DEAR JOAN: We have a lovely Japanese maple tree in our front yard. I noticed the other day a squirrel was tearing away the outer bark on the tree.
When I went outside to further inspect, there are several areas on the tree that are now missing bark. I am afraid that this might damage the health of our beautiful tree.
I was thinking of ways to keep the squirrels away from the tree itself, but that would be rather problematic as they tend to jump down onto the tree from the roof of our house. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can keep these guys from killing our tree?
Lisa Verley, Bay Area
DEAR LISA: The squirrels have certainly been making a nuisance of themselves. I get a few letters every day with some new atrocity they have committed.
How much damage they will do to your maple tree depends on the age of the tree, its general health and how much bark has been removed. All trees can withstand a little bark removal is they are well established, but stripping bark from the circumference of a limb will cause the limb to die.
Squirrels have a particular fondness for maples, using the bark to line their nests but also to chew on when food is scarce. Gnawing on the tree also helps keep their teeth from growing too long.
Most damage occurs in the early spring or early winter, so if you believe in such things, this could be a sign that we’re in for a long, cold winter.
Exclusion is your best hope. Trim the tree away from the house and wrap the trunk in metal flashing. It should go up 4 to 5 feet, and be snug enough to keep the squirrels from getting in between the metal and the tree, but not so tight as to restrict the tree’s growth. The smooth metal will prevent the squirrels from climbing into the tree from the ground.
You also can try hanging reflective discs in the tree. The flashes of light can discourage the squirrels. Another idea is to wrap the tree’s trunk and limbs — as much as you can — in gopher wire, which is like chicken wire but with much smaller openings. The wire won’t stop the chewing, but it can help stopping them from stripping off large pieces.
You also can give the squirrels an alternative to your maple tree, …
Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle