Stop rabbits with fencing, not distasteful
What can I put in my garden that rabbits don't like to
eat, or will keep them away?
Bunnies don't usually nibble silk flowers or stone statuary.
Everything else is fair game. Even those that rabbits usually avoid
-- herbs with fragrant leaves such as lavender and sage -- may be
sampled or even browsed to the ground when rabbits are so many that
food is scarce.
Scare tactics are only as good as the danger they represent.
Scarecrows must be moved or changed regularly, even daily, and must
have some relationship with a real threat. Rabbits so accustomed to
people that they can live beneath a deck you use every day are not
going to be frightened by human scent on hair clippings or urine.
Even the effect of fox or coyote urine will diminish if those
scents aren't renewed regularly and if the animal itself never
The best bet for saving gardens from animal damage is to trap
and remove the animals or fence the garden. Fortunately for those
who garden for aesthetics, rabbits are short and can be deterred by
fences and cages only 12 or 18 inches high.
I want to plant something to hide a fence. Some of the
area is in part shade, some is in sun.
Old fashioned snow mound spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei),
Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) leatherleaf viburnum
(Viburnum x rhytidophylloides, varieties such as
'Alleghany'), and beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) make attractive
backgrounds, relatively quickly. Three are effective screens even
in winter, the first two because their branches are spaced closely
enough to seem solid from a distance even when leafless. The third
holds its foliage through winter, until the next spring's growth
pushes it off. All are tall enough to hide a four foot fence, and
the last two can hide even an eight foot fence -- although that's
also a problem, in that leatherleaf viburnum and beauty bush are
ultimately very big shrubs, 12 to 20 feet tall.
As you plant to hide an object, be sure you know what bothers
you about it. If you don't like the look of patterned wire, then
anything leafy should alleviate that annoyance. If the straightness
of the fence is what rankles, don't plant your screen in a line but
in strategically placed clumps. If what you hate is painted wood
disrupting the evergreen and snowy look of winter, then place your
camouflage where it does the most from winter vantage points, using
shrubs with winter color, such as the reddish brown twigs of spirea
or bright green twigs of kerria.
My kind of mulch...
I like to use: shredded pine bark, shredded hardwood, composted
woody fines, andtriple shredded in bulk . In bags they tend
to be called: Pine Soil Conditioner, Organic Soil Conditioner, and
Mini Pine Bark.
These very finely shredded mulches made from bark or aged wood
are what I use for perennial beds when fallen leaves, cocoa hulls
or compost are not available. Because they are dark and fine in
texture, they make more attractive backgrounds for perennials than
lighter, chunkier materials. Since they break down more quickly
than bigger, woodier chips, they do more, more quickly, to improve
the soil. The finely shredded pine bark is, as the bagged product
name indicates, a very good additive to heavy soils because its
high lignin content means long-lasting aerification. These mulches
can be used throughout the landscape.
Green thumbs up
to you who still appreciate beauty despite disappointment.
Although it was a terrible winter, leaving scorched foliage and
bare spots in the garden, you are not focusing on the losses to the
exclusion of the spring show. You know that May flowers don't wait
around for grumps to appreciate them. In perhaps only one year in
four do magnolias escape frost to look so good for so long as they
have this spring. This year's late start has also given us a bulb
display that's more concentrated than usual.
Green thumbs down
to planting codes in new developments that deliberately or
indirectly restrict tree species diversity. Especially now as crews
remove trees killed by emerald ash borer, leaving whole blocks
bare, we should strive for diversity so our children won't suffer
such neighborhood-wide losses. If your community specifies type of
trees to be planted, lobby to lengthen the lists. If it mandates
very large tree size, overturn this unwise policy -- too few
species are available in the 14-foot or 4-inch trunk size.
Originally published 5/3/03