Now that the snow has melted, I see that moles or mice have stripped the bark on my crab trees and yellow twig dogwood. They've eaten all the way around the tree up to about 12" high. Is there anything I can do to help the trees?
Moles are usually blamed but not the culprits. They are fast asleep for winter while the voles (meadow mice) and rabbits are busy eating the bark at the base of trees and shrubs. The yellow twig dogwood will be fine. Prune off damaged stems and wait for new shoots to sprout from the roots. You will have to wait and see what happens with the crabapple. Sometimes there is enough of the cambium (tissue that contains the vessels that carry water and nutrients between the roots and leaves) left to keep the plant alive. Some avid or desperate gardeners try grafting damaged trees. This requires great skill and even more luck. Bridge grafts can be used if the bark near the soil level is intact. Graft one end of an apple twig below and the other end above the damaged area. The goal is to create a new path to move water and nutrients between the leaves and roots. Or plant small seedlings or use suckers if there is no cambium tissue between the ground and non damaged region of the trunk. Graft the top of the seedling or sucker above the damaged area onto the main tree trunk. Grafting is very difficult and usually not successful. Next winter prevent damage by encircling young trees, shrubs and fruit trees with a 4 feet tall cylinder of hardware cloth. Sink the fence several inches into the ground.
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