Deer eating trees

Old 01-29-04, 11:14 PM
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Deer eating trees

No, that's not trees that are eating deer! Our problem is that the property has a row of small vertical cedars that is being munched on regulary by the resident wildlife, so that the tops are cone shaped and have been called 'rude' in shape. It appears that the trees were not planted close enough together, otherwise they might have formed into a hedge like some others in the neighbourhood. Any suggestions for repellent, plantings between the trees, etc?
Old 01-30-04, 03:37 AM
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Here is some discussion on deer and the damage they cause.

Hope this helps.
Old 01-30-04, 03:01 PM
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Deer eating cedar trees

Cedar tends to be #1 on the menu of deer during winter. To protect newly planted cedars, securely stake a chicken wire mesh cage around and over the top. The cage can stay in place around the tree until it out grows the cage. Or, you may wish to remove the cage in the summer and replace it each year during the months of November through April when deer tend to feed on cedars. Larger cages can be built to accommodate growing cedars until they crown out beyond the reach of deer. Wire cages can be extended in height with a band of 24-inch wide mesh and the top can be reused.

An electric wire fence can be strung along both sides of the row of cedars and along ends to deter deer. This option tends to be less labor intensive and less expensive. Some construct 8' high mesh fences with a mindset that if a deer can jump 8' then they deserve to eat what they want. When the abundance of food falls short for deer during winter months, they tend to turn to the evergreens for sustenance. They will dine on every bit of the foliage within their reach.

Unprotected trees tend to be short, stubby, and often unsightly. Once the crown of a young cedar has been eaten, its growth is stunted.

Installing fencing during winter tends not to be an option. Thus, there are commercial deer repellent sprays that smell and taste bad to the deer. There are also home remedies and concoctions that are frequently seen in deer control information, but these tend not to be so successful.

You can contact your local Dept. of Agriculture Extension Agent who may have additional recommendations regarding your hedge for your area. The Agent may also have some recommendations for a different type of planting for your landscape that is appropriate for your Growing Zone and less likely to be eaten by deer. Remember, though, if a deer is hungry enough, it will eat anything it can find.

The type of cedar and its expected height and girth at maturity usually determines the spacing. Take a clipping to the Agent for identification if you do not know what type of cedar you have. Arborvitae is one plant that is often called a cedar but is not a cedar. It is commonly seen in landscapes as a hedgerow because it is inexpensive and tends to be hardy. Evergreen shrubs tend to be planted tightly. How closely spaced tends to be determined by the type of planting and its growth habits.

Cedar hedgerows do require some pruning to stimulate growth. New cedar hedges tend to be more demanding. They should be clipped twice a year for the first few years to encourage the growth of side shoots. This is usually done with the first shearing in early summer or once the spring growth is over. After clipping feed with a fertilizer made for cedars to encourage a second growth that should be lightly sheared in Sept. An established cedar hedge needs little maintenance, just clipping once a year during the summer months.

Cedar hedges tend to be slightly tapered in shape, narrower at the top than the base. If the shape is reversed, wider at the top, the base of the hedge will be shaded and eventually lose its leaves. The tapered shape also helps shed snow in winter. A flat topped hedge will tends to open up from the weight of snow, so it is important to shake off snow or knock off with broom after a snow.

Without knowing what type of cedar or "false" cedar that you have, it is difficult to make any speculation in regard to your existing plants. Adding additional plants, especially if attractive to deer, may compound problems. Additional plants in a hedgerow creates competition for moisture and nutrients in the soil. Recommendations from your local Agricultural Agent for additional or replacement plantings that tend to be deer resistant will be helpful.

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