Apple trees are common targets of mice, which enjoy eating bark off the tree and gnawing at the roots. Rabbits are also notorious for feeding on the bark and exposed roots of young trees, although rabbit damage is generally limited to winter months. This damage usually occurs at ground level, and is easy to overlook if it is covered with leaves or other debris. Saving an apple tree from rodent damage entails limiting the damage done and preventing any further damage.
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Things you need
- Duct tape
- Sharp blade
- Wire or vinyl fencing
Check your apple trees for rodent damage by inspecting the bottom of the trees and the top of the roots, generally just beneath the surface of the soil, for loss of bark and signs of chewing. Rodent attacks, particularly from mice, are common among trees with grass or mulch covering the tree bottom.
Wash the damaged area with soap and water, and thoroughly rinse. If the bark damage is limited to scratches, wash them and leave the wounds open to heal. If applicable, replace any available bark as close to its original position as possible, and secure the bark with duct tape. This procedure is similar to putting a bandage on a cut. However, if replacing the bark is not an option, a more direct measure must be taken. If the bark surrounding the wound appears jagged, use a blade to cut an oval around the wound; make your cut as close to the edge as possible, and leave the wound exposed. Jagged bark interferes with the tree's ability to transport nutrients. Cutting away the bark will help the tree heal.
Protect the tree by clearing the area around it from excessive grass, and keep the grass well mowed. Place gravel around the tree's bottom to discourage mice from returning. If the problem is rabbits, place a wire or vinyl fence around the tree to prevent access.
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