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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

Last winter mice ate all the lower bark off my fruiting shrubs. I can wrap the trunks of my fruit trees to protect them from rodents, but it's very difficult to protect shrubs that have dozens of small stems. Is there something I can do to protect my shrubs?

Joseph, Duluth, Minnesota

Dear Joseph,

This is a method that has worked well for me:

The best time to do this is late fall, before snow begins to fall. Rodents are at their most destructive under cover of snow.

Mix fine sand or pumice into a small container of white interior latex paint. Stir it in well, and stir frequently while you are using the mixture. Paint a nice thick layer of the sandy paint onto the stems or trunks of the shrubs or trees that you want to protect from rodent attack. The gritty paint should protect the plants all winter, but they will need to be repainted the following Fall, because the paint tends to flake off once the weather gets wetter and hotter.

Environmentally yours,



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