Rabbit Damage
A rabbit has chewed on the branch of the bush.

Rabbit damage to your landscape plants may be greater this year than it has in years past. With the continuous snow cover, it has been harder for rabbits to eat what is on the ground, so they walk on top of the snow and eat what they can reach from there, your plants.

What is unfortunate is that at this point, there is not much that can be done. The damage that has happened is irreversible. What is best now is to prune out the branches that have been chewed all of the way around. This is to remove the dead branches that will look unsightly once the leaves emerge this spring.

Now to stop the rabbits from making a feast out of your landscape again, the best route is to install chicken wire fencing around your plants. It is best to bury at least three inches of the fencing underground so that the rabbits will not have a chance to bury under the fencing to get to the plant. You will want to make sure that your fence is tall enough so that when it snows, the rabbits will not be able to walk on top of the snow, over the fence and right to the feast.

When looking at protecting a tree, avoid trunk wraps, these may be a physical barrier that will stop a rabbit from getting to the bark, but it will still harm the tree. Trunk wraps will cause large temperature fluctuations to happen in the tree which can cause cracks in the bark and potentially the hardwood of the tree. With cracks in the bark, it is an open invitation for other problems like insects or disease. A tree wrap only replaces one problem for another.

No other option has been proven effective to stop the rabbit feeding on landscape plants. So, if there is rabbit damage already to your plants, that damage will need to be pruned out. For next year, a chicken wire fence will be the best option to try to keep the rabbits from enjoying the buffet of plants in your landscape.

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