Jul 232010

I like bunnies; but those sweet, innocent-looking creatures are cotton-tailed eating machines in my vegetable garden. I use various strategies to keep those “wascally wabbits” from my veggies and fruits.

Method 1: Raise the garden

Some of my vegetables grow in a tall raised bed and large containers. These need to be at least 18 inches high so the rabbits can’t reach the plants.

Method 2: Fence the garden

Small fences surround my main garden areas. Originally I tried plastic poultry-netting for the fence. It’s easy to use. However rabbits can chew through plastic. It took my bunnies a year to discover this. You can try using a double layer of plastic netting to discourage chewing. Now I use chicken wire or metal screening material. Screening material (just like the kind you use in a screen window) is my first choice. It’s easy to handle and cut. If you use chicken wire, the openings should be no bigger than one inch. Bunnies have a talent for squeezing through tight spaces. Hardware cloth makes a good barrier too, but handle it carefully, because it’s sharp.

Support the fencing material with stakes, spaced a few feet apart. The fence should be about 2 feet tall to prevent high jumps into the vegetable patch. Make it 3 feet tall if you have jackrabbits. Bury another 6 to 12 inches of netting or chicken wire, half of it outward at a horizontal angle to discourage burrowing. I buried mine under a deep mulch of newspapers and grass clippings.

Method 3: Protect young trees

Rabbits and other critters like to eat tree bark in the winter. Their snacks can kill small trees. Bunny-proof the trunks by wrapping a loose circle of hardware cloth, plastic barrier material or chicken wire around trunks of small trees. Make sure that the barrier is higher than your snowline.

Method 4: Grow a flower fence

My final barrier is the prettiest. I am planting a wide flower bed outside the rabbit fence. It disguises the fence, provides flowers for the house, adds another layer of protect against critters and looks beautiful. I use perennial herbs, comfrey, cannas and daylilies. Their roots form a barrier that discourages burrowing. Summer annuals like zinnias provide midsummer color. And daffodils are an important part of a floral fence. Their bulbs contain alkaloids that are toxic to rabbits. So bunnies avoid them.

So far the rabbits have ignored the plants in my flower fence. Of course, your rabbits may have different tastes than mine.