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Deer in the Yard

Q: How can we protect our trees and shrubs from all of the deer who have decided our back yard is a nice place for them to dine out?

A: Every year, deer cause millions and millions of dollars in damage to croplands, trees and shrubs. Their damage ranges from rubbing to outright consumption.

Deer need to rub their antlers to remove the "velvet", so any sturdy tree will do.

To protect valued trees, you may want to erect fencing high enough to keep the deer away. A deer can jump an 6' fence easily, so 8' would be the minimum height to try to preclude them.

You can also put plastic tubes around smaller tree trunks, the same kind nurseries put on trees to protect the trunks during handling and transport.

Repellants sometimes work, as does netting, but physical preclusion (adequate fencing) is the only fairly-sure way to keep deer from damaging your property.

As for plants they prefer, there are numerous websites that provide lists of "deer candy". Included in this list you'll find rhododendron, arborvitae, and taxus in the shrub group, and hemlock, crabapple and fir in the tree group.

In my experience, it's the rhodos, taxus and arborvitae that the deer love the most.

Plants that deer tend to browse on the least include maple, birch, magnolia, oak, elm, forsythia, privet, and lilac.

Some perennials and vines they don't particularly like include clematis, hydrangea, pachysandra and geranium.

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Tom Mugridge

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