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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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September 9, 2019

Deer Damage



Deer damage begins in August and September.  Now is the time to start preparing for deer damage to your shade trees. Trunk protection should be in place by the first part of August on all trees less than 10″ in diameter and certainly the newly planted trees in the 3-4” diameter range.  Bucks rub their antlers along the trunks of trees to remove their velvet, establish their territories and prepare for the rut.  They like the thin wooded, softer species but they will attack all trees and this will continue through a good part of the fall. The trunk protection should be on all winter and needs to be removed in April. If it is left on all summer, the trunk will get too soft and we find that there are a lot of insects that hide underneath that through the growing season. Be very careful about removing the trunk protection before the end of winter because there could be some freeze damage and sunburn on the southwest side of the tree.  Many maples and other thin-barked ornamentals have had the entire bark stripped off and large sections of trunk ripped apart.  One destructive rampage can leave trees irreparably damaged. So be prepared and protect those trees! A deer can destroy a shade tree in an overnight period.

Damage can also be observed on most of the plant material in your yards as the deer graze from yard to yard eating annuals, perennials, shrubs and garden produce they may come across.  We found that the list of “deer resistant” plant material diminishes.  So far, we’ve been safe with Green Giant arborvitaes and boxwoods.  Now, they’re starting to nibble slightly on the Green Giants but not as freely as the yews, junipers, spruces and pines. Over the wintertime when their food sources are limited they will eat anything.

Deer fencing placed around a tree trunk can be effective as long as it is properly installed and secure.  Also it should not hinder tree growth or damage the tree.  There are several malodorous deterrent sprays which can be successful, but you must reapply often.   Many times, simply spreading Milorganite over your groundcovers, perennials, and daylily beds is enough to keep the deer from munching.  We have several different treatment options, so please call us if we can help with your deer issues!


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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.