Home & Leisure

The Greener View: Rose Care and Privacy Plants

Jeff Rugg on

Q: Last year, I planted six roses. Over the winter, the stems have turned brown except for the very bottom. Rabbits have begun eating some of them. Is there something I can do to protect them?

A: Late winter is a hard time of year for many animals. New sprouts have not yet started their growth, and last year's foods are almost gone. Rabbits and many other small mammals will eat just about everything, but each animal will develop a favorite or two that they will prefer to eat. Sometimes, it is a matter of what is available, and other times, it is a matter of what is closest to the shelter that will protect them from predators. After those foods are all gone, they will move to plants that don't taste as good and those that are less protected.

The only protection that will work over a whole winter is a physical barrier. Fencing works better than sprays and chemicals. Spray products often do work but will need to be applied several times over the winter. They are fast and easy to apply and can be done if fencing isn't possible.

Many plant stems turn colors over the winter. The spring's growth will be green, and then over the course of the year, it will thicken and develop a brown bark. If it died from the winter weather, it will be easy to tell, and it will just break off when bent.

Wait until new growth starts coming out in the spring to see if the brown wood is dead, and then prune it all off. You might be surprised at how much is still alive.

Q: We cut down a large crabapple tree next to our deck. It grew too big, and the fruit caused a mess on our deck. What kind of tree can you suggest that would provide some privacy from the neighbors?

A: You did not specify where you live, and that makes a bit of a difference, of course, but there are some general rules that apply everywhere.


For privacy, you might want to consider an evergreen. There are many very narrow upright growing varieties for every climate zone. They will give privacy the whole year.

You might also consider a large shrub. The line of distinction between tree and shrub is kind of blurry, between 10 to 20 feet. Many shrubs will grow 10 to 15 feet tall and are at their fullest for the top two-thirds of their height, where they will provide the most screening. Ask your local nursery for a recommendation of a large shrub. Also ask them for ones that don't create a messy fruit. Don't ask them for one that doesn't flower; because they all flower, it is more of a matter of what kind of fruit is produced.

You can plant any of these plants closer to the property line. A tree planted next to the deck will actually block your view of your yard, but one planted next to the property line will create a backdrop for your view of your yard while it screens out the neighbors.


Email questions to Jeff Rugg at To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




Joel Pett Zits Mutts Kevin Siers Marshall Ramsey Wallace The Brave