How to Control Garden Deer and Rabbits Organically

Learn how to keep your garden safe from deer and rabbits without resorting to harmful chemicals. This article outlines organic methods of control, including natural deterrents and plant selection, to protect your garden while also promoting a healthy ecosystem.


Introduction: The Problems with Deer and Rabbits in Gardens

Gardening is a hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you are an experienced gardener or just getting started, having a beautiful garden is the ultimate goal. However, maintaining a garden can become challenging especially when deer and rabbits decide to have foraging fest on your plants.

Deer and rabbit problems are common issues that many gardeners face. These herbivores can quickly devastate a beautiful garden overnight, leaving behind damaged flowers, shrubs, and trees. Their appetite poses a significant threat as they will consume various types of plants including young seedlings, vegetables, flowering plants, ornamentals such as roses, and even woody shrubs.

Here are some reasons you may find deer and rabbits problematic:

Economic costs

As cute as deer may look in your backyard from afar, they are not at all friendly to your finances. The damages caused by them might lead to economic costs because replacing damaged plants adds up along with the cost of protecting new ones.

Uncontrolled population growth

Rabbits populations grow rapidly; one female rabbit can give birth about 4-5 times per year with each litter containing around four babies. This means it is possible for there to be up to 20 baby rabbits born annually from just one fertile female! Same goes for deer – their population increases so fast that often times the food resources cannot sustain them leading them into feeding on cultivated crops which causes damage to the gardens.

Reduced aesthetic value of gardens

When considering gardening aesthetics, an attractive colorful garden tends to attract attention from neighbors passing by. For instance, having annuals featuring bright blooms covers vegetable patches preventing hungry herbivores from munching down on them during cicadas season or spring showers only improves the green-rich appeal of your yard space. But as soon as bunnies eat off young stems off sowed carrots sprouts or deer jump over your garden fence destroying shrubs, all the effort invested in gardening goes to waste.

Threat to human and pet health

Deer and rabbits are known to carry ticks which may be capable of transmitting tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis which can affect both humans and pets. It is advisable to avoid direct contact with these creatures’ bodily fluids and also limit their intrusion into open areas.

The Plant Menu for Deer and Rabbits

Deer’s feeding choice depends on location, weather conditions, availability of food during different seasons. In winter when food resources are scarce (due to s snow-covered layer), they tend to feed aggressively – looking for sustenance in backyards where vegetation is easy pickings. They will eat almost any tree especially birch, apple trees, most shrubs like butterfly bushes or shrub roses that startle game trails by at least five feet. They prefer high protein source plants like perennials – including bell flowers among others; succulent young leaves sprouting on marigolds – hence emptying gardens your backyard of aesthetically pleasing landscaping designs.

Rabbits have a long history of eating common garden plants from clover down low grasses one can guess they have a green juice cleanse diet. Some prefer gnawing on small plants while others go after specific vegetables/fruits like cabbage or radishes first- taking off almost 75% of produce yield overnight! This behavior makes nurturing plant seedlings an immense struggle because rabbits can come back every day until there is no more plant left.

Limitations of Conventional Pest Control

Many people opt for traditional pest control methods such as using insecticides/herbicides/poisons that use biological chemicals accompanied by other mechanical control methods: fencing around individual plant species (if installed poorly might not work adequately )without considering the environmental impact over time. This method can affect not only the targeted pests but also non-target species, including pollinators. The residues that remain in soils may affect beneficial plants and soil microflora and ultimately lead to a reduced yield per planting season.

What is Deer fence?

Deer fence is a type of fence specifically designed to keep deer out of an enclosed area, typically gardens or farms. [Wikipedia]

Understanding the Habits and Behaviors of Garden Deer and Rabbits

Gardeners often have to deal with the problem of deer and rabbits invading their gardens, causing damage to plants, shrubs, flowers, and vegetable patches. Apart from causing considerable damage to our lovely gardens, these animals can also be a danger on roads and highways, as well as being carriers of various diseases such as lyme disease (deer) and tularemia (rabbits). This understanding is essential when finding an organic solution for preventing them from causing harm to your garden.

Reasons Why Deer and Rabbits Come to Your Garden


Deer are herbivores that feed on leaves, buds, shoots, fruits, berries, twigs, nuts from acorns or chestnuts trees. They particularly like young growth vegetation because it is more tender than older stems or branches of mature plants. With no natural predators in cities or suburban areas where human activities dominate over wild habitats forcing them to adjust by preying upon lawns or home gardens.

Rabbits follow a similar feeding habit preferring young shoots found in kitchen gardens including vegetables such as cabbage or carrots plus other garden-growing plants like strawberries.. As herbivorous animals with limited food options during winter months when resources become scarce due to snow accumulation make available produce practical bait for these critters all year round.


Shelter is another significant factor that attracts deer and rabbits towards domesticated landscapes especially those homes built adjacent to forests because these two animals use nearby woodlands for hiding places. Trees act as bushes while leafy areas around property foundations make perfect groundcover nurseries.

As humans encroach deeper into woods through deforestation practices coupled with land development projects like new housing subdivisions away from major population centers i.e. rural areas of America, wildlife are increasingly reducing in number and lose their natural habitats forcing them to inhabit urbanized regions as their means of survival due to dwindling supplies of food amid highly developed environments.

Time of Year When Deer and Rabbits are Most Active in Gardens

Since deer’s diets consist primarily of young growth vegetation, they tend to be most active during the winter months from late fall through early spring when resources become scarce and vegetation is limited or non-existent in woodland areas. During these months, they will seek out alternative sources such as lawns, gardens, and any other green spaces that they can find near human habitation.

On the other hand, rabbits are active throughout the year but may be more active during the breeding season (January to July). This is because rabbits will consume fresh foods as a primary source to help nurture offspring. Additionally, autumn is another time period when rabbits become more active – this time in preparation for winter – by searching for food sources that can sustain them through snow accumulation periods.

Preventing Access: Fencing and Barriers to Keep Deer and Rabbits out of the Garden

Deer and rabbits can wreak havoc on a garden, chomping down on flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. While there are many commercially available products that can help deter these animals from entering your yard, they often contain harsh chemicals that can harm both the pests and the environment. That’s why many gardeners turn to organic methods for controlling deer and rabbits in their gardens.

One effective way to keep deer and rabbits out of your garden is by putting up physical barriers. These barriers can be fences or other types of structures that prevent animals from gaining access to your plants.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are one of the most reliable ways to keep deer and rabbits out of your garden. The goal is to create an obstacle that is too high or too difficult for animals to climb over or dig under.

Deer and Rabbit Fencing

Deer fencing typically stands at least 8 feet high while rabbit fencing should be at least 2 feet tall with another foot buried underground. When choosing fencing materials consider durability (it should last a long time outdoors) as well as appearance (it shouldn’t take away from the beauty of your landscaping).

Durability options include:

  • Steel hex-wire
  • Angle iron posts
  • Woven wire

Appearance options include:

  • Decorative aluminum fence
  • Split rail fence with netting

When you install a physical barrier in your garden, make sure it completely encloses the area you want to protect—otherwise, deer or rabbits may find an opening through which they can enter. Be sure gates are secured as well—you don’t want them crawling under!

Rabbit-proof Fencing

Rabbits aren’t as elusive as deer so setting up small chicken wire barricades placed around individual plants could work just fine.

Place stakes around each plant leaving enough space to wrap wire around with grounded ends of the fence at intervals so as to minimize gaps. Don’t forget to bury down a part of the fence as they like to dig their way in.

Natural Barriers

In addition to physical barriers, natural barriers can be effective for deterring deer and rabbits from munching on your plants.

Thorny Shrubs

A hedge made up of thorny shrubs can prove too much for most animals. Shrubbery such as firethorns and barberry bushes will not only add visual value but also repel animals before they get close enough to destroy your garden or landscaping.

Thorny shrubs are also relatively low-maintenance, making them an excellent choice for homeowners who want a beautiful yard without spending countless hours on upkeep.


Another natural deterrent is netting-while not exactly aesthetically pleasing, it will keep critters out while remaining discreet when placed in patches where pests may access your garden area, having being covered until ready for harvest.

Natural Deterrents: Plants and Scents that Repel Deer and Rabbits

Deer and rabbits are cute animals that we all love to watch from afar, but they can cause a lot of damage to our gardens. They love to nibble on plants, flowers, and vegetables, leaving our hard work ruined. While there are many ways to control garden deer and rabbits organically, using natural deterrents is one of the best options.

Plants that Repel Deer and Rabbits

Certain plants have strong scents that deer and rabbits dislike, and planting them in your garden can help repel these animals naturally.


Marigolds are one of the most popular plants used to repel deer and rabbits due to their pungent smell. These bright orange or yellow flowers produce a strong scent that animals don’t like. Planting marigolds around the perimeter of your garden or in between your vegetable rows can help deter these herbivores from eating your plants.

Marigolds are also great companion plants for tomatoes as they repel harmful nematodes in the soil while providing beauty in your garden.


Another plant with a strong scent that deer and rabbits dislike is lavender. This fragrant purple plant not only smells amazing but also helps protect your other plants from being eaten by these hungry herbivores.

Lavender works best when planted around the edges of your garden or mixed among other ornamental herbs such as sage or thyme.

Scents that Repel Deer and Rabbits

In addition to planting deterrent plants, certain scents can also be used to repel deer and rabbits naturally.


Believe it or not, soap can be an effective way to keep deer away from sensitive areas in your garden. A heavily perfumed bar soap (not liquid) tied up in little mesh bags or stockings placed nearby will give off a strong scent that will keep herbivores away. Irish spring soap is one of the most commonly used soaps for this purpose.

If you have a small vegetable bed or prized ornamentals, hang mesh bags containing soap from surrounding trees or stakes to protect them.


Garlic is not only great for repelling vampires, but it can also be used to repel deer and rabbits. Placing garlic cloves around your garden creates an effective barrier animals won’t want to cross. The pungent odor emitted by garlic masks other scents in the area making it difficult for deer and rabbits to find their way into your treasured plants.

To add garlic as a deterrent, simply add crushed garlic cloves to water and spray around the perimeter of your garden occasionally.

Repelling with Taste: Homemade Organic Repellents to Keep Deer and Rabbits Away

Deer and rabbits are cute animals that can sometimes cause serious damage to gardens. They eat delicate flowers and plants, making it difficult for gardeners to enjoy the fruits of their labor. While commercial repellents exist, homemade organic repellents are a great way to keep your garden safe without harming the environment.

Homemade Deer Repellent Recipes

Deer can be deterred by using strong-smelling sprays that have a spicy or pungent odor. These are some simple homemade deer repellent options:

Hot Pepper Spray


  • 2 cups of hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero or cayenne)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap


  1. Blend the hot peppers and water until they make a fine puree.
  2. Strain the mixture into a pot.
  3. Add in one tablespoon of mild dish soap.
  4. Heat up the mixture on medium heat until it comes to a boil.
  5. Turn off the heat, let it cool down.
  6. Transfer it into a spray bottle.

To use this spray, coat plants leaves or around areas frequented by deer with them every two weeks during periods when you see lots of deer activity.

Egg and Milk Spray

Eggs and milk contain proteins that repel deer while also providing nutrients to your garden plants.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Mix together all ingredients in a pot or bowl.
  2. Pour contents into an empty spray bottle intended for gardening purposes,

Spray this mixture directly onto vulnerable plant leaves once per week during peak growing seasons.

Homemade Rabbit Repellent Recipes

Rabbits are most active during the early morning and late afternoon, but will eat plants at any time of day. A straightforward way to reduce rabbit damage is to alter your garden design so rabbits cannot enter easily. However, nontoxic repellents can also be used effectively.

Bone Meal

Bone meal is pulverized bones that offer beneficial nutrients to soil and act as an outdoor fertilizer. It is also an unwanted snack for hungry rabbits.


  • bone meal

Sprinkle a light dusting of bone meal around the garden every few weeks, especially near the parts most browse by rabbits.

Blood Meal

Blood meal is another incredibly effective fertilizer that scares off pests thanks to its intense smell and organic makeup. Rabbits don’t like blood meal, which repels them from the area where it has been applied


  • blood meal

Blood meal can be sprinkled directly onto areas of exposed soil or worked into gardens’ plans following seeding or planting.

Bulleted list:

  • The homemade deer repellent sections provide two recipes using simple household ingredients.
  • Hot pepper spray utilizes fresh hot peppers combined with mild dish soap to create a sprayable solution.
  • Egg and milk spray makes use of eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and water to form another ammonia-scented repellent.
  • Two different homemade rabbit repelling methods are
  • Bone meal offers added nutrition while being an effective way to help keep away pesky bunnies.
  • Bloodmeal functions similarly while having a particularly pungent scent that is especially deterring for wildlife like rabbits.

Encouraging Predators and Natural Enemies of Deer and Rabbits to Visit the Garden

Gardening is a highly rewarding activity, but it can be frustrating when deer and rabbits decide to make your plants their tasty meal. While many conventional methods for controlling these pests involve using chemicals, there are organic ways to deter them as well. One such method is encouraging natural predators and enemies of deer and rabbits to visit your garden.

Predators of Deer and Rabbits

Deer and rabbits have a number of natural predators that can help keep their population in check. These include:


Coyotes are one predator that will prey on both deer and rabbits. While many people may not welcome coyotes in their neighborhoods, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping control animal populations.


Like coyotes, foxes will prey on both deer and rabbits. They tend to be smaller than coyotes, making them a good option for suburban or urban gardens.

Attracting Predators to Your Garden

If you’re interested in encouraging natural predators to visit your garden, there are several tactics you can use.

Planting Shelter for Predators

One way to attract predators like coyotes and foxes is by planting shelter for them. Dense shrubs or plants with low-hanging branches can provide cover for animals seeking refuge from the weather or other threats. Consider planting species like holly, serviceberry, or elderberry to provide habitat possibilities for shelter-seeking animals. However, keep areas you care about where children play free from potential danger zones closer than 60 yards from dense cover plants required by predators..

Plants that Attract Predators

Another way you can encourage predator visits is by planting flowers or foliage that they find attractive.

  1. Buckwheat: Buckwheat attracts beneficial insects that feed on common pests such as Japanese beetles.
  2. Perennial Wheatgrass: By establishing a diverse plant community within your garden, you can provide food sources and keep predators’ stock of small game high.
  3. California Poppy: Consider planting native flowers, such as the California poppy. These flowers are particularly attractive to a variety of insects, many of which are natural enemies or predators of common garden pests.

Another smart way to diversify your plant selection in order to attract predators is to consider an ecosystem layout that mimics the structure and dynamics of a healthy ecosystem with multiple trophic levels – see points 1 &2 above) leading up to larger mammals. Mammals like foxes and coyotes will be attracted when they sense biodiversity through smell or sight.

By encouraging these animals into your garden organically, you can help control deer and rabbit populations without resorting to chemical methods. Not only will it benefit your garden’s ecosystem health-wise, but it’ll also give you greater peace-of-mind knowing that organic practices are safer for yourself and enjoyable for animals too!

Companion Planting: Using Plants that Deer and Rabbits Dislike to Protect Garden Plants

Deer and rabbits can cause major damage to your garden by munching on your plants. While many people consider using chemicals or physical barriers to control these pests, there is a natural way to ward them off – companion planting. Companion planting involves planting certain plants next to each other in order to benefit one another.

Plants that Deer and Rabbits Dislike


Daffodils have a unique feature that makes them very unappealing to deer and rabbits – they contain toxic alkaloids. These compounds make the bulbs and leaves of daffodils poisonous if ingested, which will deter most wild animals from eating them. Additionally, these bright yellow flowers add a beautiful pop of color to any garden.


Alliums include onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots. They all contain a strong smell that repels deer and rabbits from coming near your garden. Because they come in different shapes and sizes, you can easily incorporate various types of alliums into your garden bed for added protection against wildlife.

Combinations that Work Best

Tomatoes and Basil

Tomatoes are favorite targets for deer due to their sweet fruit flavor. However, basil contains compounds that make it an unappealing dining option for these creatures. By planting tomatoes next to basil in your garden bed or container gardening setup, you’ll safeguard the tomato crop while also having fresh herbs on hand for cooking throughout the summer months.

Squash and Nasturtiums

Squash is another popular vegetable often attacked by deer during the growing season. To keep this plant safe when planted in the middle rows of your raised beds or container garden, try pairing it with companion plants such as nasturtiums. Nasturtiums come in a variety of beautiful colors and have a spicy taste that is beloved by bees but not by rabbits or deer.

Other Companion Plant Options

In addition to daffodils, alliums, basil, and nasturtiums, there are other plants that you can use to protect your garden from wildlife. Here are some of the most effective and easy-to-grow options:

  • Marigolds: These colorful flowers emit an odor that repels rabbits.
  • Lavender: This plant has a strong odor and can be planted around the perimeter of your garden to deter deer and rabbits.
  • Mint: This herb has a powerful scent that animals don’t like, making it great for potting on your patio or planting in raised beds around your more vulnerable herbs.
  • Sage: Sage has aromatic leaves which make them unpopular snacks among deer.

How to Get Started

If you’re interested in using companion planting as part of your organic pest control strategy, begin by researching which plants grow well together in terms soil pH requirements and watering needs. Once you have this information, choose plants such as the ones mentioned above that complement each other in terms of their abilities to deter unwanted pests. Plant these species close together so that when one plant repels pests with its scent or taste, nearby ones are also less likely to be eaten.

Companion planting takes some knowledge about the specific types of plants you’re trying to protect and what they need for optimal growth before adding bedfellows into the mix – however once done right it might level-up your gardening game while keeping wildlife at bay!

Harvesting and Feeding Wild Animals in Adjacent Areas to Draw Them Away from Your Garden

Dealing with deer and rabbits can be a challenging task. While there are several ways to control them, not all methods are sustainable or humane. Many chemicals and traps may harm the environment, and some may even hurt the animals you’re trying to protect. One solution that works in many cases is harvesting and feeding wild animals in adjacent areas around your garden.

Feeding wildlife helps create a food source elsewhere, which can reduce their hunger in your garden. By drawing deer and rabbits away from your plants, you reduce crop damage without harming the local wildlife population.

Here’s what you need to know about this method:

What to Feed Wild Animals

When it comes to feeding wild animals, it’s essential to offer a balanced diet rich in nutrients that they need for survival. Most wildlife experts recommend providing fruits, grains, or seeds that are high in carbohydrates, protein, fat or fiber. Here are some of the best foods for attracting deer and rabbits:


Corn is an excellent food source for both deer and rabbits as it provides high amounts of carbohydrates needed for energy. It can be fed either as whole kernels or cracked corn kernels mixed with other seeds or grains.

However, since too much corn isn’t suitable for their diet – causing problems such as acidosis- it’s crucial not to overdo feeding on corn only.


Apples are great treats to attract both rabbits and deer towards specific spots away from your gardens where feeding stations could be established; though do note that apples will also attract other pests including rodents when they start decomposing.

Setting Up a Feeding Station

Once you’ve decided on feeding wildlife in adjacent areas around your garden, it’s vital to set up the right kind of station that correctly attracts them without actively luring them near to your adjacent area.

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in setting up a feeding station is choosing the right location. A suitable place to locate a feeding station is within an area of woodlands near your home or garden. The area should have some natural cover and ample water supply nearby.

When you’re setting the positions, avoid placing it too close to other buildings or homes as it can attract pests like rats and raccoons towards people’s homes.

Using the Right Equipment

After you’ve chosen a spot for your feeding station, it’s essential to use the right equipment. A suitable feeding station will contain both food and water provisions that are protected from weather elements such as rain.

Specialized feeders are a great choice when you want to create dedicated bait stations where wildlife can get used to eating specific foods regularly. Such feeders prevent spillage of food or debris while ensuring that nobody (including humans) gains access to these significant sources of nutrition which should also be logistically easily checked up on during longer periods where you wouldn’t want them uncheck due to going perhaps bad or molding over time.

Conclusion: Combining Methods for Maximum Success in Controlling Deer and Rabbits in Your Garden

Controlling deer and rabbits in your garden can be a challenging task, but with the right combination of methods, it can be done effectively and organically. Here are some of the key takeaways from this guide on how to control garden deer and rabbits organically.

  • Understand the behavior and habitat of deer and rabbits – One of the first steps in controlling these animals is to understand their behavior patterns and habits. By doing this, you can identify areas in your garden that are most susceptible to damage, as well as determine which type of deterrent or control method will work best.
  • Use physical barriers – Fences, netting, and other physical barriers can be highly effective at keeping deer and rabbits out of your garden. Make sure that your fencing is tall enough to prevent jumping by deer or digging under by rabbits.
  • Plant deer-resistant plants – Certain types of plants are less likely to attract deer or rabbits than others. Some examples include lavender, daffodils, yarrow, and catmint. Planting these types of plants throughout your garden can help deter pests naturally.
  • Use scent deterrents – Pests like deer and rabbits rely heavily on their sense of smell to identify food sources. Using natural repellents such as predator urine or garlic spray can help mask the scents that attract these animals while making them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
  • Install motion-sensor devices – Motion-sensor devices such as sprinklers or lights can startle deer or rabbits when they enter an area where they shouldn’t be. These devices simulate predators approaching thereby making the pests run away before causing harm.
  • Consider companion planting – Certain plant combinations may help protect your crops against rabbit infestations. This is because some plants are known for repelling pests while others tend to attract them away from a specific area.
  • Maintain cleanliness around your garden – Deer and rabbits are more likely to be attracted to gardens with clutter and debris accumulated around them. Keep your garden clean, reduce hiding spots, and remove any attracting elements near the garden like spilled bird seeds or pet foods.

By using one or a combination of these methods, you can take control of your garden and protect it from deer and rabbits organically. Remember that each method has different advantages depending on the pests you want to get rid of so its important you try several in order to determine which works best for you.

Another key thing when it comes to pest control is that consistency matters. You will need persistence over an extended period in order to keep deer and rabbits out of your garden for good. Equally important is learning how to adapt your methods as animals become accustomed or develop ways around them.

Organic pest management involves balance: weighing between preserving soil health in a natural way while still contributing healthy flows into our ecosystems by eliminating harmful organisms such as pests. It’s time-efficient but also friendly towards the environment making sure we keep our planet green while still guaranteeing an abundant harvest time after other!.

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