Save Your Plants

It’s often difficult to spot the damage caused by deer, rabbits and other critters until spring, when melting snow reveals chewed bark and missing bulbs in your flower beds. So take some preventive steps now to save your plants from hungry critters.

Squirrels and chipmunks are notorious for digging up newly planted bulbs, while rodents tunnel below the surface, devouring tulips, crocuses and other bulbs they find tasty. To deter digging, cover newly planted bulb beds with old window screens, wire mesh or boards for a month or two, until the soil settles. If you’ve had problems with mice, voles or gophers in the past, plant your bulbs in wire-mesh baskets or use sharp gravel in the planting hole to discourage tunneling animals.

Shrubs and Trees
Mice, voles and rabbits can quickly strip off tender bark, weakening or killing young woody plants. Provide winter protection by shielding the stems or trunks with plastic tree guards or a collar of 1/4-inch-mesh wire netting. Make sure the collar extends 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface and about 2 feet above the usual winter snow depth. Deer cause double damage, stripping bark and breaking branches by rubbing their antlers and feeding on tender buds and evergreen leaves. Repellent sprays can discourage feeding, but you need to apply them early and often, and they may not help if deer get really hungry. For protection against both feeding and rubbing, use metal posts and wire garden fencing around each tree and shrub to create a ring that’s wide and tall enough that deer can’t reach over it.

Photo: via Flickr Creative Commons