Newly planted young trees, fruit trees, ornamental cherries and pear trees, and those more expensive grafted weeping ornamental specimen plants are easily damaged from rodents and rabbits during the winter months. If the bark is chewed off all around the base of the plant the tree will die every time.
The simple most efficient way to prevent damage to young trunks of these plants is to wrap them tightly (right up against the trunks) with metal screening, hardware cloth, or even doubled up chicken wire.
Wrap from the bottom up two or three feet or to the first branches. The metal screening prevents vermin from chewing off that tasty, young, outer bark that is so important to protect. It also protects from deer rubbing the bark off with their antlers.
The screening allows the tree trunks to dry quickly following the snow and rainfall.
Using black drain tile on the trunks of the trees is not a good idea as it can allow the trunks to heat up and does not always protect from rodents getting inside of the tile.