Animal Hibernation in My Lawn: Should I Care?

bunnies

From rabbits and raccoons to skunks and other critters, you likely have animals hibernating in your neighborhood at this very moment and they’re about to wake up. The question is: should you even care? Are these hibernating animals simply a part of our ecosystem that we should live and let live with, or are they posing a threat to the health and wellbeing of our lawns? This is a common concern of home and business owners worried about keeping their outdoor landscapes looking good (and healthy) all year long.

The good news is, Spring-Green, America’s neighborhood lawn care specialists, has all the information you need to understand hibernation patterns, how to prevent damage to your lawn during this time, and what to expect when the seasons change. So, let’s get started in learning about animal hibernation and protecting our lawns from animal-related damage from winter.

What You Need-to-Know About Animal Hibernation and Your Lawn

  • When, What, Why, and How Do Animals Hibernate? Rabbits, raccoons, skunks, and most insects are the more common animals that can be found hibernating near an average homeowner’s lawn each winter. It’s an interesting thing this hibernation and the way Mother Nature helps animals survive winter. Here’s how it works:
raccoon

During the winter months, many animals go into hibernation in order to conserve energy during the harshest season. During hibernation, their body temperature falls, their metabolism, heart rate, and breathing slows, and their fat stores are only used to perform essential functions, such as breathing. With an internal clock that “wakes them up” just in time for warmer seasons, hibernation naturally comes to an end in Spring and Summer. Hibernation lengths vary based on the species and location but range from three to six months on average.

  • How Do Animals Impact My Yard When They Go into/Wake Up From Hibernation? Now that we’ve gotten schooled on the details of hibernation, let’s get at the real question – how does all this impact my lawn, trees, and shrubs? While the phenomenon of hibernation makes for interesting reading, it can wreak havoc on winter and spring lawns. The types of animals that hibernate in your neighborhood will vary by region, and some are more destructive than others. Here are a few examples of the types of damage that can occur…
    • Digging Holes in The Lawn – This is the most common issue caused by animals that hibernate as they feed on grubs or other insects before resting for the winter.
    • Burrowing in the Lawn – Burrows can cause many problems, including damage to the lawn, and are typically caused by groundhogs and woodchucks as they prepare for winter hibernation.
baby skunk
  • How to Reduce Animal Damage? Coyote urine is a deterrent for keeping raccoons and skunks at bay. Gardeners also have luck by adding netting around the perimeter of their lawn to keep these rodents at bay. Deer can be kept away with a store-bought deer repellant, especially applied to blooming tulips or other tasty plants. Some people hang bars of very fragrant soap around the plants that deer like to feed on during the winter, such as arbor vitae, to keep away the deer.

If you’re unsure how to rid your lawn of unwanted pests or of what’s causing damage to your trees, shrubs, and plants, you always have a team of lawn care professionals standing by to assist, at Spring-Green. Contact our team to help you determine the cause of the problem and develop a plan of action to keep your lawn healthy all year long.

Contact a Spring-Green Lawn Care Pro Today!

Rabbit Damage in Winter—They Are Just Trying to Survive

As I walked out of a side door to our office the other day, I could not help but notice the hydrangea bushes that are located close to the entrance. I was shocked to see the amount of rabbit damage caused by rabbits eating the bark to say alive during this winter that never seems to want to end. I could easily tell that the culprits were rabbits due to the numerous bunny tracks in the snow.

Rabbits will feed on just about anything they can find during the winter and the bark of ornamental shrubs are usually within easy access for them. They will even eat the bark on low-growing evergreens like yews and junipers. Several years ago, we had a cluster of 6 or 7 pfitzer junipers by our office that were killed by the winter feeding of rabbits.

Speaking of being killed by rabbits, I am afraid that the hydrangeas are so badly damaged by the ravenous rabbits that they will have difficulty recovering. The plants will probably leaf out due to the stored carbohydrates within the stem tissues, but will quickly die. Unfortunately, it’s likely that no amount of shrub care will bring them back to the healthy plants they once were.

It is possible that the plants will send up new sucker growth from the crown of the plant, but it will take years before they develop into the same sized plants. If we have another snowy winter, the rabbits will probably feast on the remaining branches as well. Unfortunately this damage is virtually unavoidable as the rabbits are just trying to survive.