can stay bunny-free.

If your lawn and garden are in a sorry state after the ravaging rabbits, landscaping professionals can help. A lawncare expert can regrow grass around vacant rabbit holes and restore it to its former glory. A local gardener can speed up recovery for your precious marigolds or any other plants the rabbits damaged. Soon, you can go back to enjoying your yard like it was before.

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Lauren Bryant

Lauren Bryant is a freelance writer currently based in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, she enjoys long walks and baking. She excitedly awaits the day she can grow her own edible garden.