June 17, 2012

Inner Struggle...Bunnies in the Garden


Few things in the garden bring me such inner struggle as bunnies.  I want to adore them and gush over their cuteness...

 
But if we're being honest here, their destructive tendencies drive me mad.  They've always had a particular fondness for the black-eyed Susan and coneflower in the front yard.  There is plenty out there so we coexist without much trouble.

In the backyard it's a different story.  We've put rabbit fence along the iron fence to keep them out of the back garden.  It has worked up until recently.  This week the baby bunnies have learned they are able to squeeze through the tiniest of spaces.  Every morning my garden walk consists of surveying the damage of the day.  Yesterday was the last straw...a hyacinth bean vine that was just beginning to fill in and bloom was cut down by the stem at ground level.  Argh!

After a search through the garage, the remaining vines were wrapped in some found screen to protect them but I'm not sure how effective this will be.  What about you?  Do you have any experience with bunnies?  If so, what do you do to encourage them to move along?  Any products you've used with success?  I'd love to hear your thoughts. 







29 comments:

  1. :) I picture the little bunnies slipping through the net and smile. But I understand your frustrations. Some people have put the veggies in planters higher up off the ground with wiring but that won't help you. Here in the desert, it's brutal for bunnies....hawks, snakes, cats....you name it....will eat them. Some people swear by cats. And there may be certain kinds of plants that will deter them from chewing on your edible plants. Good luck!

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  2. Like most wild animals it seems, they are getting more domesticated. I trap and release further away.
    They really love a certain variety of aster I have planted. Haven't bothered the rudebeckia however, which probably needs some pruning. he he. When I was taking the photos of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in OKC on a tripod, I glanced down and noticed a young rabbit cleaning himself not more than a foot from the tripod. He didn't have a care in the world...

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  3. Cat, I share your struggle. The bunnies are adorable and remind me fondly of Peter Rabbit stories. I have had more rabbit damage this year than any other. Our garden is too large to fence to keep them out so I have to coexist with them. If I see them in the garden I put my dogs on them :O). I never understand why they have to eat all these blooms in my garden when they have so many other options in the empty lot next door. Aren't hyacinth bean vines poisonous? What about putting a large plastic snake in your garden to scare them off? Good luck!

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  4. We had too many bunnies one year, and my husband went outside and fired off the air gun. It's just loud, it doesn't actually shoot anything. For months after, any time he stepped out on the patio the yard and gardens would rustle with fleeing rabbits. Hot pepper wax sprayed on new seedlings works. Even hot pepper flakes sprinkled around them, but you have to reapply after rain. For larger, established stuff we just coexist.

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  5. I like our rabbits...and I equally like our coyotes who keep them in balance, singing as they do (when they aren't picking off German Shepards to kitty cats). But they are destructive, esp. to young plantings...even cactus and sotols. I still recall a Christmas morning, so cool and calm, and as I walked around the house, this jackrabbit looked at me, I at it, and it was like "truce day"...about the first day I didn't have the urge to grab a gun or shovel!

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    1. I can relate. I thought we had a truce when I conceded the front to them! I'm definitely feeling the urge to grab a gun or shovel and therein lies my struggle.

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  6. they're cute - and i'm glad i don't garden. :)

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  7. We have lots of bunnies, and I have occasionally lost some plants to their nibbling ways. It's very frustrating. I'm surprised your owls haven't kept them at bay. Have the bunnies eaters departed?

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    1. Yes, Ally. Sadly they have. They are still living in the greenbelt behind our house though. I'm sure they catch their fair share. You know what they say though about multiplying like rabbits!

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  8. Oh...sorry about the damage.
    We have yet to even see a rabbit here. We had them all the time, in our old, urban garden.
    The deer are our biggest pest here.
    I spray with 'Deer Fence' repellent. It says it will repel rabbits as well. Not sure how well it works, though.

    Good luck...

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  9. I'm afraid I'm the one who goes "oh, look a bunny - how cute!"
    Doesnt a snake per day keep the bunny away? Not that I'm siding with snakes all of a sudden ;-)
    Thanks for your sweet comments lately!

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  10. I spray Scoot rabbit repellent, and put chimes in the garden, the sound of chimes scares the rabbit, and I chase them everyday :)

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  11. Deer Fence and Deer Stop, I have heard, repels rabbits, too, as Linda noted. It has a component that smells like coyote urine. You spray it directly on the plant leaves and blooms. Fortunately, when it dries, it is not smelly to humans anymore, else you'd be avoiding your own garden! Have to re-spray every so many days or whenever it rains. It isn't cheap, if you have a large garden to protect, but it works for deer. Hope you find something that works for the destructive rabbits. It really is heartbreaking to work that hard and then have it all ruined in a matter of minutes, cute bunnies or no.

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  12. Thanks for all the suggestions. I feel like there may be some relief to be found out there somewhere!

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  13. In my experience the only solution to rabbits is quantity. Plant more than you need everywhere and let them eat some. Plant two or three vines where only one would suffice. Sometimes that means overcrowding, but too many is better than none I say. Oh, and always keep backup plants in pots!

    Good hunting cats really help with the young ones too.

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  14. I haven't had this struggle with bunnies but I have had it with deer and it reached a point where I just got so frustrated no matter how cute they were. There's only so many plants I was willing to sacrifice.

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  15. Hi Cat thanks for visiting my new blogsite. We don't have rabbits in the wild but i have an unusual experience with my sister's pet rabbit when we were younger. It wasn't cage and just roam inside the house. It is a male and doesn't have a partner, and being a rabbit, i think it thinks its mate is my sister. One day i used my sister's lotion, and the rabbit chased me anywhere in the house making small love bites on my feet and legs, and then when it cannot do that anymore it started to jump and i jumped on top of the chairs and tables, and it chased me with its characteristic sounds. I confess, i got scared, so we don't get pet rabbits anymore for our nephew and niece, hahaha!

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    1. Andrea, I don't blame you one bit! I think I would give rabbits a wide berth too if that was my experience!

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  16. hello Cat, I completly understand how you feel I have the same feelings, the rabbits found my village and garden about 4 years ago, there had been no real sign of them for months last year then this January in one night/day they had eaten several small evergreens I'd grown from cuttings from my mother's garden as she doesn't live there any more I can't replace then, happily one plant has just started to regrow,
    what have I learnt over these years, first babies are worse than adults with rabbits and sheep I read this after I had problems with lambs in my first garden on the islands, they can squeeze through very small gaps and try everything, here I am using chicken wire as they can't get through those small holes, after their destraction in January when I was cutting back prickly plants in late winter I decided to leave the cut twigs to die then I pushed them in around vulerable plants this does seem to have detered them,
    rabbits do not like plants with strong aromas, this explains why they have never touched my herbs so now I am planting smelly plants around/among vulerable plants, they don't like prickly and hairy leaved plants either, it's all a learning curve, good luck, Frances

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  17. Deer Out products have worked best for me. I spray everything I know they like both deer and rabbit..they have a special rabbit out too...of course I net my veg gardens...I have the same dilemma as you...love them but want to wring their cute little necks.

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  18. Cat, my suggestion is also what Alan wrote. I plant more than the critters can eat, unless of course they start bringing the relatives. I lost a pretty mature and expensive weeping Japan Maple due to Walter Rabbit a few years back. Walter must have sired a new batch of bunnies. http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2010/10/10/happy-monday-wabbit-news-flash/ I know you saw this post before so you must remember my frustration.

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  19. back home, the only thing that was foolproof was having a dog in the yard. the coyote urine worked okay for a little while, though.

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    1. You're right, Katina...our dog does deter them. Unfortunately, when left outside for long periods of time he is unhappy ;) Just like any of us. He's funny though. When I spot a rabbit I tell him I see a bunny and he perks up immediately. I'll open the door and he will slowly descend the stairs and stealthy approach the back gate...he loves to hunt them. He's much too old to catch one anymore but he loves the thrill of the hunt.

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  20. Bunnies have always been transient visitors to my garden and never caused much damage but this year a nearby warren means that several plants, including a tall about to bloom 'Peter's Purple' monarda have been cut off at the base or eaten. They've figured out how to eat my plants when the dogs are in the house and are winning the battle. My only hope is the neighborhood cats or a hawk.

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    1. I'm just waiting for them to sample the 'Peter's Purple'...maybe I should be proactive and put screen around that too. They are frustrating little buggers. Thank God for the owls, they must be helping to at least control the population somewhat. We have coyotes too, so that should help.

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  21. Just came back in from watering and found that one of the dogs had EATEN a bunny. Very little left, besides a very satisfied dog. Is your dog a hunter?

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    1. Oh, yes. My daughter and I watched horrified once when Blitzen devoured an entire rabbit. There was NOTHING left...nothing. No bones, nothing. She took a photo...it's around here somewhere. I'd rather not look!

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  22. I can certainly sympathize! Bunnies have squeezed into my fenced off vegetable patch and chewed down every plant that shows growth and potential blossom. I tried shooting them with an airsoft gun... even hit them on the shoulders and in the side. I think the little plastic pellets were too soft... they just stared at me and laughed at my effort!
    It's amazing to see them in the early evening visit my next door neighbor's new lawn... there must be 5 or 6 of them sitting out there, munching away.
    Good luck!
    I HAVE found good bunnies and have written about them:
    http://gardenpathwanderings.blogspot.com/2012/04/good-bunny.html

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  23. No bunnies that I've seen, but that's how I feel about the deer, especially the fawns that are running around now. So cute, but so destructive to gardens.

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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