Nardozzi: Fencing out Thumper

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(NARDOZZI) Is it me, or are there a lot of bunnies out there this year? I know they reproduce, well, like rabbits, but I can’t remember so many hopping around my yard before. They are cute, especially the young ones, but I know what they’ll do if they get in the garden. Couple the abundant bunny population with the usual woodchuck gangs and the roaming deer, and you’ve got yourself a 4-legged free-for-all. I’m all for encouraging wildlife, but when it comes to my garden I don’t like sharing!

The best solution for all these critters – and the occasional neighborhood dog that loves to cut through my property – is a fence. Now, I could do the stockade fence look, but that’s a bit over the top, so I use wire and plastic fencing. It works fine. You just have to build the fence the right way.

It is possible to fence out rabbits and woodchucks pretty successfully. The key is starting early. Once these critters find a patch of greenery they like, they’ll work hard to return to it. It’s a classic case of what they don’t know about won’t tempt them.

I use green plastic coated, 3-foot tall wire mesh fencing to keep rabbits and woodchucks out of the veggie and berry patches. Just be sure to get wire fencing that has small holes. I made the mistake of getting fencing one year with large holes, and the bunnies hopped right though it. Boy, did I feel stupid.

To ensure the rabbits and woodchucks don’t tunnel under the fence, dig the bottom of the fence into the soil. Here’s how. Bend the last foot of the fence at a right angle pointing away from the garden. Dig the lawn or soil, and bury the bent part of the fence a few inches below the surface. Cover with mulch, soil, or lawn. When the woody or bunny comes to the fence, they’re natural inclination is to dig under it. However, they hit the bent piece of wire and go somewhere else.

Deer are another story. The fence has to be 8 feet tall, or build two shorter fences spaced 4 to 5 feet apart, so they can’t jump it. You can also try an electric fence. Once the deer get shocked a few times in spring, they tend to stay away from the fence and your garden. Some gardeners have had success running mono-filament fishing lines across paths deer like to take. The deer can’t see the line but sense something in front of them, and they go elsewhere.

If you’re interested in trying repellents, here’s how to use them. Whether it’s a homemade hot pepper spray or commercial rotten egg mixture, the key is to spray often and rotate the types you use, so the animals don’t get used to any one scent.

So, with a little forethought, you, Bambi, Thumper, and Woody can all coexist in your yard together.

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