Chewed bark on shrubs and trees spells trouble

Have you noticed chewed bark on the branches of your shrubs and trees this spring? That’s not good and signifies that they are in trouble. Those adorable rabbits, majestic deer and their furry friends can cause lots of damage to your garden plantings. Even death.

If the tree or shrub has the bark chewed all the way around the branches or trunk, the plant will most likely not survive. However, if only a portion of the trunk or branch circumference reveals chewed bark, you may be able to salvage the plant. Cut the plant back severely, almost to ground level and wait.

For example, this shrub rose had lots of bark missing from its lower branches, but there were patches of healthy bark still intact…

chewed bark
shrub rose with some chewed and some intact branches

To rectify the damage, I cut all branches back to 8 inches from the ground. Three weeks later, this is the result. Isn’t nature amazing?

chewed bark
rejuvenated shrub rose

Other similarly damaged shrubs I encountered in this same client’s garden were this weigela and ninebark. The stems of the weigela were almost totally stripped of their bark, you can see how white the stubs are. I am pleasantly surprised to see they are both showing signs of recovery:

chewed bark
weigela recovering from chewed bark
chewed bark
recovering ninebark

If you live in a rural area where furry critters visit your garden searching for food in the winter, consider wrapping the tasty trunks and stems of your plants next fall, before the snow falls. There are many products available for this purpose.

You don’t have much to lose if your shrubs or trees have suffered a similar fate this past winter. Cut them back and cross your fingers!

Bunnies: Beware of Disturbing Them When Gardening!

While weeding a large garden last week, my son and I came across a burrow of bunnies.  Fortunately, I was on my hands and knees, pulling weeds out from around the base of a lilac tree when I saw something move in the dirt, otherwise, I might have accidentally hurt the four or five tiny bunnies tucked into a hole (burrow) at the base of the tree.  They were only a few inches long, with no hair.  The only way I could tell they were rabbits was by their long feet and the shape of their ears…

As soon as I (accidentally) touched their hiding spot, they started to scramble around…


Within a few moments though, the clumps of fur were back on top of the burrow, hiding them from sight.  I put some weeds back in place around them to protect them from predators, as well as hot sun or drenching rain…

My son wanted to take them home, but I convinced him that they still needed their mother.  He googled some information and discovered that the mother rabbit will return to check on them and feed them every 24 hours by standing over the burrow.  Perhaps they were scrambling for the top of the hole when I disturbed them, thinking I was their mother returning for a feeding!

My client promised to keep an eye on the bunnies; I am curious to see how long it takes for them to become independent.  

Perhaps I can put them to work helping me keep the weeds down LOL.