Deer damage to ornamental plants and trees is progressively a suburban area problem. Deer populations in suburban neighborhoods have grown significantly due to uninhibited farms, tighter hunting restrictions and urban sprawl. Deer are very selective feeders that eat leaves and flowers from shrubs and ornamental trees. Damage to larger trees can be found up to 7 feet high. In most areas, deer damage tends to peak in winter, especially when snow cover reduces the food supply. Most areas with overpopulated deer herds experience problems all year long. The availability of natural plant food sources and the individual taste preferences make deer proofing a difficult task.
Deer will eat almost any plant rather than starve, so damage control measures will be needed. These measures include careful plant selection and use of fencing and repellents. These can help control deer damage to landscapes.
A fence is the most effective control against deer damage. An fence that is eight feet in height is generally sufficient to deter deer. If you want to use a lower fence, it will work if they slant away from your yard. Tree protectors or shelters also prevent deer from feeding on young trees. Tubing made of polypropylene, plastic tree wrap, woven-wire mesh cylinders or netting can be used to protect individual or group plantings. The netting can be left on year-round if it’s attached loosely. It is important to leave sufficient space at the base to allow for plant growth.
Repellents may help reduce or deter deer, but they do not eliminate damage completely. An easy repellent is made at home from eggs. The homemade is made by using two rotting eggs with a gallon of water. Spray the mixture on ornamentals and the smell from rotting eggs on the plants will repel deer. Another tactic is to use human hair hung in mesh bags for a repellent. Hang the hair bags on the outer branches of trees about a yard apart. The hair will need to be replaced monthly. Bars of strongly scented soap hung in the same way will also work. This is an excellent way to make use of all those aromatic gift soaps you don’t plan to use. Repellents containing deer predator urine or spray-on, soap-based mixtures usually last only a few weeks.
Once deer taste the plants and trees in your garden, it is difficult to rid them of the habit. Replacing your current trees and shrubs with plants that are less appealing will help move the repel the deer to other sites. The Tree Care Industry Association recommends planting trees that have a history of surviving areas of heavy deer activity.
The recommended trees include:
Best trees for repelling deer:
Bottlebrush Buckeye, Downy Serviceberry, Shadbush, Allegheny Serviceberry, Chinese Paper Birch, ‘Heritage’ Heritage Birch, Paper Birch, Japanese Falsecypress, Japanese Cedar, Colorado Blue Spruce, Scotch Pine, and Douglas Fir.
Best Shrubs and Climbers
Bearberry, Pawpaw, Barberry, Boxwood, Caryopteria, American Bittersweet, Red Osier Dogwood, Japanese Plum-Yew, Russian Olive, Creeping Wintergreen, Rose of Sharon, John T. Morris Holly, Lydia Morris Hollies, Leucothoe, European Privet, Japanese Andromeda, Common Buckthorn, Blueberry Elder, Dwarf Sweet Christmas Box, Russian Olive, Creeping Wintergreen, Rose of Sharon, John T. Morris Holly, Lydia Morris Hollies, Leucothoe, European Privet, Japanese Andromeda, Common Buckthorn, Blueberry Elder, Dwarf Sweet, and Christmas Box.
Check with your local garden center for a list of trees in your area that are the least appealing to deer.
What can you do?
Homeowners who would like a professional arborist to assess their trees should contact Acorn Arboricultural Tree Service is a proud member of the TCIA and a ISA Certified Arborist. We are part a company who recognize stringent safety and performance standards, and are required to carry liability insurance.
For more information on mature tree care, contact us, your local ISA Certified Arborist. Acorn Arboricultural Tree Service is a proud member of the TCIA and a ISA Certified Arborist. We would be happy to consult with you about your tree’s health. Contact us to schedule a consultation with our staff arborists who can identify the causes of tree health problems and make recommendations for treatment.
Contact Acorn Arboricultural Tree Service, Inc. with any additional questions or for a consultation using our online form or call us at 916-787-8733