Rabbits And Garden Plants: My War With Summer Bunny Rabbits

By Bonnie Grant | June 26, 2020
Image by NickBiemans
by Bonnie Grant
June 26, 2020

I love bunnies. They are adorable, cuddly looking creatures that symbolize Easter and childhood books like Peter Rabbit. But I don’t love them in my garden. They are now on my list of enemies and have done considerable damage to my landscape. The sneaky little things have proven to best me in spite of my best efforts. This is war.

Rabbit Garden Troubles

The word on the street is that a previous neighbor kept rabbits and then got sick of them and let them out. That is how a fully black and a black and white pair became the scourge of the street. It all started innocently enough. I would see them as I was out doing chores and they just seemed to nibble on the longer parts of the grass. No big deal, just less to mow and they were charming. Slowly, insidiously, the rabbit damage became apparent. They weren’t just eating grass, they were expanding their palates, just at night when I wasn’t watching.

The first signs of rabbit garden troubles were some vegetables. Entirely eaten young plants that, at first, I chalked up to cutworms. Next, some new little blueberries had their budding shoots removed like a butcher’s chop. The last straw was with my sown from seed, and babied for two years, young passion vines. One day they were there and the next they weren’t. It took TWO years to get them out in the garden and they were just gone! I was incensed. It was time to find the culprit.

I’m no GI Jane but, yes, I ordered night vision binoculars. I started out skulking in the house by the window in the evening, but by bedtime I had seen nothing. It was time to change my sleep schedule and stay awake longer. Patrolling the garden at night became a ritual, but one that just developed into insomnia and produced nothing profitable. Until one fateful night when I saw the fuzzy devils. They were merrily indulging in my garden, with their innocent twitching whiskers and beguiling big eyes.

Managing Rabbits in Summer

I had now verified the cause of the damage but needed a plan to stop the issue in its cute little tracks. I couldn’t kill them, and I had no traps. What could I do? Obviously, I needed to control the rabbits, and garden plants were in need of protecting. The garden must become a fortress. Plug up any holes in the fence line, put cages around my bushes and trees, plant decoy plants, spray rabbit repellent. I was vigilant but to no avail. The bunnies still found their way in, possibly by tunneling (do bunnies tunnel?).

There is a saying that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” There is also a quote that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I didn’t want to become insane, yet I didn’t feel stronger. It was time for a mental health shift. It was time to make friends with the summer bunny rabbits.

So, I now plant enough for all of us, rabbits included. I try to choose plants that rabbits won’t eat outside of the fence. I still spray, I still make little enclosures, but I am at peace with the fact that the rabbits have won. I have retired the night vision goggles and I go to bed content with the fact that I am feeding these one-time house pets and I am serene. The summer garden still grows!

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