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Winning the rabbit wars

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

Cottontails like this inhabit many Brookings backyards, and most of the time they’re welcome guests. But deep winter snow keeps the rabbits from getting to their usual sources of food on the ground, and they can wreak havoc on trees and shrubs. / Shrubs sheared off like this – or worse, chewed all the way to the ground – are a sure sign of hungry rabbits. Homeowners can limit damage by fencing expensive trees and shrubs before the snow falls, or by applying rabbit repellant. Register file photos

• Tired of cottontails chewing up your shrubbery? Tree expert John Ball offers tips for frustrated homeowners, serious gardeners

BROOKINGS – A couple of years ago, Brookings’ deep winter snows turned our cottontails into tree-eaters.

When I walked into my garden in the spring, I discovered that most of my purple sand cherries had been gnawed to the ground. So had my goldmound spirea and two or three other varieties.

Our backyard rabbits stripped every bit of bark from a dwarf moongold apricot I’d been nursing as specimen tree and killed three amur maples I’d been working on for years.

Probably worst of all, they ate their way through a 40-year-old hedge of red-twig dogwood and leatherleaf viburnum. I cut back most of the canes they stripped, but it’ll be at least 10 years before the hedge regains its lush, leafy appearance.

For the complete article see the 02-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-13-2013 paper.

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