How to deter rabbits from eating vegetable plants

Updated February 21, 2017

When you prepare for planting, and go to pains to provide the appropriate location, soil and care for a vegetable or flower garden, a rabbit's presence can really bring you down. These traditional garden pests eat leaves, stems and tender vegetables, and quickly decimate both plants and vegetable harvests. While many retailers sell rabbit repellent sprays, savvy gardeners turn to natural, non-chemical answers. According to Gardens Ablaze, some plants and flowers do more to drive away rabbits than any chemical.

Dig a combination of half quick-draining soil and half compost into the borders of your vegetable garden for companion planting. One of the most efficient ways to keep rabbits out of your garden is a with a strong border planting. Mix the amendment into the top 4 inches of the soil to support any companion plants.

Plant marigold seedlings in the early spring, in areas of the border that get full sun to partial shade. These flowers have a strong scent that drives away any inquisitive rabbits. Plant seedlings deeply enough to cover their root balls, and give each plant 8 to 10 inches of space. Marigolds spread quickly and will grow together to form a strong border. Water marigolds with 1 to 2 inches of water a week. As annuals, marigolds only survive until fall, and die off with frost.

Plant onion seeds or bulbs in areas of the border that get full sunshine, in early spring. Onions are hardy vegetables, and will grow through the summer into fall and winter to repel rabbits with their strong smell while providing an additional vegetable harvest. Plant onion seeds or bulbs 1/2 to 1 inch deep, with 3 inches of space per plant. Replant onions after their harvest in midsummer.

Plant garlic cloves in areas of the border that get full sunshine, in early spring. Garlic grows year round in most areas, and will continue the rabbit protection through the winter. Plant cloves upright, 1 inch deep, with 4 inches of spacing. Replant garlic in midsummer for a fall harvest, and again in fall for a winter garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Quick-draining soil
  • Compost
  • Marigold seedlings
  • Garlic cloves
  • Onion seeds
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