Last week I got the first phone call of what I am guessing will be many from a client who noticed that quite a few of the landscape plants around their home had been damaged over the winter.  I had a pretty good idea from her description of what had caused the damage but I went to see it in person.  Just as I suspected: rabbit damage. Rabbits had been feeding on her plants all winter long and it subtly showed.

Any time that we have a winter as severe as this past one, and the ground is covered with snow for this long, we see quite a bit of damage in the following spring.  Rabbits are usually the main culprit.  With their normal food sources covered by snow, they resort to feeding on landscape plants.

Some of their favorites seem to be Winged Euonymus, also know as “Burning Bush”, as well as Spirea and Privet plants.  While most of these plants will recover eventually, some clients will want to replace them rather than waiting for them to get back to a size that looks good with the house.

Rabbit damage typically takes two forms.  They will strip the bark in many cases and in others they will actually feed on the branches.  When they feed on the branches, they leave the remaining plants looking as if they have been pruned, typically with close to a 45 degree angle cut.

For future reference, when we have another winter like this one, this type of damage can be reduced or avoided by putting up chicken wire around your favorite plants.  Be sure to bury the first 6” of the chicken wire in the ground to keep the rabbits from tunneling in.There are also quite a few commercially available rabbit repellants. For more tips on landscaping and landscape management, see our other blog articles and don’t forget to visit for all your landscaping plans this spring.

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