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16/12/2013 at 12:13

I really need to know some plants/shrubs that my rabbits will leave alone. I have two domestic rabbits that have the run of the garden and then go in their hutch at night. Ive had them for 6 years and over this time I have spent a countless amout of money replacing my plants that theyve killed. Please bare in mind they have had a go at pretty much everything apart from my rhododendrons which I dont like anyway but still. They have even killed two small gunnera I planted last year, two clematis and a honeysuckle. Ive tried fencing an area off for them to play but then they just dug holes in my lawn. Theyre like machines. And to top it off they chewed my foxgloves down, which are poisonous. Ive considered giving them away but I just cant bring myself to do it!

Please help!!

16/12/2013 at 12:25
Can you provide them a restricted run - as you are discovering, rabbits and gardens don't mix
16/12/2013 at 12:26

Brambles, nettles, ivy - those are about the only things they leave alone in my garden! Most shrubs are OK, just put one of those spiral guards around the stems. Daffodils survive, and snowdrops. Heucheras get nibbled then left, and hardy geraniums get their tops eaten off in spring but soon recover. Primroses and cowslips aren't touched.

It's wild rabbits in my garden - yours may have more sophisticated tastes!

16/12/2013 at 12:35

Do you give the rabbits any food directly, either into or around their hutch?   Like us, they'll eat favoured foods first so if you give them lots of food they like they'll be less inclined to devour your ornamental plants.  Worth experimenting with commonly available 'weeds' like groundsel and dandelions first but even buying prime rabbit food will probably be cheaper and certainly less depressing than watching your garden plants being eaten!

As for plants they won't eat - most will either be poisonous (like the foxgloves!!) or thorny/tough (like holly) - neither ideal solutions to your predicament.  As for the foxgloves, rabbits are supposed to know what's good to eat and what's not but clearly some are better at it than others!

Hope you find a solution!

16/12/2013 at 13:18

Could you not create them a safe run with a mesh down over the grass to prevent them from digging it up / eating the grass roots? Something you can pick up and move around the lawn easily enough so that it has chance to recover?

01/01/2014 at 16:57
Thank you for your comments. I have tried creating a run for them but apart from my lawn that they dug holes in I could only put it on my patio and I can't imagine that would be very pleasant for them. Although creating a run and putting mesh down on the grass is a good idea actually. I might have to try that in summer. In winter I don't really bother because all the plants die back and the shrubs lose their leaves but it's spring/summer when they become a problem when all my perennials are destroyed before they can even grow as they eat the new growth. I would feel bad having them in a run really as for the 6 and a half years I have had them, they have always had the run of the garden but think it's about time I put my foot down! After all it's my garden, not theirs! Cheers for the idea.
01/01/2014 at 17:12
And yes, I put their food in their hutch when I get up in the morning, then let them out before I go to work. So they aren't hungry when I let them out. Don't know whether it's just greed or what with them. They are fed top of the range dry rabbit food and also cabbage and occasionally sliced carrots. They eat more than I do! So they really have no reason to then eat my plants
01/01/2014 at 18:17

It's what they do Ryan, hop a few steps, eat something, hop somewhere else, eat something. It's a bunny life

02/01/2014 at 09:52

Ryan - nut's right I'm afraid. Just because they're domestic it doesn't change what they basically do. They'll have a go at most things. When I lived rurally the only things rabbits left alone were snowdrops and daffodils.  Shrubs and climbers which had a physical barrier to let them get established were fine once they got enough maturity to cope with some nibbling but perennials didn't stand much of a chance - they had a go at everything when it poked it's head above the ground. I think the only way to keep plants completely safe is to have them in high raised beds which they can't jump up onto, or else confine the bunnies to a very sturdy run.

02/01/2014 at 13:52

You can make a run on grass. Fence it with chicken wire which you bury a foot down, bending the chicken wire at the bottom of the trench outward toward the direction they are burrowing.

They will still attempt to burrow into or out of the enclosed area, but bending the wire in the direction of burrowing, they will meet the edge of the buried wire and stop.

This method is widely used by gamekeepers and is very effective. 

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