We have a weeping pine tree that has been damaged in the lower branches by rabbits, will it have a long term impact on the tree?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners concerning your weeping pine tree.
Unfortunately, this time of year sees damage to numerous trees and shrubs from hungry rabbits. For example, my Bridle Wreath Spirea (Spirae aprunifolia) is pruned yearly from a 6′ shrub down to 1′. If I could only train the rabbits to remove certain branches, then my spring pruning would be so much easier!
We recently had a similar question concerning rabbit damage to the lower branches of a cedar hedge. Cedar Hedge gives a few suggestions that you might want to consider for next year to minimize damage from hungry critters.
Regarding long-term impact on your tree: from your photo it appears the tree has plenty of green growth, so the damage should not have a significant impact. However, a proper water regime along with fertilization is always recommended.
I cannot tell from your photo: but wonder if the plant in question is a weeping Norway spruce, Pieca abies ‘Pendula’. This plant grows best in full sun in slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soil. It is best to water the tree once the top few inches of soil dry out. It is important to make sure that you water your evergreens well before the ground freezes. These trees do not require a lot of fertilizer to thrive, however the use of a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 in the spring will encourage new, healthy growth. As always, be sure to read the directions on the side of the fertilizer for proper dilution.
This article from the Missouri Botanical Garden give additional information on this beautiful specimen plant.
Good luck with your weeping spruce.