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Distance Wildlife From Your Landscape Plants

Each year at this time, property owners ask for advice for keeping deer from eating their valuable landscape plants. There are no foolproof methods. When a deer is hungry enough, it will eat anything.

Each year, one of our customers puts a container of flowering annuals on loved ones’ graves in three different sections of a cemetery. The only plant he has tried that has any deterrent effect is wax leaf begonias. Up until now, they have lasted all season. This last August, he reported that the two pots of the begonias whose flowers were red were just fine, and they were adjacent to the woods where the deer live. The pot with white flowers in the middle of the cemetery were all chewed off. The moral of the story is that although deer are color blind they are also unpredictable.

The most effective deterrent is planting plants that deer don’t like. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County’s website has the most complete list of deer resistant plants I’ve seen. To review the Cornell list visit
There are also commercial repellants available for spraying the plants. These ideas may work or they may not.

Wrapping shrubs, evergreens and young trees with burlap, will not only protect them from becoming deer food but will also protect them from wind damage. Wrapping is a rather easy process. Begin by driving three long stakes or poles into the ground to serve as a frame. Then attach the burlap to the poles. Keep the top open so light and water can still get to the plant. Because deer can reach nearly eight feet when they stand on their hind legs, the burlap should be eight feet tall or a little taller than the plant. Hopefully, when the deer encounter the burlap, they will go elsewhere rather than trying to remove the burlap.

Deer will eat the tender branch tips on deciduous trees. Bucks will also rub their antlers on the trunk to remove the velvet that covers new antlers. The result is unsightly on any tree but rubbing thin bark trees also results in bark removal, which can kill the tree. The most effective deterrent is plastic trunk guards.

When they’re done rubbing their antlers, the deer may reach up and eat the tender branch tips. For this, you need our arborists to raise the crown by removing the lower branches so none is below eight feet. Don’t compromise your safety and the tree’s health. Let our arborist use their specialized equipment so you don’t have to use a dangerous ladder or work overhead. The arborist will also advise you whether removing the lower limbs will compromise the tree in any way.

While you’re protecting your plant against a big nucience – deer – don’t let the little guys – rodents – swoop in and help themselves. Extend plastic trunk guards all the way down to the base of the tree or wrap the trunk in hardware cloth. Finally, be sure the mulch is an inch or two from the trunk.

One comment on “Distance Wildlife From Your Landscape Plants

  1. I really wish I knew what keeps the deer out of our landscapes. They have never caused any damage within the landscaped area, even though they are very common in the adjacent forest. It would be disastrous if they ever change their habits. A few were seen wandering through during the fire, but they did not stop to even taste anything.

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