Top 7 Tips To Protect Your Shrubs From Rabbits During The Winter

Rabbits are one of those animals that are still active during the winter looking for food.

So even though you get a break from other animals that might travel somewhere else for winter or take a long nap, you still have to be on the lookout for what the rabbits are doing.

And this means you need to protect your shrubs so they do not get eaten.

A few ways to protect your shrubs from rabbits include putting up a chicken wire fence, using items around the house to protect young seedlings, applying scents of predators around your shrubs, planting shrubs rabbits do not like, applying bad tasting items around your shrubs, clearing the clutter, and getting rid of possible shelters.

Read on to find out what the overall preferred method is for keeping rabbits away from your shrubs

Why rabbits will go after your shrubs

Rabbits do not prepare ahead of time like squirrels do.

They also do not hibernate during the winter.

So while they do not need as much food during the winter, they still need something to snack on.

Because of this, your shrubs may be something easy for them to get to and chew on.

So it is important to take some steps ahead of time to make sure your rabbits do not go after your shrubs.

Otherwise your shrubs will become their next dependable snacking place.

Put up a chicken wire fence

Depending on the number of shrubs you are trying to protect, putting up a chicken wire fence might be your best option.

And the process is pretty simple.

To be safe, get yourself chicken wire fence that is at least 36 inches high.

Rabbits have the ability to jump, but 3 feet might be just enough to keep them from jumping over.

You can get some t-posts as well, if you like, but it is not necessary.

That also depends on the size of your shrub. A wider shrub may need a t-post because the fence has to cover a greater area and will need reinforcement.

Once you have the chicken wire, make sure to bury it at least a few inches into the ground.

Rabbits are avid diggers and will not hesitate to dig to get to your shrubs.

Putting it a few inches into the ground will make an underground invasion impossible.

Then wrap the chicken wire around your shrub.

If the shrub is too big, bury a few t-posts in the ground and then attach the chicken wire to the t-post by using twine or tie wire.

Tie wire will be more stable than twine, so I prefer the tie wire.

Depending on the number of shrubs you are looking to protect, this would be my preferred method of protecting your shrubs.

If you have just a few shrubs, protecting them with a fence could be relatively inexpensive.

If you have more than a few, you could find yourself investing some money to protect the shrubs.

Use items around the house for seedlings

For older shrubs, they can take a little bit of a beating from animals and still be able to survive.

For seedlings, it is not the same situation.

Any destruction to seedlings could kill them.

So use items you can find around the house to cover and protect your shrub seedlings.

This could include yogurt containers, milk cartons, or strawberry containers.

Anything that could give a little bit of cover to your shrub seedlings will help.

If you use something light weight, like yogurt containers, make sure to place a rock on top of the container so it does not blow away.

Apply scents around the shrubs

Rabbits use their sense of smell to know whether or not predators are located around them.

So we can use that to our advantage when protecting our shrubs.

If you know what rabbits’ predators are, you can use their keen sense of smell against them.

One predator of rabbits are dogs and if you have a dog for a pet, gather up dog hair or droppings and leave them around your shrubs.

The rabbits will pick up the scents of the dog and stay away from that area.

In the case of having lots of shrubs, this may be the preferred method of protecting them, since it would be inexpensive to cover a lot of ground.

Plant shrubs rabbits do not like

According to

Rabbits generally don’t like the prickliness or the flavor and aroma of shrubs such as:



Oregon grape

Currant or gooseberry

Turpentine bush




It may be a little bit of a sacrifice to only plant those shrubs that rabbits will not eat, but it may be worth it to have shrubs that will not die from animals eating them.

On the other hand, you could simply plant the rabbit repelling shrubs around the edges of your garden area to keep rabbits away.

Scatter bad-tasting items around your shrubs

You can use different tastes around your shrubs to keep rabbits from destroying those shrubs.

When a rabbit comes up to a shrub that you have covered with these flavors, the rabbit will not like the taste and will not try to eat the shrub again.

These tastes include:

  • Bitter sprays
  • Hot pepper sauce or flakes
  • Vinegar
  • Ivory soap
  • Ammonia
  • Garlic

Also keep in mind that if you are putting these on shrubs that you may try to eat later, wash them off thoroughly to ensure you do not get the taste that was meant for the rabbits.

Clear the clutter

When it comes to the winter, rabbits will eat what they can get their hands on, since their normal food is going to be scarce.

So if you did some trimming of fruit trees or spilled some of the seed mix you put in your bird feeder, clean up after yourself.

If you leave these messes around on the ground, rabbits could pick up on what is being left around.

That might entice them to come back to your shrubs and check those out before moving on.

If you take extra precautions and pick up after yourself, the rabbits will not have any extra pickings to go through.

Get rid of possible shelters

Outside of food, the next important thing that rabbits need during winter is shelter.

They will look for anything that works that might protect them from the cold and wind.

This includes your shed, house, patio, or they might even dig a little hole if it will protect them.

So, while you are walking around your yard cleaning up any clutter, make sure to look for anything that could be a possible shelter for rabbits, especially around your shrubs.

If you find any spots in your yard that might look like a shelter for a rabbit, make sure to fill it or take it apart.

If it is a hole, fill it up with dirt.

If it is a hole into your house or shed, make sure to get some spackle and fill the hole in.

Rabbits will take advantage of any hole or crevice around your house.


During the winter, rabbits will feed on almost anything they can get their hands on.

And this includes your shrubs.

So make sure to apply any repellents, plant shrubs that rabbits do not like, sprinkle tastes rabbits do not prefer, look out for shelters and clean up your clutter.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

Recent Content