This may sound more like a sit-com character’s [no pun intended] hair-brained scheme, or the fever dreams of a suburban fool, but I’m asking this in all seriousness. It just seems to me that the age of the Great American Lawn may be on the wane, and many of our teeming millions of homeowners – be they stressed-out and overworked young careerists, or aging, soon-to-retire Baby Boomers – who are unhappy with the demands of lawn care would welcome cheap, environmentally friendly, easy-maintainance alternatives more in keeping with the changing prerogatives of our times.
Is it possible to have a decent-looking lawn that is kept in check by a warren of cute widdle bunny rabbits, or would you end up with an ugly, scraggly ex-lawn that is nibbled to the dirt in patches, grows unchecked in others, and has holes and tunnels running throughout?
Let’s assume optimal conditions: a stone perimeter wall deeply set into the ground and running fully around the, say, one-acre property with gated access (so that no rabbits can escape and no four-legged predators can get in), a goodly number of shade trees and bushes breaking up the homogenousness of the lawn and offering the rabbits cover from winged predators, a fountain or fish pond for water, a truckload of dirt or clay dumped in a corner where they can dig out a home, and zoning conditions that permit a fair degree of latitude with respect to landscaping choices and small-scale animal husbandry.
What would be the optimal ratio of rabbits to acreage? Given that rabbits tend to breed like, well, rabbits, let’s further assume that our yardwork-averse homeowner is prepared to do some snaring or hunting and cultivates a taste for Hasenpfeffer.
Would we get similar results with a coop’s worth of free-range chickens instead? They can get by on mostly grass and bugs, can’t they? (And they couldn’t really fly away either, could they?) Bird flu notwithstanding, I can think of three benefits WRT chickens: the eggs, their keeping insects in check, and, if you have a rooster, a 365-days-a-year alarm clock that won’t let you down in the event of a power failure. OTOH, this option would definitely be limited to those living in the sticks…