As adorable as these creatures are, rabbits can wreak havoc on a lawn and garden. Garden centers, home improvement stores, and online resources offer commerical products to help gardeners protect their plants from rabbits.
But here’s the problem: commercial repellents are expensive, they require repeated applications, and some of them may contain chemicals that can pose health hazards to pets when ingested.
The solution is to find cheaper options that are equally effective to get rid of rabbits that are ruining your lawn and garden.
Rabbit repellents basically work in two ways to keep rabbits out of your flower and vegetable garden and off the lawn—they produce a smell or taste that is repulsive for rabbits but without harm. Homemade repellents are not only less expensive, but a safe alternative to the commercial repellents.
Irish Spring soap
I was surprised to learn that Irish Spring bar soap is an inexpensive rabbit repellent. Apparently unlike myself who finds the scent of Irish Spring to be pleasant, to rabbits, it has a terrible stench that drives them away.
To turn Irish Spring into an effective repellent, you’ll need these supplies that are readily available in local stores or online:
- Irish Spring bar soap
- small fabric drawstring bags OR cheesecloth and string
- wooden stakes (12-by-1-by-1 inches or similar)
- staple gun or duct tape
Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the Irish Spring soap bar(s) into 1/2-inch cubes. These do not have to be exact, but you’ll want many small chunks to treat your entire garden.
Drop two pieces of soap into each drawstring pouch, pull strings tightly to close, and tie the strings tightly to secure the soap inside. Or wrap two pieces of soap in a piece of cheesecloth, gathering it into a pouch and securing it with string.
Staple or securely tape one pouch to the end of each wooden stake. Drive the opposite end of each stake 6 inches into the ground around your lawn and garden, spacing them from 5- to 10-feet apart. Place stakes closer together in areas with thick vegetation or in spots you’ve noticed often are damaged by rabbits or other animals.
Alternatively, lay the drawstring pouches under and around the vegetation for a more discrete solution.
Monitor the garden or lawn over the course of the next week for signs of damaged or eaten plants. The amount of Irish Spring soap you need to ward off pests depends on the size of your garden, and the population of local deer, rabbits, and other animals. Be prepared to add more stakes to target heavily-trafficked areas.
Irish Spring soap repels mammal pests, such as mice, rabbits, and deer. It does not repel insect pests. And it does not always eliminate pests completely, however, many have reported amazing results. It’s certainly worth a shot.
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Rabbits are dinner for predator animals, so being aware of what and who is around them is necessary to their survival. The scent of ammonia is similar to the smell of urine their predators have used to mark their territory. When rabbits smell the ammonia, they are compelled to move on to another area to avoid whatever animal left its mark behind.
Because of its strong smell that is quite similar to urine, ordinary household ammonia straight out of the bottle makes a great rabbit repellent. You don’t need to figure out complicated formulas or mix a bunch of different ingredients together to keep rabbits away.
Household ammonia, located in the cleaning or laundry section of stores or online, will do the trick when used at full strength to repel rabbits. That makes it a good choice for gardeners who want a simple, natural solution for their rabbit problem.
Soak strips of old rags in undiluted ammonia, and place them on the trails the rabbits are using to get into your garden. The rags will hold the scent and make life unpleasant for the rabbits.
If you have outdoor pets, you may want to consider options other than ammonia, as some professionals suggest it may be harmful if ingested by curious pets with a weak sense of smell.
Garlic hot pepper repellant
Homemade rabbit repellent is a cheap way to keep critters out of your garden, requiring a bit more effort on your part than commercial products. The ingredients are easy to find and generally inexpensive.
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes OR chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- empty gallon-size container with lid
Peel garlic cloves, smash them and drop into a gallon jug. Add dish soap and crushed red pepper flakes or powder. Fill the jug with water and apply lid. Shake the container to mix ingredients.
Place the jug in the sun for two days to steep, ensuring that the water becomes entirely concentrated with the ingredients. Strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter. Dispense using a spray bottle or garden sprayer and apply to plants and areas targeted by rabbits. Reapply every five days.
It will take several weeks to begin seeing results. In case of heavy rain, reapply as soon as the weather clears to ensure that your repellant efforts remain effective.
Blood meal, bone meal
Placing blood meal or bone meal (find both in garden centers or online) around plants and along paths has shown some efficacy in controlling rascally rabbits. They find the smell of these products to be repulsive.
As a bonus, both are excellent fertilizers so your garden will at the same time benefit from this “repellant.”
Red pepper powder
Spray access areas to your yard and garden with WD-40. The spray will serve as a deterrent as long as residue from the spray remains.
Not sure where they’re coming in? Spray WD-40 along the outside perimeter of the house, along the bottom of the fence and gate. They will not cross it because rabbits hate the smell of WD-40. Repeat as necessary.
Caution: WD-40 is harmful to vegetation, so be careful where you spray.