A Bite Here, and a Bite There ...

We know that wild things frequent our yards. Their presence is especially obvious in winter.

Footprints dot new-fallen snow. The brown of a rabbit’s fur, or a deer’s tawny hide, are easily spotted against a white snow backdrop. We might even welcome the sight of these creatures, to remind us that life continues during the frozen months.

Those feelings might change in spring, when we discover how much damage the four-footed herbivores have done to our trees and plantings.

Animals eat the stems and bark of many plants, and sometimes feast on the insides, too. The damage can be especially bad during harsh winters when food is scarce.

Spring cleanup around the yard is a good time to check for animal damage to plants. When it’s discovered, act quickly to get the affected tree or shrub ready for growing season.

If you find a few chewed-on limbs, prune them down to the nearest branch fork.

More work is in order if an entire plant is damaged. Trim back all excess growth to help the plant conserve energy. Be sure to prune before the buds open. Once the plant reawakens and begins growing, fertilize nearby soil for extra nourishment.

If you want to prevent further animal damage, consider applying a repellent spray on landscape plants. Use protective wrap or metal mesh to safeguard trees. All are available at home and garden stores.

Chances are you haven’t actually witnessed wildlife gnawing on your prized plants. Most animals feed at night.

Still, you know they’re out there. Sometimes we’re glad to see them; other times, less so. Our feelings can change about the creatures we share our yards with. Perhaps it all depends on the season.

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