Woodside Guide to Reducing rabbit damage



Fencing – the best way to keep rabbits out of the garden is by installing rabbit proof netting. Remember that rabbits are burrowing animals, so the netting should be partially buried in the ground, and gates need to be netted as well. Problems can occur if there are rabbits on the site when you put up the fencing – they will be trapped in! Make sure you clear the site of all rabbits first.


Plant Guards – using the same principle as above, but for individual plants which require specific protection, and is nearly always necessary for young trees and shrubs in rural areas. Recent hard winters have caused big problems with rabbit, hare and deer damage, so the placing of tree guards should not be overlooked.


Spraying – a locally developed product, but now sold on to a new dealership, “Grazers” can prevent damage to plants. It works by making the plant taste nasty, so the rabbit may take a bite and then decide not to bother any more, and moves elsewhere unharmed. It can be an expensive solution to the problem, but if you’ve planted something really special, which you particularly wish to protect, then it may be money well spent. Also helps against deer, hares and pigeons


Plant selection – Here is a list of plants that rabbits may find unpalatable, that has been put together over many years in the garden industry. Apparently rabbits’ tastes vary from group to group, so the list is made up of suggestions only, and is not set in stone!


Perennials:       Acanthus (Bears’ Breeches) – spiky and tough

Aconitum (Monkshood) – poisonous, rabbits seem to leave it alone

Agapanthus – needs a sunny, sheltered spot

Ajuga repens (Bugle) – all types excellent ground cover

Alchemilla mollis – cottage garden favourite

Astilbe – requires a damp soil and semi-shade

Bergenia (Elephants’ Ears) – large fleshy leaves; good ground cover

Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass) – sharp leaves put off rabbits

Dahlia – both bedding and perennial types

Echinops (Globe Thistle) – friendly to bees and butterflies

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) – thrives in full sun

Lupinus (Lupins)  – popular in informal planting schemes

Nepeta (Catmints) – soft hairy leaves and insect attracting flowers

Primula – mostly requiring damp conditions and semi-shade

Rheum – both ornamental and edible rhubarbs

Sedum (Iceplants) – fleshy, almost succulent type foliage

Stachys lanata (Lambs’ Ears) – soft woolly leaves, good ground cover

Verbena – slightly rough leaves, and spectacular flowers

Bulbs:               Alliums – members of the onion family, large globes of flowers

Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) – very early spring flowers, bright yellow

Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops) – iconic flower heralding the end of winter

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) – lovely blue flowers, very underrated

Narcissus (Daffodil) – apparently also poisonous to dogs

Tulips – statuesque flowers of various shades in late spring

Shrubs:             Aucuba (Spotted laurel) – marbled leaved evergreen

Bamboos – Not personally recommended, as my daughters’ rabbit eats these!

Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) – fragrant flowers a magnet to butterflies

Buxus (Box) – classic dwarf evergreen hedging plant

Ceanothus  (Californian Lilac) – needs sheltered site, perhaps against a wall

Cistus (Sun Rose) – aromatic foliage, cheerful flowers in pink or white

Cornus (Dogwoods) – superb winter stem colour

Cytisus (Broom) – needs a sunny site, flowers in cream, yellow or orange

Elaeagnus pungens maculata – evergreen, with variegated leaves

Escallonia – evergreen, sometimes struggles to overwinter in this area

Euonymus – good tough ground cover, may climb if planted against a wall

Fuschia – hardy types. Remarkably good performers, with pendant flowers

Hydrangea – traditional, reliable shrubs, easy to grow

Lavatera – attractive flowers in shades of pink. May suffer in severe winters

Philadelphus – highly fragrant white flower, every garden should have one

Rhododendron – exuberant flowers from late spring . Needs acidic soil

Ribes (Flowering Currant) – smells a bit unpleasant, but attractive flowers

Rosemary – essential culinary herb, has suffered in recent winters.

Syringa (Lilac) – curiously out of fashion, pretty flowers with incredible scent

Weigela – very overlooked summer flowering shrub. Attractive, easy and tough

Climbers:         Clematis – wide variety available to flower in almost every month

Lonicera (Honeysuckle) – popular twining plant, good for birds and insects

Trees:                Betula (Birch) – graceful tree suitable for small gardens, good for birds

Eucalyptus – surprisingly hardy with aromatic foliage and attractive bark

Laburnum – poisonous to many things, but nevertheless spectacular

Pinus – most pines are too spiky for rabbits to bother with.

Prunus (Cherries) – stunning spring blossom, and good for wildlife

                        Sambucus (Elder) – Attractive flowers and foliage, berries loved by birds

I would be very interested to hear about plants you have found to successfully avoid rabbit damage – just let me know so I can add to this list! Emma.

rabbit garden ornament