A rabbit proof garden for happy gardeners

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Introduction.

Tired of your furry friends munching on your precious plants and flowers? Or considering BUYING or have a pet rabbit that you would like to give unmanaged access to your garden? Pet rabbits love being in a rabbit proof garden, able to forage, run, jump and play.

However, if you are a rabbit keeping gardener, they can also be your worst nightmare! Well, in this post, we will be exploring some methods of creating the ultimate rabbit proof garden. That will keep your bunnies safe and secure and let you say goodbye to providing a bunny buffet. So, grab a cup of tea, or coffee, sit back, and we’ll dive into the wonderful world of gardening with rabbits.

The Importance of a Rabbit Proof Garden

Creating a rabbit proof garden is essential to providing a suitable environment for unsupervised free roaming rabbits. Rabbit proofing will prevent rabbits from escaping but not stop them nibbling or destroying plants. Safeguarding plants in a rabbit proof garden, is possible with internal fences and barriers or by using raised beds.

However, it’s not just your plants that need protection because, pet rabbits also need protecting from themselves. KEEPING RABBITS INDOORS or CONFINED OUTSIDE, makes free time in a rabbit proof garden beneficial to their health. However, treating them to an alfresco bunny buffet, of even safe health plants is detrimental to their health!

Because allowing your rabbit to eat substantial amounts of cultivated plants in a rabbit proof garden, can kill your bunny. But the odd wild dandelion, common daisy or clover appearing in your lawn, rabbits can safely nibble.

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My rabbits playground

Rabbit Proof Garden Fences

Rabbit proofing most existing fences is possible, providing they are in good condition. However, boundary fences should, create a 1.83M solid barrier, i.e., walls, close boarded timber, or larch wood panels. But I strongly recommend thoroughly inspecting any boundary fence before starting to rabbit proof fences below ground.

As, rabbits can squeeze through a surprisingly small gap, and are experts in using any weak spot to their advantage. Small gaps, holes and rotting timber will encourage rabbit to chew the fence. Thus, giving them a head start in an escape attempt! Ok rabbit are not prisoners and don’t plan to escape, but they are curious, wood chewing, opportunists.

Therefore, if they find or chew a hole large enough, their curiosity will have you searching for missing rabbits. So, finding and repairing a problem is far better than having to track down an escape artist.

Rabbit proofing fences below ground

Rabbits can and will dig under fences therefore rabbit proofing your boundary fences below ground is essential. But boundary walls built on a concrete footing, will not require rabbit proofing below ground. However, depending on your location and predatory animals in your area. The tops of walls, fences and gates will need extra PREDATOR PROOFING, if you intend keeping FREE RANGE RABBITS.

However, there are three ways to prevent rabbits digging under rabbit proof fences. But for boundary fences I recommend extending the fence 300mm under the ground using plastic coated aviary/cage wire mesh.

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Rabbit Proofing a boundary fence below ground

But if predators are unable to dig close enough to get under your fences, due to paving or tarmac etc. The depth of the wire mesh can reduce to a minimum of 150mm and curved inwards across the trench. The mesh should run around the whole boundary with no gaps, to keep rabbits in and if needed, predators out. However, do not use chicken wire as a cheaper more readily available alternative! Because its thin wire and large mesh will allow determined rabbits and predators to chew through it.

internal garden fences

For internal fences and barriers, galvanised or plastic coated aviary / cage wire mesh gives the best protection. However, chicken wire may be a cheaper alternative in areas of a rabbit-proof garden that you can regularly inspect. Internal fences with a minimum height of 6oomm, will protect boarders, and beds, or restrict rabbits from part of your garden.

But an internal rabbit proof garden fence will also need to prevent rabbits digging underneath. However, the security of a boundary fence is not necessary. So, laying an apron of 300mm wide, well pegged down gage/aviary mesh or paving slabs. Will deter your rabbits from digging under the fence.

illustration-of-a-rabbit- proofed-wire-mesh-fence
rabbit proofing a wire mesh fence
Rabbit proof garden gates

Having a rabbit proof fences will also require a rabbit proof gate allowing you access while keeping your bunny’s contained. Now, having a heavy solid gate may be preferable, but in an internal wire fence with lightweight posts is not practical. Therefore, using a lighter slatted gate wired at the bottom to prevent rabbits chewing the slats, may be the better option.

But a solid gate is preferable in rabbit proof garden boundary fences, where the weight is not a problem. However, if rabbits can dig under the gate, as with an internal fence. Laying a wire or paving slab apron will also stop them digging.

illustration of a rabbit proof gate
How to rabbit proof a gate
Using Frames Raised Beds and Planters

Existing pots and planters you can be protect by constructing 600 mm, high free-standing mesh covered timber frames. Placed in position and secured, if needed, with hooks and eyes, creating a barrier that allows easy access for maintenance.

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3 and 2 sided frames for pot and planters

Three-sided frames for the individual planters adjacent to the straight fence, and two-sided frames for pots in a corner.  However, using raised beds and containers can be a satisfactory alternative for creating a rabbit proof garden. By providing a rabbit safe areas for your flowers and vegetables without the use of fence and barriers. But raised beds and containers or foliage, must be at least 600mm above ground level to prevent rabbits reaching them.

Plant Safety

Plant safety is vital to your rabbits wellbeing! So, take care when choosing plants to include in your garden, and you must never use any garden chemicals. Whereas natural pest controls and fertilizers are safe for bunny’s, and far better for the environment. Some plants that are poisonous to rabbits are commonly in use to deter wild rabbits. So, plant described as rabbit proof or rabbit resistant should have no place in your garden, without taking extra precautions.

Rabbit proof plants are toxic! But to a rabbit the living plant smells bad, and they will not eat them. But your bunny is not safe when the plant dies and sheds its leaves! However, rabbit resistant plants, which are also toxic, do smell enough good to eat, and rabbits may nibble them. But as they don’t taste nice, rabbits won’t eat them, and go to find something more palatable. The problem with plant toxins is, tiny amounts do not have any effect, but build up in a rabbits body.

So repeated small amount over time will eventually make them seriously ill and / or kill them. Hence, poisonous plants behind a fence or barrier, which cannot reached or nibbled, are still a hazard when shedding leaves. Because, dead leaves may lose their smell and taste, but not all poisonous plant varieties leaves, lose their toxins. So, reduce the risk of toxic leaves spreading to rabbit accessible areas. By netting over poisonous plants in autumn, and regularly removing fallen leaves from the garden.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, creating a rabbit proof garden brings numerous benefits for both rabbits and their owners. Not only to ensure the safety and well-being of our long eared hopping companions. But it also provides peace of mind for us as gardeners. By implementing measures like secure fencing and carefully chosen plants, we can create the ideal space for rabbits to thrive.

While allowing us to cultivate a thriving functional garden that will remain intact! So, why not embrace the idea of  rabbit proofing your garden and a haven for rabbits to enjoy the outdoors. While you relax and let them hop, munch and binky to their hearts content.

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