Monday, March 24, 2014

The Containment Corollary

I have a secret: I'm outrageously jealous of the rabbits living under my neighbors house. They have no deadlines, alarm clocks, or bureaucratic nutjobs to deal with. They spend their days eating, sleeping, and having sex. There are no bad hair days, wrinkles, or calories to worry about. They are always cute and I can't stand it.


But as envious as I am of their lustful, snack-filled lifestyle, my garden has become their favorite buffet. As they fuel up for round after round of naked bunny funtime, more and more of my plants begin to disappear. Last summer dwarf heliopsis, most of my asters, dalea, sedum, beans, annual vines, etc were all devoured. They need to start eating my neighbors landscaping instead of my garden. So while the bunnies are locked in their latest orgasmic frenzy creating hordes of babies to further decimate my garden, I'm battening the hatches and waiting for their Bacchanalian festivities to end. What the rabbits don't know is I've created a bunny blockade.


What people see


What female rabbits see

Knowing bunny proof plants exist as stalwarts of garden mythology only, I had to take a more drastic approach. Since my four well-rested dogs hadn't done much to reduce the local bunny population, I needed to figure out a way to keep the rabbits out of my garden so they could focus on eating everyone else's plants instead. To do this, I enclosed my entire garden in green plastic coated wire fencing and created barricades for my fence gates. 


I used whatever green plastic coated wire netting was available from my
 local hardware store.


Since eastern cottontail rabbits aren't known for their jumping abilities, I only used fencing that was 2 feet high.


I used cable zip ties to attach the fencing to the black wire pet fencing that already lines my wooden fence. I started with the little zip ties but they drove me crazy and I soon switched to much longer black ties. I used landscape staples to secure the fencing into the ground. 


Most of the fencing was attached from my neighbors side of the fence since I had too many woody plants in the way. My wonderful neighbors decided I was crazy a long time ago and don't mind the rabbits. They may change their mind when they have no plants left.


I rolled the fencing a bit at the bottom to help prevent the rabbits from digging underneath.


I used square dowels to reduce the space between my gate slats so the rabbits can't squeeze through the openings. It's possible they'll dig under the gate, but I'm hoping they're not that motivated.


 This was a really easy project!


I used a cheap piece of decorative molding to block the bottom of the fence. The pea gravel isn't part of the bunny blockade. This area stays wet after it rains and the gravel helps with drainage.


Even though I've fenced in the back garden, there's still plenty for the rabbits to eat along the front and sides of the house. Note to self: Encourage neighbors to plant lettuce. 

79 comments:

  1. What a battle plan you have implemented! It will be interesting to see if they still get in and have their way in your garden. How can you have such brazen rabbits with dogs??

    I found that tons of red pepper flakes sprinkled around the plants that rabbits like keeps them away. And one year Jim fired the air gun while he was on the patio. Every rabbit scampered in fright, and for a whole summer all he had to do was walk out on the patio and the rabbits took off. Good luck with your rabbit proof fence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I fired a gun in my neighborhood, the cops would be here in a hot second. But I love the hot pepper flake idea. The rabbits come out after sunrise when my dogs are still asleep. There's enough cover that they're able to hide from the dogs when their schedules do collide. So great to hear from you!

      Delete
  2. That should help and at least send the evil creatures elsewhere this summer. The gate looks quite good with the new decorative slats. We have coyotes and foxes so I haven't seen a bunny in years. A gardening friend wants me to give them directions to her house where they are invited for bunny stew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had an explosion in our bunny population last year because our winter had been so mild. They just ate everything. I've seen gates designed like this before and when I was trying to figure out to block the spaces between the fence slats, an image of a gate designed that way popped to mind so I used it. I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

      Delete
  3. Why, General Tammy, it sounds as though you've mounted an excellent defensive plan. I just hope the little buggers don't know how to dig! I do think you need to retrain your offensive troops (i.e. the dogs), however.

    Isn't it amazing how such cute creatures can cause such havoc?! My most significant garden adversaries are raccoons and squirrels. The raccoons are tough because they attack under the cover of night and they're mean as well as cunning. The squirrels strike during the day but what they lose in terms of secrecy they make up for with persistence - luckily, they're usually diverted by the bird feeders and, heck, if the birds can't defend their own outposts, that's their problem. Thankfully, the local coyotes don't eat plants so they have little interest in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they dig their way in, I'm doomed. I'm hoping they'll just go to my neighbors yard and eat all their plants. Raccoons are super intelligent. I'd rather have rabbits. I have lots of squirrels, too, but my dogs keep them on the run. My dogs are too lazy and well fed to consider harassing a bunny. I actually think they've reached detente and have signed a peace treaty because the dogs are suspiciously uninterested in them.

      Delete
  4. Ok this has my name all over it for many reasons! Loved your humor with their lifestyle by the way! It is beyond true! They are already infiltrating my yard and we don't even have any spring blooms up yet! And one has already dug under one of my gates so my blood is pumping!!! I need to go for this method as we not only have rabbits here we have skunks thanks to my back neighbor who enjoys any type of wildlife who will come for a visit by feeding them 3 square meals a day! So how did you secure them to the ground??? What a fantastic idea friend! Wonderful week to you pal! Nicole xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. I used really long landscape staples. The cheapest ones I've found are at Amazon.com where I can buy them in boxes of 100 to 500. The ones made from thicker metal are better because they don't bend as easy. I'm sure I'll have a few that still sneak in but I want to make it as hard as possible for them. They are so destructive!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great battle plan, I really hope it works! Cable ties are great stuff, I use them a lot around the garden as they don’t rust or rot or break.

    I don’t have rabbits here in my London garden, but the squirrels are particularly destructive right now – I wish I could come up with a similar plan to keep them out but apart from laying a glass roof over the whole garden, I don’t know what would keep them out. You should see the acrobatics they perform, with me standing just feet away, they are not scared at all. And my cat really can’t be bothered to chase them away anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a lot of squirrels, too but they don't do any damage. Plus, chasing them keeps my dogs exercised. The cable ties were lifesavers. :o)

      Delete
  7. Yes, this sounds like my life, too. And I think you're right--chicken wire fencing is the only sure way to keep them out. I've tried so many things over the years, and some of them work for a while and then just fail. And by that time, the rabbits have chewed the plants down to the soil. Grrrr ... Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind if the rabbits munch a few leaves here and there but they devoured my plants to the point they couldn't recover and died. It was frustrating and eventually, expensive to replace them all. I hatched this plan last summer and just had to wait until the garden was dormant but the ground unfrozen so the staples wouldn't bend going in. I just chipped at away at this project as the weather allowed.

      Delete
  8. Hi Tammy, we had the same problem like you do with the rabbits and by fencing the backyard in we got it pretty much under control. Sometimes a rabbit digs through under the fence though, but by checking the perimeters of the backyard regularly and placing a big stone into a new rabbit hole, we are able to keep them out for the most part. For the front yard, which is completely open and can't be fenced in, I found another solution. I spray "Liquid Fence" Deer & Rabbit Repellent around the whole perimeter of the front yard and to my own surprise it works and the rabbits stay out of it (They actually go to the neighbors yards, just like you wish ;-)). This stuff stinks like crazy though when wet, but after it has dried only the rabbits can smell it. In case you want to try it out, just make sure you don't get it accidentally on your clothes or skin. That happened to me once and then only an immediate shower could help and the clothes had to go straight into the washer. But to me it's worth it! Happy spring!
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard of Liquid Fence but my neighbors might be less accommodating if they had to smell it. I'd love to think that this will be a permanent solution but I'm sure a few determined and hungry bunnies will find a way in. But I will be on the lookout!

      Delete
  9. Stupid sap that I am I let the deer family graze the meadow all winter. In return they waltzed over to the house and mowed down all the spring bulbs. I'm dreading this turning into my version of bunny wars. I don't think I have the fortitude you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh oh!! You're in for a battle of the bulbs!! The deer will love all the care you give their garden as they're munching away!

      Delete
  10. Let's hope it will work. In my experience, once you put up a barrier like this they employ all their time and skills in trying to breach it. For the bunny, the grass is always greener on the other side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping my bunnies are the slothful, dopey type who won't figure that out.

      Delete
  11. The bunnies are sometime really annoying, eat all the beauty in our garden. Also make a hole under the ground. But they are so cute and produce a great manure. Oh please...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have fallen for their cuteness many times. It would be easier to dislike them if they were less adorable.

      Delete
  12. I sure hope that does it for you and I bet it does. My wood privacy fence keeps them out of my back yard but a couple years ago I had them destroy 10 or 12 Heuchera out front. They are no longer cute in my eyes. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My neighborhood has strict rules about fences so they were just hopping into my garden whenever they were hungry since privacy fences aren't allowed. I'm hoping this slows them down.

      Delete
  13. Tammy, I always love your sense of humor and positive attitude! I hope your efforts pay off. I know how frustrating their feasting can be. My neighbor feeds the rabbits...and I don't mean by her plants she actually puts food out for them. Not sure if that is why I don't have them in my garden or if my dogs keep them running. I wish you all the luck and hope your plants survive to see another day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The house they live under has very little landscaping so maybe if I used your neighbors idea it would save my garden. I think your dogs are better bunny chasers than mine are. :o)

      Delete
  14. If life was fair your determination alone would be enough to keep you one step ahead of the rabbits. They are persistent though, and they do dig. At the moment I have just the one... hoping beyond hope that it doesn't find a mate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it does, you're doomed. They can have eight litters a year. By litter #8, the babies are probably just falling out and littering the place up.

      Delete
  15. Too funny, and quite timely, for me, as I just invested in some rabbit fencing. It took me long enough to take this rather basic step, but I'd been relying on dog hair, red pepper, and Liquid Fence and I wanted to up the ante. Sadly, they didn't have the metal mesh in the size I wanted so I went for the nylon. It's a real pain to work with since it catches on absolutely everything. My hope is that the rabbits won't chew though it and will sense that they, too, might get caught in it if they venture near.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you buy the bird netting type stuff? I bought most of my fencing at Home Depot. They had a better selection than Lowe's. Bird netting will drive you nuts. I tried that last year and the bunnies chewed right through it and kept on eating.

      Delete
  16. I blew my entire garden budget on rabbit fencing a couple of years ago and I haven't regretted it for a second. It was buried about 15cm down into the soil at an angle too - I'm not taking any risks. Hilarious post - even though it's not a funny problem. Of course, we shall all be jealous of bunnies forever more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really hope this works! I should have buried it but that would have involved digging into my neighbors property and that wouldn't have gone over well. So glad to meet you!

      Delete
  17. Now Tammy, just tell me you haven't snared the Velveteen Rabbit! You know how he is dancing around to show the "real" bunnies that he has legs now...."when you are loved, your hair is almost rubbed off, you are weak in the joints and very shabby." (Sounds like me.) Say, ya want to send picnic boy my way.....?!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Velveteen Rabbit is always welcome...on my bookshelf! Picnic boy is actually Mr Zesty from the Kraft salad dressing commercials. He is quite delicious, isn't he? Apparently, he offended quite a few Kraft customers. Meanwhile, I'd never bought so much salad dressing in my life. I'm a sucker for a well placed tablecloth. ;o)

      Delete
  18. Our bunny population spends their time playing chicken with our cars coming down our long, gravel road in the dark as well as decimating tasty plants. But none of us has the nerve (or the cold, cold heart) to use our cars to reduce their numbers. So it's Liquid Fence and yelling for me. You, Tammy, are far more industrious and I salute you for that. By the way, thanks for making my morning a whole lot brighter with--as Susie has nicely-titled him--"picnic boy."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr Zesty is quite the eye candy, isn't he?? I would be upset if I squished a rabbit with my car. I don't want them dead. I just want them out of my garden and eating my neighbors funky shrubs.

      Delete
  19. Oh this made me laugh!!! Fab post....and what a fab chap on the picnic blanket!!! Goodness me, if that doesn't work I don't know what will. We don't have rabbits in the garden but they are on the field across the road. Here's hoping your plants stay safe and the bunnykins out!!! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our rabbits have been living in the same spot for years so generations have been dining on my garden. When we had a few mild winters in a row, the population exploded. I was willing to share as long as the damage was minimal but entire plants were devoured last year so I had to take action. My organic salad bar is just too hard to pass up!

      Delete
  20. Can't write....can't think straight....something about 'wabbits'? All I can see is a naked man & tablecloth. Have I died & gone to heaven!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rabbits? Is this post about rabbits? I thought it was about the handsome hunk on the table cloth!

      Delete
  21. What about the watch towers at even paces around the perimeter with flood lights and a warning siren? No really, looks like a foolproof plan to me. When I used to grow runner beans in my back garden and didn't want to poison the slugs and snails I used to take lettuce and cabbage out for them and put it on the opposite side. I put netting round the beans and although it wasn't snail proof it offered a deterrent when there was free grub up for grabs without any hassle. I just don't bother now. If they eat it then I don't grow it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent idea! With flood lights, I'll no longer need an alarm clock, either! :o) There is so much bunny food planted around the front and sides of my house, that they'll stay well fed without ever needing to enter the back garden.

      Delete
  22. Tammy, I think you succeeded! All the bunnies are in my garden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no!! Hopping cross country must have worked up an appetite!

      Delete
  23. Good luck Tammy! I am sure it will work. Despite the fact that one neighbor calls my garden Fort Knox (it is surrounded by a 2-3 foot stone wall on top of which is a 6 foot trellis), last year two rabbits (in my case jack rabbits) were getting in! I stapled some chicken wire to the bottom of the trellis (the equivalent of what you did) and it worked fine. They have not yet made it back in (or so I think!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's funny about your neighbors comment is that Fort Knox is a rather normally guarded Army base that is nothing like the mental image most people conjure up. The bunker where the gold is reportedly stored is so plain, you'd drive right by without realizing what you'd just seen. I think your wire/wall/trellis idea is a great one for keeping out large mammals and determined smaller ones.

      Delete
  24. To think that something so cute could be so destructive in your garden, and take it over as their own buffet station....how awful.
    Since your "well-rested" dogs were not taking care of the problem, Tammy the Warrior Princess came to the rescue again. taking things into her own hands.....good for you. I think you did a great job of barricading the critters out of your property....I hope everything goes well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am definitely a 'take action' type of person. If I think I can solve a problem, I will or at least go crazy trying. I think the bunnies are much smarter than my dogs!

      Delete
  25. The rabbits in my garden play against stereotype - - they ignore the lettuce and make a beeline for plants like Malva Zebrina and Callirhoe (Poppy Mallow).

    But so far, even without fencing, the rabbits have not wreaked too much havoc (except on those two plants).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting because they ignored those plants in my garden. Maybe yours taste like BBQ. ;o)

      Delete
  26. I was sure that I read your hilarious post, and left you a comment, but it's not there...

    BTW would you like to come over and help fortify my back yard? I'm overrun with kitties...and only one very well behaved one is mine. Much as I love cats...the smell is driving me up the wall.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feral cats? Then you won't have any bunnies to worry about! But I'd wear gloves before digging. Maybe once you're out and about this summer, they go away.

      Delete
  27. Good luck with rabbit proofing your garden! If only they weren't so cute! Rabbits are a big problem here, too, so I have rabbit proof areas for certain plants where a fence (or sometimes mesh on the veg beds) keeps them out. But with other flowers I usually find out the hard way if they are a favourite snack or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They chew on my toad lilies every year but those usually recover with no problems. If they were less cute, they'd be easier to dislike. I've even seen them hiding in the garden while the dogs run around the back yard totally clueless.

      Delete
  28. Thanks for visiting Sprig to Twig and leaving a comment. It led me here, where you have done me the further service of making me less resentful of our dear visiting deer.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dear Ms. Farmer McGregor,

    Your efforts are in vain and you will not succeed at keeping us out. As I write this, plans for a tunnel are being reviewed by the bunny council. We've dealt with your kind many times before and find you cute (not as cute as we) but not very bright. Thank you for amusing us with your antics and for the compliments on our enviable lifestyle. You must have a lot to do in your busy life and you know what I'll be doing later so must close.

    Fondly,
    Peter (on behalf of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Peter,

      Meet my special friend - the very hungry cat. Chomp!!

      Tammy

      Delete
  30. Um, rabbits do indeed know how to dig. They live in holes in the ground, after all. You know, as in "down the rabbit hole". So, when they meet the "impenetrable barrier" which you erect, thinking that no rabbit could possibly get through it, they simply dig under it. As quick as a bunny, too, you might say.
    They often dig a decoy tunnel to make you think that you've found their point of entry, but actually the true point of entry is somewhere else.
    "Rabbit Stopper" and "Deer Off" sprays work fairly well, but I've found the most effective thing is to hold your arms straight out, hands shaped like claws, stumbling after them roaring like a lion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am indeed familiar with those phrases but I'm hoping I have unmotivated, slacker bunnies who would rather just eat someone else's plants than dig a hole to get mine. But if I have a bunch of Type A overachievers, I'm screwed. However, I haven't tried roaring like a lion so I'll add that to my arsenal. The rabbits may die laughing so it might be worth it.

      Delete
  31. They will have stopped cavorting now, and be in major Planning and Stretegy meetings, to figure out a way to gain access to your plot ! My money is on a zip wire ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I came home from work I found holes in my garden... It's either my dogs, squirrels who usually leave the garden alone, or the rabbits have already erected the zip line and the fun has begun!

      Delete
  32. We had to fence ourselves in a few years ago to stop the neighbours chickens scatching up the flower bed and pooing on the paths. Cost a fortune. Strangely we now have 15 wild pheasants flying in most days and I don't mind them! Our fence worked ... Good luck with yours.

    ReplyDelete
  33. We had to fence ourselves in a few years ago to stop the neighbours chickens scatching up the flower bed and pooing on the paths. Cost a fortune. Strangely we now have 15 wild pheasants flying in most days and I don't mind them! Our fence worked ... Good luck with yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pheasants but not chickens? Are they better behaved? I've never seen a pheasant. I'm hoping my fence works but more than likely it will just slow them down.

      Delete
  34. We have cottontails here;thankfully they have left the garden alone. We do. to have a many, only those who are smart enough to avoid the fox and hawk. They live in the neighbor's lilac windbreak. Good luck with your fencing. Should work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in a densely packed suburb bordered by woods so our only predators are speeding cars, cats, and hawks. The bunny population all around the DC/northern VA area exploded last year. It will be interesting to see how well they fared in our nasty cold winter this year.

      Delete
  35. For some reasons, bunnies don't decimate my garden, although I see plenty of them. What they *do* however, is scratch nests under my perennials, which then frost-heave in the winter. They are especially destructive of my perennial herbs, whose scent, I guess, masks the bunnies' scents, and are therefore attractive to them. I once lost an entire hedge of 11 year old lavender shrubs this way when bunnies tunneled beneath the branches, exposed the roots to the winter air, and killed them deader than door-nails. Yaaaargh!!!

    I'm looking forward to your successful anti-bunny campaign. For what it's worth... my grandma used to pee in a paper cup and pour it around the edges of her garden to make it smell too powerfully of humans. I guess bunnies didn't destroy her garden... but I can't claim that this was the reason. Gross, but... I thought I would mention it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if I'm as tough as your grandma!! I'd be pretty mad, too, if I lost an entire hedge of lavender to rabbits, too. I'd like to think my fence will keep the rabbits out for good but I know I've just slowed them down. Sigh.... I think they've cut a deal with my dogs, too, which explains why they leave them alone.

      Delete
  36. I tried to leave a comment earlier but it went poof!

    I don't mean to be a bunny downer but I hope 2 feet is high enough. If not you can just tack up more netting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somethings up with my comment section so I need to do a little troubleshooting. If my bunnies are climbers, I'm heading back to the hardware store! Barbed wire may be next.

      Delete
  37. Just make sure that no bunnies or bunny burrows are trapped inside the fence. My next door neighbor is a Haaavard educated doctor and he loves his raaare trees and raaare plants and every time I see him he complains about the rabbits eating his roses. He likes to think they come from under one of my hedges, or a neighbors large grouping of old rhodies, but I think they really come from his back yard. Every time I see him he asks me what I can do with his rabbit problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never found any burrows in my garden. My dogs are at least effective in that manner. I've seen the rabbits coming out from under my neighbors basement for years. Haaavard, you say? Apparently his rabbits are smarter than he is since he can't figure out where they're coming from. The funny part is that he keeps seeking the same source of info for a continuing problem despite not seeing any change. Perhaps he needs to read more Einstein quotes. Einstein might think he's insane. :o)

      Delete
  38. Sounds like a humane plan. I would be doing the very same thing. I think bunnies are cute but I don't want them eating all my plants. Cute photos too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they were less cute it would be so much easier to dislike them. I can't do anything inhumane. That's just not my style.

      Delete
  39. I hope you're bunny barricade works. And I wouldn't be too jealous of the rabbits; I think they got awfully hungry this winter. Winter is when they do the most damage to my garden, gnawing the bark off of (and sometimes girdling) their favorite shrubs. The other thing they cannot resist is woodland phlox. And crocus. However, I have lots of white clover in my lawn, which is their favorite food once it comes in.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Replies
    1. I agree. I wouldn't be surprised if our bunny population is down because of our nasty winter. They've already damaged the base of one of my roses with their gnawing. They haven't touched any of my crocus yet, which is surprising.

      Delete
  41. I contemplated the wire fencing around the bottom of the picket fence they squeeze through, but then they dig under the gates. My secret was to spray yucky stuff on plants (not cayenne pepper)...but I fell ass backward into a better solution. I let the clover grow in the grass. The rabbits prefer it and eat it before my plants. I do net my veg garden though.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I just bought some clover seed! We have clover in our yard but not as much as I'd like so I'm going to reseed. As much as I want to believe the bunnies won't beat my system, I know they will. They can munch all the clover they want. Thanks for this tip!

    ReplyDelete
  43. This year I would really love to be able to eat some of my own strawberries. Our yard is so large that the fencing you used would be a bit pricy on such a large scale, but the gist of your idea is perfect. I just need to create a smaller barrier around those precious strawberries (and maybe my parsley- they like that too). The bunnies can eat the violets instead. I'll put up with a few decapitated violets happily.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting my blog! Feel free to comment on the posts or photos.