Protect Trees from Rodents and Sun Injury
Sunscald is an injury prevalent in the prairie sections of the country. It appears as dead sunken areas of bark on the trunks of trees particularly on the south and southwest sides.
Exposed trunks of fruit trees, especially apple and pear, and some ornamental trees such as the mountain ash, suffer from this condition. Apparently the injury occurs in late winter.
Day temperatures above the freezing point followed by below-freezing nights cause damage to the wood on the exposed side of the tree. Most damage occurs on the southwest side of the trunk.
This kind of damage can be lessened if young trees are trained so they branch low to the ground. Growing mountain ash in a clump form instead of to a single trunk aids in lessening sunscald injury.
Growing shrubs near the base of susceptible trees assists in protecting tender bark.
Painting trunks with white paint is another “old-timers” method followed.
Rodents can do considerable harm to ornamental trees and shrubs during winter months. Lawns are also scarred by the burrowing activities of these animals. Field mice migrate into a cultivated area especially if their regular feeding areas become covered with heavy snows.
As their regular source of food is cut off, they build runways to favorite trees and shrubs and feed on the soft bark of these plants near ground level.
Protect from Animals Rabbits often completely girdle trees and shrubs and in that way, kill them. Rabbits feed at snow level, so if the snow is drifted high, the feeding will occur above the ground level of the plants. Just like having fungicides to control pests, a number of repellents on the market are effective in the control of this pest or used as a part of a disease control program.
Maybe you prefer the old fashioned cure -the shotgun. In a deer area these animals may become troublesome because they feed on young tender growth of many kinds of deciduous shrubs and trees. One of the plants especially relished by deer is the native Red Osier Dogwood.
Adequate fencing provides the best solution for preventing such damage. It is an expensive method, but is effective. Wrapping trunks of valuable fruit trees with coarse screening is another way to prevent girdling by rodents.
These coverings must reach high enough to take care of changes in snow level during the winter. If the snow drifts above the protective covering, better get out the shotgun (just kidding)!
Snow is one of nature’s important mulches, since it protects tender perennial plants over the cold winter months of the north. The snow acts as an insulation, protecting plants from extreme changes in temperature which happen so often in this section of the country.
The greatest danger is ice formation at ground level. If this happens, much of the insulating value of the snow is lost. Providing good sub-surface, and especially good surface drainage, is one way of reducing ice formation at the base of perennial plants.
Keep from Losing Snow
When we witness a cold, blizzardy day in January, we can realize the importance of not cutting down the stalks and tops of perennial plants such as peony or delphinium. A perennial border cleaned bare of its plant growth in the fall, often loses its protective snow cover when the first blizzard of winter strikes.
A good shrub border, hedge or fence placed adjacent to the perennials serves much the same purpose, to keep the snow from blowing off.
Long winter months in this area make us appreciate plant materials that give color to our landscape setting at this time of year. Evergreens are especially suitable for this purpose. We should be reminded not to plant all our small evergreens around the foundation of the house.
Some evergreens placed elsewhere in the yard aid in brightening the winter scene as viewed from our windows.
The colorful bark of red and yellow twigged native dogwoods and willows will brighten the winter landscape picture. Think, too, of using berried shrubs and trees such as viburnums, flowering crabapples, mountain ash and haws. Many such plants offer food for our visiting winter birds.