Deer eating my fruit trees

LullabyF360January 28, 2013

I have several fruit trees I planted last year. Plum, pear, apple, peach, and pomegranate. The deer from our woods like to eat their leaves. At first I thought there was an issue with the trees, but one night my husband opened the front door, and there they were eating my leaves! They have not touched my grapes or several berry bushes. What can I do to keep them from eating off my trees? I also have wormwood planted directly around my house. I know the "tea" made from wormwood is a natural pesticide, but I was told it will repel the deer, too.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

A fence at least 5ft tall around each tree is the most reliable if you can stand the look. Otherwise fence the whole orchard 7-8ft tall. That's what I've done with zero damage in 12 years.

Motion sensitive sprinklers and some repellents are likely a weak second.

You also need to be concerned about bucks rubbing their horns on your trees. That damage can be far worse than browsing and can occur in winter when you might not expect anything.

A fence properly done is 100% protection all year long. Nothing else will match that.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 7:09PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Been there done that.tried the repelling tried the motion activated the end I fenced the property and it is the best thing I ever did. As Fruitnut said it is the only real solution.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

After the first round of grazing everything this last spring, I put 48" tall electric netting around my orchard and charged it. I had no more problems and took it down in late October as I've not had any problems after the deer get the velvet off their horns and hunting season gets started.

I know 48" isn't enough to truly keep the deer out, but they have plenty to eat outside the fence and little inside other than the trees, so it has offered a deterrence they haven't felt it was worth overcoming.

I tried surrounding each tree with a fence, which worked well but also kept me from getting to the trees easily, so I went with the exterior fencing.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 1:34AM
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Depending on how high you plan to maintain the trees, you can put a small ring (6' diameter) of 4' welded wire fencing around each tree untill it gets above browse level....if you have the money a true orchard fence is mighty nice.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:31AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I don't want to fence my property since it would mean an 8' fence around my whole suburban yard, or an electric fence with small children living next door. I tried and failed with many things and finally had good luck with the motion-activated sprinklers. I needed a lot of them, 8 to protect 1 acre. Thats several hundred dollars worth; cheaper than a fence I guess. They also take some work to maintain, the hose is running all over the yard and is a problem for lawn mowing, and they don't work in winter since a freeze will break water pipes. I have not found the winter buck rubbing to be a major problem, its a problem but nothing compared to all the young trees they have munched to death.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:40AM
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Scott & I are sorta in the same boat. I live out in the sticks & own about 28 acres of property. Only a few acres of that are cleared to provide something of a front & back yard, haha. It would be too much of a complication for us to fence the place in, because the cleared land isn't symetrical. Plus, we have numerous trails (& the driveway, not to mention) running all through the woods. As you can see, putting up a fence would also mean putting up several gates.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I should also have mentioned I have about 300 trees crammed into my yard all over, so I can't protect individual trees. If you only have a few trees you can protect individual trees as Rob mentions. If the individual protector method can't work for whatever reason, I would recommend the ScareCrow sprinklers.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 4:26PM
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bait them and shoot. put in freezer.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 6:04PM
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An inexpensive solution for a few trees is to make a circle of 5' or 6' wide concrete reinforcing mesh (6"x6" openings) around each tree. It is sold in rolls at the big box building stores. The advantages of this stuff are: that it is fairly cheap compared to most fencing. It is uncoated, so will rust making it less noticeable. And it is stiff enough to stand up without support posts.

I have been using this in a high deer pressure area for 10 yrs, and it is 95% successful. You need to expand the circle as the tree grows, otherwise the deer will "trim" any branches which grow out or close to the wire. All of the losses are where I was a bit slow to expand the circle and the deer could reach in. I also use steel edge pins to pin the circle down, so that wind does not move it (and the deer can't push it in/around to reach the tree.

So far, has been the best and least costly deer protection I've found.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:29PM
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The best single strategy to keep deer away from Fruit Trees may be proper fencing. Many homeowners however, do not want to install fencing due to how it will look on their property.

An alternative may be the use of a couple of strategies in order to keep the deer away. Other posters have mentioned the Scarecrow Motion Sprinklers. They are a good choice for warmer seasons in areas that have a constant water source supplied by a hose under pressure.

One other strategy that can be used in conjunction with the other deterrents such as the Scarecrow or by itself are Deer Repellent Packs. This easy to use, all natural product uses the deer's keen sense of smell and fear of predators to keep them away from your trees and landscaping. You can check them out at the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Repellent to Keep Deer Away from Trees

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:17AM
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I've been using the same method Steve does. That large opening makes it easy to reach in to prune or whatever. Big roll costs about $120 but I fenced approx 25 trees with it so it seems reasonable. I bought mine at Home Depot. Lowes has the same wire but it seems to be galvanized (won't rust) but the roll costs about 40 bucks more.

I know most of you will cringe but I live in a heavily populated area very near the actual city and have the locally rare luxury of a garden that backs up onto a steep hillside that is too steep to easily build upon. We actually like the deer when they visit and can tell most of them apart. In addition to those individual fences I have several crops planted just for deer munching. Jerusalem artichoke grow at an insane rate, without control they reached 14 feet first year I grew them in the lower close to the house beds. Once I moved them back to the wilder sections the deer keep them trimmed to about a foot. I also grow a hosta that grows very large, very quickly, and self seeds like crazy. Deer just love it, thats fine by me. With those better choices deer pretty much leave the other stuff alone.

Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 6:51PM
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