Rabbit Proof Garden + 1 Happy Bunny

rabbit proof garden

If you have read my first post, you know that I needed a rabbit-proof garden quickly. In this post, I explain what I needed to do, how it was accomplished, and why it was necessary.

The methods I will use are based on the European wild rabbit, the origin of most pet rabbits. That is now wild in many parts of the world, due to European colonisation.

So, they will be effective to keep pet rabbits in, or wild European rabbits out of your rabbit proof garden. But must be the rabbit’s side of any fence.

Table of Contents

Now, there are two reasons for my rabbit Babe to have a rabbit proof garden. Firstly, I want to stop her escaping. Thankfully, the fence is secure, and it would take her some time to tunnel her way out.

The second and more important to me, is to stop her destroying plants in my recently refurbished garden. Also, some of my plants and shrubs could be toxic and immediately harmful, so they needed to take priority.

Rabbit Proof Garden Beds and Planters

Most of my plants are in pots on the patio and one side of the lawn, forming borders. Additionally, there are two planters on the grassed area at the bottom of my plot. Plus, there is a small shrub in the lawn.

However, I am going to start with a recessed raised bed between my shed and the garden fence.

my garden before the rabbit proofing
My Garden Before Rabbit Proofing

If the top of a raised bed is 600 mm or more above ground level with no overhanging foliage. Or the foliage is over 600 mm above ground. There is no need for extra rabbit proofing.

But as in most cases, raising my flower bed was totally impractical. So, I constructed a wooden frame using 50x25mm, covered with wire mesh. Then, positioned on top of the edging, and secured it with wood screws to my shed and the fence.

illustration of a recessed raised bed
Rabbit Proofing a recessed raised bed

However, the small shrub in the lawn is toxic and difficult to make safe. Hence, with no place in a rabbit-proof garden, I will take the easy way out and remove it.

Now Babe was having fun trying to help with all I was doing. Actually, Babe’s “help” and managing her is hindering progress.

I currently have planters either side of a central arch. as a border between my patio and lawn. So, I created a rabbit proof fence using trellis and cage mesh to either side of the arch. Then fitted a gate under the arch, separating the patio from the lawn and protecting one side of my planters.

Now to one side of the lawn is a larch panel fence. But, to the other is the top of a 6 metre long retaining wall, at ground level, inside the garden fence. Currently, covered with slabs for my planters to stand on. These will need the protection of a fence.

As this fence has to give me easy access to maintain the pots and planters. I will use 2 metres long x900 mm high paling panels and cover them with mesh. Then form slots on the sides of the posts to slide the panels into, making them removable.

With the proofing below ground, provided by the wall and the slabs, my plants bordering the lawn are safe. But should I need to confine Babe to the lawn, she may dig under the gate to reach the patio

Rabbit Proof Garden Gate

Now I could have removed the turf around and under the gate, laid mesh and replaced the turf. Alternatively, I could have extended the patio slabs under the gate and onto the lawn. However, Babe may attempt to tunnel under the slabs.

So, again I am taking the easiest option. This method may be quick and easy, but the entire mesh must be in firm contact with the soil. If it is not, a running rabbit will snag a claw{s) and dislocate or break its toe(s).

First, I cut the grass as close to the soil as possible. Then, using wire tent pegs, tightly peg down cage mesh under the gate. As shown in the illustration below. Now Babe will be unable to dig under the gate, and the grass growing back will hide the wire.

illustration of a rabbit proof garden gate
How I rabbit proofed my gate

Job done, but I had a minor problem, this gate would normally be open. If closed unintentionally, the gate would not allow her access between the house and the garden. But I plan to solve this problem later with a tunnel. 

Finally, to complete the protection of my plant I will use removable frames. To defend the planters at the bottom of the garden and the so far unprotected side of my patio pots.

Now, being able to confine Babe in the rabbit proof garden made the job easier. Completing the frames faster on the patio, without Babe’s help.

After constructing 600 mm, high free-standing frames using 50 x 25 mm Tantalised timber. Three-sided frames for the individual planters adjacent to the straight fence, and two-sided frames for pots in a corner. I covered the sides with mesh and placed them in position. Securing them with hooks and eyes

illustration of removable frames for protecting pot and planters
3 and 2 sided frames for pot and planters

It had taken me four days to protect Babe and my plants from each other. While allowing easy access to maintain my pots and planters. Now I had to make sure she could not escape by digging under the larch panel fence.

Rabbit Proof Garden Fences

Rabbit proofing most existing fences is possible, providing they are in good condition. Heavy gauge wire fences with a mesh no more than 50 mm, i.e. chain link. Should prove an effective barrier to rabbits.

But I strongly recommend closely inspecting any fence before starting the rabbit proofing below ground. As, on closer inspection I have found a problem with mine.

Behind my two storage units, the bottom of the larch wood panels had gone soft. Therefore, she found them very easy to quietly gnaw without alerting me. But as they are my neighbours’ and there is no hole yet! I am not about to replace the panels.

Now I could have just pushed my two garden stores back to the boundary and blocked her access. But I decided to fit a gravel board along the bottom of the fence. This would help, first with rabbit proofing and later a tunnel.

Gravel board is 150 x 25 mm timber for the panels to sit on and, help prevent the fence rotting. I fitted the board along the whole fence, on my side of the posts.

It would not stop the panels rotting; it was too late for that anyway. However, it would stop Babe from chewing holes through the bottom of the rotting fence. While providing a better fixing than the larch panels for securing the cage mesh.

Rabbit Proofing fences Below Ground

As rabbits only dig down 150 mm, that is the minimum depth you need to wire a fence underground. So, after digging a trench, a spade width and depth along the fence line.

Then using a staple gun to fix the cage mesh to the gravel board. While laying it down and across to the bottom of the trench. I only had to backfill the trench to complete the job and stop Babe from digging her way out.

This method will also stop rabbits digging under your sheds, greenhouses and other similar garden structures.


Now, Babe loved to run between the garden stores and along the fence to the bottom of the garden. Running back up the middle of the lawn, she arrived back on the patio via the arch.

On completion of the rabbit proof garden, the patio fence, gate (if closed) and rabbit proof pots would block her way. Not only stopping her fun, but more importantly, taking away her only viable bolt hole.

I solved this problem by forming a tunnel, using gravel board and surplus wood from the pot frames. With a rabbit house as a gated exit to the garden, providing room for her to turn around when closed.

Now, Babe could still have her fun, and I could close the gate and the tunnel. Thus, keeping her out of harm’s way while I maintained the garden.

But more importantly when she has no access via the gate, she will still have a viable bolt hole.

Now, I hope this post has given enough information to help you keep happy rabbits free rein in your garden. Or protect your garden from the destructive raids of their wild relatives.

But beware, make a mistake or leave a weak spot and rabbits will quickly take advantage of it!

While working in the garden I put an upturned bucket by my paling fence. Unwittingly, giving her enough height advantage to get over the fence. So, thirty seconds later I was picking her out of my planters.

Rabbits are stronger than you think, they will easily push or pull open an incorrectly latched gate. Or move a frame to get to a planter, if you forget to secure the hook as I did.

I’m dealing with pet rabbits (escape artists) and these little true events I find laughable. But if I had been dealing with determined hungry wild rabbits, (professional pillagers), raiding my vegetable patch. Because of an unlatched gate, would I be laughing?

However, if you have a question, or a problem, contact me via the site, I will be happy to help.

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