NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 26, 2012

Tim's Tips: Keep foraging animals away from your yard

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — It would appear that the creatures have begun to find our gardens. In the last week, a number of people have come into the store asking what they can do to protect their shrubs and trees from damage caused by foraging animals.

The deer are eating shrubs. Mice and rabbits are beginning to nibble on the bark of fruit trees. But there are things that you can do to protect your plants. It is better to start before the damage begins, but you can also break the animals of the habit of treating your yard like their personal salad bars.

Deer can be a huge threat to your plants. Even one deer can cause major damage to a shrub in one night. If you know there are deer in your neighborhood or if you have seen them in your yard, you should take steps now to make your plants unappetizing to deer. Almost any broadleaf evergreen is food for a deer. I have always been surprised that deer will even eat holly leaves.

You want to apply a deer repellent. Repellents are generally sprayed onto the leaves of the plant and create a taste that the deer do not like. You may need to apply the repellent at regular intervals for continued protection throughout the winter.

Keep in mind that the more snow we get, the more likely it is that deer will visit your yard for a snack. Snow cover in the woods makes it harder for the deer to find food there. Be prepared and apply your deer repellent now.

Rabbits and mice can also create havoc in your yard. Both creatures will eat the bark of fruit trees and the bark of most ornamental flowering trees. The bark has high amounts of sugar that these animals find attractive as a food source. If they eat the bark all the way around the trunk, the plant won’t be able to take up water and nutrients in the spring. This will cause the plant to die.

You can prevent this by protecting the trunk of your plants with tree wrap. This product comes in several forms. One type is a paper that has a layer of tar in between the layers of the paper. The tar makes the paper taste bad to the animals and they will stop trying to eat the bark. The paper is wrapped around the trunk and held in place with tape. There is also a wrap that is made of plastic. The wrap looks like a tube that has a spiral slice around the entire length of the tube. You measure the length that you need to cover the trunk from the ground to the first set of branches. You cut the tube to that length and then you open one end of the tube and wind it around the trunk. The rigidity of the plastic holds it in place on the trunk of the tree. The thickness of the plastic makes it hard for the animal to chew through.

Animal damage to your plants increases in a winter that is very cold or very snowy. Since we don’t now what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, it is better to prepare now than to wait until hungry animals have caused major damage.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

---

Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.