It looks like my lilac bu... #170386

Asked March 16, 2014, 4:38 PM EDT

It looks like my lilac bush has been chewed up by rabbits this winter. It has never happened before so I don't worry about covering the base. What can I do now to help the lilac stay alive? It is right outside my bedroom window and I love to smell the flowers! Any suggestions?

Hennepin County Minnesota

Expert Response

Wrapping, painting, or trimming will not correct the damage done. How or if your tree will survive depends on the amount of damage done and where. If the trunk of the tree has been completely girdled (bark chewed off all the way around), the future of your tree may be bleak. If it has not been girdled, you need to give your tree a lot of care this year. Be careful not to nick the trunk, use mulch instead of grass for several feet in all directions under the branches, and provide plenty of water—at least 1 to 2 inches per week in natural rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Branches that have been girdled may be trimmed off beyond that point as they will die anyhow. Should your tree survive, it is extremely important that you protect the trunk next winter with hardware cloth (it looks sort of like a cross between chicken wire and window screen and can be bought at hardware stores). The protection should go as far up the trunk as you can. Remember that rabbits can run on top of the snow and then stand on their hind feet to browse. Online Resources: Internet Center for Wildlife
Jane Starman Replied March 16, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

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