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.
How do You Know if Your Plant will Survive?
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…
To rectify the damage, using a heavy-duty lopper, I cut all branches back to 8 inches from the ground. Three weeks later, this is the result. Isn’t nature amazing?
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:
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!
Preventing Chewed Bark on Branches
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. Be sure to get tall ones as you have to ensure they are above the snow line. Or, you could keep adding smaller ones after each big snowfall.