Easy Fence to Keep Bunnies Out
Rabbits are a common garden nuisance, and in some locations they can do enough damage to be considered a serious pest. During the growing season, rabbits will gladly feast on a wide variety of vegetables and flowers, and in colder weather they damage shrubs and bushes by gnawing on twigs and buds. Fortunately, an effective rabbit fence is inexpensive and easy to construct.
Fence Height Requirements
You do not need a high fence to keep most rabbits out, and a shorter fence -- especially if it is short enough to step over -- will make it much easier for you to access your garden. A 2-foot-high fence is adequate for ordinary cottontail rabbits, but in the western United States you might need 3 feet of height to keep out jackrabbits. The best material for the rabbit fence is metal because it does not decay and because rabbits cannot chew through it.
Wire Mesh Construction
The most inexpensive option for a rabbit fence is a product known as chicken wire or poultry netting. This is made of thin galvanized wires that are woven together to form 1-inch hexagonal openings. Poultry netting is notoriously flimsy, though, and a determined rabbit could eventually chew through the thin metal wires. A far more reliable product is half-inch hardware cloth, which has thicker galvanized wires that are welded into a mesh of half-inch by half-inch squares. Perhaps the best option, if you can find it, is rabbit fencing, which is specifically designed to keep rabbits out of gardens. Rabbit fencing uses sturdy 16-gauge wire, and the openings are small at the bottom and gradually increase in size toward the top.
Posts for the Rabbit Fence
You need to attach your fencing material to posts that are anchored in the ground. You want to avoid digging post holes because this is the most laborious part of any fencing job. Sturdy metal posts allow you to drive them into the ground without any digging. Metal posts with a cross-section shaped like the letter T, known as T-posts, are strong, widely available and reasonably priced. You can easily and safely pound them directly into the ground with a standard pounding tool that fits over the top of the post. Sink the posts deep enough so that the flat anchor plate is fully buried in the soil, and space them about eight feet apart.
Attaching the Fencing
T-posts usually come with a generous supply of metal clips that you use to attach the fencing to the posts. After the posts are in the ground, hold the fencing up to the posts and securely fasten it by wrapping the clips around the wires and bending the ends of the clips to keep them in place. Two clips is sufficient for a 2- or 3-foot fence. If persistent rabbits attempt to burrow under the wire, you might need to bury the bottom of the fence or place your posts closer together to the keep the bottom of the fence more taut.
Bending the bottom of the fencing out at an angle and burying it so the angled part is below ground level may discourage rabbits from digging their way into the garden. Ideally, the buried portion should be 3 to 6 inches below ground level for maximum effectiveness. Although this requires more digging on your part, the end result will be more effective than a fence that ends at ground level.
Joseph West has been writing about engineering, agriculture and religion since 2006. He is actively involved in the science and practice of sustainable agriculture and now writes primarily on these topics. He completed his copy-editing certificate in 2009 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California-San Diego.