Tree Protection Against Deer: Protecting Newly Planted Trees From Deer

Deer Eating A Plant
(Image credit: Paul Hartley)

There is nothing more frustrating than noticing the bark is peeled away from newly planted trees. The damage is potentially life-threatening and exposes the not yet established tree to disease and pests. Deer are majestic and graceful but their feeding and rubbing hurt your plants. So if you are asking yourself, how can I protect baby trees from deer? The answers can be found in just a few sentences below.

Reasons to Protect New Trees from Deer

Watching wildlife is a peaceful and sentient activity. Deer are especially marvelous to view in the woods and fields but once they are in your garden, the gloves come off. Deer tree protection is necessary for many varieties of trees, as well as the newly planted babies up to a few years old. Deer have their preferences for nibbling, but young bark is especially appealing due to its flavor and tenderness. The worst damage is done by males who rub their antlers against the bark to remove the velvet. Deer also paw at the soil and unearth roots, damage the base of the small tree, and can even unearth newly planted trees. Protecting newly planted trees from deer in prone areas is necessary for their continued health and growth. So how can I protect baby trees from deer? This question has likely been asked since humans began to plant and agriculture became a way of life. The first step is to ascertain for certain who the culprit is of the damaged trees. If you actually see the deer with your own eyes, you will know -- but they are shy creatures and may not be evident when people are out and about. Rabbits and other rodents also do a fair bit of damage to young trees. Deer browsing leaves ragged edges on the bark and lower branches. They have oval droppings and the damage will be higher up on the plant than rodent damage.

Methods of Deer Tree Protection

There are two easy ways to protect new trees from deer. Repellents and barriers are both useful in many instances but the combination of the two is best, as deer are wily and can get over all but the tallest fences.

Cages and Fencing

Cages and fences cordon off the area where deer browse. A deer fence must be at least 8 to 10 feet (2.5-3 m.) high to stop the animals from leaping into the no browse zone. Fencing is expensive but fairly reliable. Cages can be constructed from chicken wire or more glamorous materials, but the goal is to encase the sensitive tree and prevent deer damage. Cages need to be expandable to allow for tree growth while still giving deer tree protection. Protecting newly planted trees from deer with repellents may use the animal's sense of smell or taste to drive it away. Homemade remedies abound on the internet or try a commercial repellent for tree protection against deer.

Get Cookin'- Homemade Recipes for Deer Repellent

Actually, you don't even need to touch a saucepan. Deer are offended by human scents such as bars of soap and hair. Hang these in old pantyhose from the tree limbs. Protect new trees from deer with sprays you can mix up at home. A solution of 6 percent hot sauce and 94 percent water or straight blended up habaneros at 8 percent and 92 percent water will offend the deer's sense of taste. They also seem to dislike chicken eggs mixed with water that's sprayed on the tree bark.

Collars for Tree Protection Against Deer

Very few trees can get adequate stem protection from a homemade collar. Use PVC piping large enough to fit around the trunk with a couple of inches (5 cm.) of room. Cut down the length of the pipe to open it up and slip it around the trunk at planting. Heavy mesh or inexpensive wire fencing is also useful. Roll pieces of these around the trunk and secure. Any type of collar you use will need to be staked and removed when the trunk grows too large for the enclosure.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.