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How to Protect Garden Bedding Plants from Deer and Rabbits

By Robert W. Lewis
Rabbits can cause extensive damage to bedding plants.

Bedding plants -- ornamental flowers planted in large groups -- are mainstays in many home gardens. Usually annuals, they are inexpensive and easy to grow. Being temporary garden residents, they provide the opportunity to change plantings from season to season. Many gardeners understand, however, that bedding plants are often susceptible to damage from deer and rabbits.

Plant deer- and rabbit-resistant species. Such flowers include marigolds, salvias, lamb's ears, coneflowers and foxglove. Many bulbs, such as daffodils, alliums and fritillaries are resistant.

Surround bedding areas with plants that deter deer and rabbits. The pungent odor of many plants, such as lavender, marigold and rosemary, warn animals of their alkaline flavor and often keep them away from more tasty plants.

Install a 2-foot-tall chicken wire fence to keep out rabbits. Stake the fence securely to the ground or bury it several inches to keep rabbits from getting under them.

Apply deer- and rabbit-repelling sprays according to label directions. Animal repellents are often made from natural ingredients like coyote urine or rotting meat. Old-timers often applied human urine to the ground beneath plants for natural pest control.

Hang bars of deodorant soap in nylon stockings from stakes or nearby shrubs to keep deer away. Nylon stockings filled with human hair can be hung to warn animals of human presence.

Locate vulnerable plant species closer to the house or other areas of common human activity such as patios and children's play areas. The presence and scent of humans will warn deer and rabbits away.

Walk the dog near bedding areas. The scent of the dog and its waste -- even after cleaning up -- is strong and undesirable to animal pests.


Things You Will Need

  • Deer and rabbit repellent
  • Chicken wire fencing
  • Nylon stockings
  • Deodorant soap


  • Fences for deer need to be very sturdy and at least 8 feet tall to be effective, so they are not usually desirable for bedding areas which are intended to be enjoyed close-up. Deer fencing is more practical when applied to entire properties or large parts of a garden.

About the Author


Robert Lewis has been writing do-it-yourself and garden-related articles since 2000. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Maryland and has training experience in finance, garden center retailing and teaching English as a second language. Lewis is an antiques dealer specializing in Chinese and Japanese export porcelain.