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.
Six weeks later, there is still storm recovery activity ongoing in my neighbourhood. It is simply amazing, beyond words, how much damage the derecho caused in our region of Ontario. Everywhere you look there are uprooted or broken trees. A few days after the storm our two-year-old grandson walked through our neighorhood pointing out all the “broken trees.” After the first few, the novelty wore off. Obviously, he did not recognize the fact that this was not normal.
Hazeldean Woods, Post Storm
Hazeldean Woods is a portion ofNCC (National Capital Commission) property we are fortunate to live near. We frequent this beautiful, wooded, parkland setting lots, especially with our grandchildren. On our first post-storm visit we were devastated by the damage; all four of the extensive trails were impassible….
Storm Recovery Efforts
We have been back there a few times since the storm. Each time we are able to navigate through more of the trails. Today’s trip was almost unrecognizable due to the recovery efforts, AKA lack of trees. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures, shocked at the changes. Although it is great the work is being done, (I did not expect it to happen this soon due to the low priority of the area) the changes made it almost surreal. The trails are now passable, but lots of work still needs to be done. Trees scheduled for future removal are all marked with a big red X. Others have been cut down, with logs neatly stacked.
Mother Nature’s Plan
When so many old trees are destroyed and removed, is this Mother Nature’s plan for renewal? The amount of sunlight currently pouring into my neighbourhood woodland trails makes me wonder if new trees will soon be growing in their ancestor’s former homes.
This rainy weather is good for ducks, as my mother used to say, or for overseeding your lawn. A “Weed and feed” product is also best applied in cool, wet weather, but not at the same time as the seed.
There are a few new products on the market to fix bare patches too. They come in a 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 mixture of composed/amended soil, seed, and fertilizer. If your lawn is patchy with bare, grassy, and weedy spots, try one of the mixed products. I have had success with both of these. They do not contain a weed-killing ingredient, so you will have to treat the weeds six weeks later.
There are several “weed and feed” products out there. On established (not patchy) lawns I prefer to weed first, then feed. Otherwise, I tend to feed the weeds.
Another job for cool, wet, spring weather is fertilizing your trees. I have three evergreen trees I planted as tiny seedlings when each of my three sons was born. They were originally planted in my backyard. As they reached about four feet in height, I asked the owner of the building behind us if I could plant them in his yard. He agreed, so now I get the privacy but still have space for a garden in my yard…
To fertilize my trees I use spikes that get pounded into the ground around the tree’s drip line. One spike contains enough fertilizer for every 2 inches of tree diameter. There are many varieties on the market. Be sure to choose the proper spike for the tree(s) you want to feed.
The weather here is going to be cool and rainy for a few more days. With it too muddy for work in myclients’ gardens, I will get these chores done at home. If it is cool and rainy where you are, use this weather to get your overseeding and fertilizing done.