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While deer may be cute and bring back memories of Bambie frolicking in the forest with Flower and Thumper they can be the scourge of many a gardener. While the gardener patiently waits for their Daylily blossoms to pop - so do the deer. Then like Vegas Elvis at a buffet line, the deer devour what the gardener has been so patiently waiting for.
Deer can also be a destructive factor in the winter. In hard winters, where there is a lot of snow cover it is harder for deer to find food. They will nibble on your evergreens, especially Arborvites, and nip of the ends off your fruit and ornamental trees. Male deer often rub their antlers on tree trunks ripping off bark and exposing the tree to disease and insect attack.
There are ways to dealing with deer if you live in a highly populated area that will leave both you and the deer families happy.
Reduce the “Buffet” Attraction in Your Landscape with Repellents
These products are designed to keep deer from munching on the garden, either with taste or scent repellents:
Simple chicken wire fencing or other types of fencing around a newly planted tree will keep deer from nibbling at the ends of the branches. A full sized deer can easily stretch to up to 8 feet tall on their back legs to eat tender branch tips, so make sure your fencing is high enough. In areas where there is a lot of snow coverage, this might not be tall enough. Two to three feet of compacted snow around your tree easily gives deer the boost they need to get to high branches.
As the tree canopies get larger and it is harder to encase the whole tree in fencing there is a different fencing technique. Take sections of fencing about 4-6 ft tall by 3-4 ft wide and bend them into arches. Place four of these arches down on the ground (the long way, not upright), pinning the sides into the ground, in a box around the trees. The deer won't want to walk into the fence arches as they would tangle their feet. Once again this won't really help during heavy snow fall in the winter.
To protect the truck from antler rubbing you can wrap it. Make sure you wrap the trunk after insects have laid eggs and hibernated for the winter as they find tree wrap very attractive.
Protecting Your Harvest
Deer are very confident and adept at jumping high fencing. Fencing needs to be at least 8 feet high and made of high tensile wiring to keep deer out. Also, deer usually won't jump over a fence if they cannot see the other side. A solid wooden fence would do the trick. But face it – how pretty are solid wood fences that shade out your veggies or tall wire fencing. An alternative, if you have the space, is erecting two four foot high fences five feet apart around the veggie garden. This will keep the deer from jumping in as there isn't room for them to jump both fences.