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How do I stop deer from eating up my landscape?

"Odocoileus virginianus", otherwise known as White Tailed Deer live in just about every area of Michigan. The reason they're called "white -tailed" is that they raise their rear tails with a flash of white signaling to other deer when danger is nearby. Deer are graceful animals and are swift runners (up to 35 miles per hour). Male deer are called bucks, females are called does, and baby deer are known as fawns. Deer live in family style herds most of the time and can live to be 10 years old or older.

Deer will eat from just about every tree, shrub, or flower they can smell, see or taste and of course that they can reach. As the author of this article, an avid outdoorsman and professional arborist for over 40 years I can confirm that deer will eat just about anything if they're hungry enough. They will reach up as high as they can (which is about 7 feet) and keep on feeding time and again until there's nothing left but a trunk and some dried out branches.

Contrary to what some resources suggest, if hungry enough, deer will try just about anything for a food source. I've lived in my home now for almost 4 years and generally see 4-8 deer each day in my yard. As far as I have seen, deer will feed on even the most resistant of plants. When renovating my property I was determined to have a "deer resistant" landscape. I asked lots of questions to my friends from the DNR, surfed the internet and read many articles about what types of trees, shrubs, flowers and even ground covers I could plant that the deer would stay away from.

My experience proved deer will take a bite out of just about anything once they get use to the taste. The shrubs deer seem to stay away from the most is juniper and barberry. Deer will even take a bite out of boxwoods if there's nothing else to choose from. Even if deer don't appear to like a particular plant today doesn't mean in time they won't come to enjoy feeding on it at some point. Once deer find their next meal in your landscape they'll be back time and again unless otherwise deterred.

For the sake of research I tried some over the counter products which I admit offer some level of short term control. There were also some commercial grade products I tried but found them costly and included byproducts that I didn't want exposed to my yard.

Deer feeding can and is a serious challenge in the landscape.  The feeding habits these four legged friends can cause devastating damage or death to numerous species of trees, shrubs, and flowers. The economic impact can be overwhelming when it comes to having to remove and replace distorted plants. And, of course, we have to be concerned about the various ticks and diseases they introduce when they come feeding.

There are numerous products offering various levels of control. The best way to control deer damage in the landscape is to fence off the entire yard, but who wants to do that?  There are granular forms, sound enhancements, water sprays and other creative methods. However, after doing extensive research, Michigan State University and the Natural Resource Center in Connecticut both conclude there are a few products which work better than others.  

Here’s what You Should Know:

  • Treatment timing is very important, (mostly spring, early summer, early fall and late fall).

  • Method of application is vital to the treatment success.

  • Correct  plant coverage is extremely important (up to 7ft high).

  • Professional grade formulas will last up to 6 weeks and are rain resistant .

  • Alternating formulas really helps.

  • Granular treatments should also be considered as part of your yearly treatments.

  • Deer feeding habits change thus treatment options can change too.

  • High quality products are safe, offer zero human or animal health concerns and actually help enhance plant vigor.

Even if your neighbors want to keep replacing deer damaged shrubs doesn’t mean you have to!

Call Branch Tree Service today and schedule an onsite visit with one of our deer repellent treatment professionals who will work with you and your budget to set up a plan offering the best deer feeding protection possible.

Call Branch Tree Service, Inc. at 586-756-7737 or requesting a quote online.


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