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Gardening in Washington State

Protect Your Young Apple Trees from Renegade Rabbits

rabbit

If you have seen cute little bunny rabbits romping in your young orchard over the summer, don’t be surprised if you start seeing damage to your young fruit trees. Rabbits nip off the tops and gouge the bark of stems in winter. During winter, rabbits and hares remove “chips” of bark and wood from thin-barked woody plants, sometimes girdling the entire trunk.

gnaw

girdle

Washington State is home to several species of rabbits and hares. Of these, only the snowshoe hare and the introduced Eastern Cottontail commonly damage gardens, orchards and landscapes.
To prevent winter damage to your young trees and shrubs from “wascally wabbits”, you can keep them away from the plants by:

• using wire or plastic tree guards, or
• wrapping lower trunks with burlap or wire mesh, or
• using rabbit-proof fencing, or
• applying rabbit repellents registered for home use.

Remember to reduce hiding places near your garden or orchard by eliminating thick brush, including brush piles, and by placing screens over openings under outbuildings. This will help reduce the number of rabbits and hares around your home and protect your landscape plants.

Submitted by: Dave Pehling, September 28, 2015

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