What caused this damage to my shrub: voles, rabbits, weed-eater?

ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)October 24, 2013

I am guessing it's voles, because a week or so ago we took our fencing down to weed-eat, and as we were putting the fencing back up, there were 4 or 5 baby voles scurrying around frantically. I was pissed.

They were either born inside our fencing or scooted underneath it, because we don't bury the fence, we have always put large rocks around our fencing to keep the voles out, and it works. It's just we didn't put the rocks around these shrubs we had just planted in the spring until last week because we were under the impression that voles only attacked plants in the winter time. So this damage could have gone on all summer.

Anyway, we banged all the voles over the head with a shovel, which wasn't easy because they were running around so fast, then we put the fences back up, and put the rocks around it.

So while we were doing all of this I saw this damage. This was the only shrub out of our 14 shrubs that was damaged.

I do want to add that we also have rabbits that live under our front porch. Also, DH is extremely careful with his weed-eating, and he doesn't think it was him at all, but he said if you guys think it was weed-eating damage then he's sorry about that, and he'll be more careful next time.

Where do I prune these dead branches off at? Thanks in advance for your time.

I do also have one more closer up view of the damage, if you go to:

https://twitter.com/Ilovemytrees then you can click on the pic link in my timeline.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ilovemytrees Twitter pic of damage

This post was edited by ilovemytrees on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 11:21

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

those would be some ginormous voles to eat off a trunk at 6 inches .. lol ..

rabbits or deer ...

absolve DH .. thats chewing damage.. not WEater ...

snip clean.. observe for a year.. then make final prune ...

what is this plant... my first thought was one of our most hated plants that you insist on .. lol ..

and whats your goal with it ... different answer for a tree shape plant.. versus a shrub look ....

i would use roundup on grass and weeds .. if for no other reason ... to get rid of the need to weedwhip ... but you wont do that ...

is there any issue of this being a grafted plant.. because if it is ... this growth might be coming from under a graft ...

a bit weirded out by you grinning at me.. when i hit the link .. lol ...


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 12:27PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

It's a Chicago Fire Burning Bush. Please don't throw tomatoes, because EVERYONE has at least one fat and tall burning bush in their front yard within a 10 mile radius of my house. .

I was wondering why that damaged branch looked a different color than the trunk. So this branch is under the graft?

Also, I thought, since voles are of the mice family, that they would be excellent climbers, and could climb the trunk.

As for using Roundup, we are definitely using it next year. DH won't have it any other way. He was so frustrated with the grass growing up along the fence. It was a @#@$# to pull it all out from 200ft of fencing. He said never again.

Do I prune right up to the trunk?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Rabbits do similar damage to our blueberry shrubs. They are mostly interested in new growth, and they can chew right through woody stems up to about 1/4 inch diameter. This kind of damage usually happens in the winter, when snow covers the ground, and grass is not available. However, I am seeing it in the fall and in the spring as well.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 2:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i doubt ... very highly.. that a semi-invasive plant.. would be grafted ... who would invest the time in money in doing such ...

as such.. just cut it ..

what you didnt answer.. is if you are going for some weird tree form ...

if you want it to bush out.. then cut just below the damage ...

if you want tree form.. then go in there and remove it surgically ...

tell hubby.. 3 gallon hand pump spray tank .. i like the height .. so when you set it down.. you dont have to bend over to pick it up ...

you know what... how about a new post with a searchable title.. and i will tell you how to spray ... in wind if you want ... see you there ...


    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 3:54PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"It's a Chicago Fire Burning Bush. Please don't throw tomatoes, because EVERYONE has at least one fat and tall burning bush in their front yard within a 10 mile radius of my house..."

It's your property and your decision, but think of it this way...If you saw many of your fellow motorists throwing out trash, would you also throw yours out? Having a Euonymus alatus in your yard is actually a little worse than throwing out litter, because litter doesn't exponentially reproduce, but, like littering on an already heavily littered highway, I guess one could make the excuse. Your state's Department of Environmental Conservation has given that plant a rating of "Very High" for its invasiveness (environmental damage) rating.

I agree with Ken, your little dead voles didn't do that damage. Maybe you should club your rabbits.

I can't tell if the damaged branches are coming from the main trunk or from ground level. If from the trunk, yes, I'd prune at the trunk (just outside the branch collar). If from the ground, I'd prune at or just slightly above ground level (IF I was going to keep the plant).

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 6:48PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

Thank you so much for all your advice.

Ken, I want a fat shrub form, so I'm going to cut the damage off according to your instruction. I'll do it and post a picture. I didn't cut it this weekend because it's been too windy.

Next Spring, I'm going to use Liquid Fence for Rabbits during the Spring and Summer. I read online that it works for most people. I don't want anything to happen to the bunnies; they're precious animals.

As much as dh does not look forward to it, we're bringing out the green metal poles and putting rabbit fencing around the shrubs to raise the snow level from the 2 ft fencing we have now to 5 ft.

Brandon, I know what you say is true; I have no defense for having Burning Bushes, only that I've loved them since I was a child. I hate the thought that we're contributing to any kind of litter, I really do. I'm grateful that you were still kind enough to answer my post. Hopefully I'll make up for it with the conifers I'm going to plant next year.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 6:38PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

why dont you build a proper pen for the rabbits ... ??? .. they arent that hard to live trap in a hav-a-heart trap ....

seriously .. if you are harboring a wild rabbit population .. you will have no garden left in 5 years.. there is this saying.. MULTIPLYING LIKE RABBITS ... and you are providing the flora and the fauna ... there is no equivalency .... 4 rabbits will be about 20 next late spring... 80 by fall ... etc ...



your priorities are really not sound here ...

as always.. just trying to talk you into some reality beyond a disney movie..

as always.. i am trying to help you .. dont take any of it personally ... i will be here to help you fix the destruction they create ...


ps: its brilliant you thought of snow cover and height.. took me a lot of damage before i figured out a one foot piece of chicken wire under 3 feet of snow was pretty useless.. lol ...

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 6:57PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

Our property line abuts a gigantic tree farm of thousands of trees, and across the road is nothing but pasture so the bunnies are everywhere. I swear they even look both ways as they cross the road. You never see them hurt on the road. We see them happily run across our property all the time. We are rural, with a beautiful lake, lots of tree cover, and everything a bunny would ever want.

The bunnies were here first. I will have to live with them and use fencing to keep them out. It looks like everything we've planted is in it's own jail and I hate that. It's either that or wave the white flag of surrender. Yes, the voles were here before us too, but they're rodents, and to me there is a difference. Although now that I know the voles weren't causing the damage I will leave them alone.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 9:04PM
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