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Protect plants from winter animal browsing

Plastic tree guards protect young trees
A reminder to all Yard and Garden News readers (and anyone else ) who struggle with animals feeding on your plants during the winter! Our multiple feet of snow last winter left people off-guard and plants chewed, scraped and girdled by loss of the cambium layer that lies just beneath tree and shrub bark.

The cambium layer is important because it contains vessels know as the phloem that transport sugars, generated through photosynthesis in the leaves, to the roots. Once chewed through, these vessels are damaged and transport of sugars no longer is possible.

How to protect your plants

Predicted decent weather over the next week makes this a good time to fence your trees, shrubs and other woody plants animals may choose to gnaw on this winter.

A few tips to keep in mind:
  • Use plastic white tree guards to protect young, thin-barked trees from animal browsing which can girdle the tree and kill it.
  • The small grid and sturdy construction of hardware cloth makes it a very good choice for fencing trees and shrubs from small animals. Make sure your fencing is tall and sink the bottom of the fencing 2-3 inches into the soil to reduce the possibility of animals tunneling underneath it.
  • Deer fencing should be at least 8 feet tall, if possible, and sturdy - stout posts, strong fencing material, etc.
  • Diameter of fencing around plants should be large enough so animals can't reach through and nibble.
For more on protecting plants in the winter: 

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator - Horticulture

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