Big Pests That Can Damage Your Trees

Where we live in Denver, CO, there’s a lot of wildlife. You might see deer, birds, squirrels and maybe even wild turkeys strolling down roads. Unfortunately, sometimes their presence can also cause problems for your trees and landscaping. 

Here’s a few interesting tips and tricks from The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants or The Homeowner’s Handbook

Related Post: Common Insect Pests

Big Pests That Can Damage Your Trees
Photo by Marek Mucha on Pexels.com

Deer

Antlers on deer start growing in March or April and this is when much antler damage to trees occur. Bucks use trees as rubbing posts for their developing antlers. They also feed on the trowing tips of woody ornamentals, leaving in their wake bare jagged stubs. No tree or shrub is safe from deer, though some plans are less appealing than others. Just by landscaping our homes and turning old farmer’s fields into tree filled subdivisions we create a habitat for them.  As we destroy their native woods, they seek new sources of food and shelter and destroy or human landscape. 

The surest way to keep deer off your land is to build a 9-foot fence around it. Deer jump high and can leap fences up to that height. Less physical barriers include wrapping commercial tree guards around trunks and staking 5-foot-high wire mesh cages around the plants you’re protecting. Set the caging stakes around the plant’s circumferences at the distance of about 2 feet. 

Don’t invite deer to visit by leaving food for them. Deer repellents may work for a while, and so may automatic motion detectors that flood an area with light or sound when creatures walk by. After a while, however, deer adapt and you’ll need something new to surprise them. 

Deer have a preferred menu, from the most to the least favorite plans. If you plant their least favorites, they may visit the neighbors first, but chances are that they’ll return to your house in deepest winter when the good stuff next door is gone. 

Other Wild Visitors

Deer aren’t the only garden pests. Flocks of wild turkeys strut through yards at different seasons devouring nuts, insects, fern fronds, and berries from shrubs, planted for winter interest. 

Even domesticated animals destroy gardens. Dogs often relieve themselves on newly planted trees or shrubs, which can kill them later in the season.  Rabbits, mice and voles also gnaw on trees. Repellents sometimes work to keep rabbits away, but you may need to use a mesh tree guard on a young tree until its bark is sturdy enough to keep it safe from harm. 

Voles injure not only tree bark, but also roots and lower twigs. They girdle or chew a ring around the bark at the base of young trees, which disrupts the flow of water and nutrients. The tree weakens and ultimately dies. Some vole species eat little tree roots and girdle big ones, as well as girdling the trunk. This damage happens more in winter when they’ve exhausted other sources of food. They also nest at the base of trees and breed at an alarming rate. 

Photo by DSD on Pexels.com

Prevention Is the Best Cure

Besides having predators kill of the tiny rodents, you can save your trees by keeping your grass short and mulch shallow and away from the tree trunk. Those cone-shaped mulch mountains you see around trees create terrific nesting spots for voles. 

Clean your garden after leaf drop in fall, since autumn leaves also create habitat. When you remove the fallen leaves, voles won’t have a place to nest. 

Deer Resistant Trees:

  • Maple
  • Chokeberry
  • Barberry
  • Birch
  • Boxwood
  • Smoketree
  • Juniper
  • Magnolia
  • Spruce
  • Pine

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