Rabbits have damaged several trees and shrubs in my yard. Can I do anything to save them?
Deciduous trees that have been girdled (the bark has been removed completely around the trunk) have essentially been destroyed. The best course of action is to replace the girdled trees. Wrapping the trunk or applying pruning paint to the damaged area will not save the tree. Most affected trees will sucker from the base. However, since most fruit and ornamental trees are propagated by grafting, suckers which originate from the rootstock will not produce a desirable tree.
Many deciduous shrubs have the ability to produce new shoots or suckers at their base. Because of this ability, many severely damaged deciduous shrubs will likely recover in a few years. Girdled stems should be cut off just below the feeding injury.
The extent of damage to evergreens is determined by the presence or absence of buds (growing points). If buds are present, damaged branches will produce new growth in spring and eventually recover. If buds are absent, the damaged branches will not be able to produce new growth and will die.