View Full Version : OT: Deer Ate our Arborvitae...calling all landscaping enthusiasts!!

07-11-2006, 11:10 AM
Okay, admittedly this may seem to be an odd question/topic. This winter, deer ate a 300' row of arborvitae along oneside of our backyard property line...each tree was eaten down to the bare branches from the ground up to a height of about 5 feet...leaving the tops of the shrubs full. One day the shrubs were full...next day...not so full!!

We trimmed about 2' off the top of each shrub, hoping it would encourage the bottom of each shrub to "fill in". Will it work? Or, are these shrubs done for? We thought it might be worth a shot...short of digging up the row and replanting...certainly, it was the budget approach at this point. They had been such a nice privacy barrier, too!! Argggh!!! Anything else we might be able to do to encourage the shrubs to fill in?

Any similar experiences, advice, etc...greatly appreciated!!!

8 Ears
07-11-2006, 04:27 PM
Although I do not have a clue about your shrubs growing :sad2: sorry I do have a tip for you for this winter :goodvibes Try hanging Ivory soap and/or human hair from your local hairdresser on your shrubs. They also do not like the tin bottoms from pie shells. :wizard: Hope these help :thumbsup2
:rotfl: Oops, forgot to tell you to put the hair in old nylon stockings, THEN hand it on your shrubs

07-11-2006, 04:30 PM
Do you see any buds forming at all on the bare branches, like something is trying to grow, or have they been bare since winter? Also, are any of the other branches (greenery) turning orange or brown?

07-11-2006, 05:07 PM
Thanks for the quick replies!!

8Ears...thanks...great suggestions...I think we will definitely need to put some sort of deterrent in place for the late fall and winter...the deer are so beautiful to see, but now i can truly appreciate the damage they can do!!

rainy~daze...the untouched tops are very green, healthy and full...on about 75% of the row, green is returning/budding on the bottom branches....the last few shrubs (closest to the woods behind us) are healthy on top, but "woody" on the bottom---no real buds showing up. I'm guessing the deer really went to town on those since they were a "safe" distance from our house. We planted the arborvitae about 7 years ago and they filled in so nicely...pretty much into a hedge-like border. Now there is about a 0ne foot gap between each shrub. Nothing seems to be turning orange or brown...at least not YET!! Any thoughts? Is there hope? The thought of digging them up and replanting new shrubs is not pretty!!


07-11-2006, 05:20 PM
Use some MIracle Grow on them to encourage growth, and to deter deer safely and naturally, mis a few tablespoons of red chili powder in a quart of water. Shake well and spray the shrubs liberally. Repeat after any rain. They HATE it, but it won't harm them or any kids who might come across it.


07-11-2006, 09:09 PM
The one plant that the deer do not eat at my mom's is Foxglove.

07-11-2006, 11:39 PM
cutting some growth from the tops as you did may give you some hope. there is a chance it will encourage the growth from the bottom branches, because when you shorten the tree from the top, they grow 'fatter'. Give them the season to try to grow in some, before resorting to pulling them all out. They still have a chance, since they are not dead from what you are saying. I have to get the name from my husband again, but there is a product you can use that deer really hate.

07-12-2006, 09:04 AM
This might not be the best advice but feed them deer corn.

Just yesterday I got a few more bags (3-50lb) of deer corn to feed them (which should last about 8 weeks). We have at least 3 deer and 1 little fawn (so cute) that come into the backyard every day - usually between 11am-7pm to eat. They will even come into the yard even if we are on the screen porch or very close to the house. They will also use the salt lick - although this is a last resort for them. My neighbors used to also feed them but since she stopped they are eating some of her liriope (monkey grass) now. They haven't touched anything that's not deer corn on our property - they like eating it from a tin bucket.

I like to see them along with all the other things we have - hummingbirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, etc.

8 Ears
07-12-2006, 10:04 AM
I would just caution people about feeding deer as it is not legal here. People do but then you see their names in the paper with a hefty fine beside it. Also, you may be calling ticks closer to your house. May be different from state to state. Good luck in in the re-growth of your shrubs. :)

07-12-2006, 01:27 PM

Sorry to say, I asked my DH the landscape architect and he said your arborvitaes will never grow back. You may as well pull them out now and cut your losses before you spend any money on attempted remediation. He said replace them with Leyland Cypress which have a similar look but which are not attractive to deer. :confused3

07-12-2006, 02:15 PM

Sorry to say, I asked my DH the landscape architect and he said your arborvitaes will never grow back. You may as well pull them out now and cut your losses before you spend any money on attempted remediation. He said replace them with Leyland Cypress which have a similar look but which are not attractive to deer. :confused3

Thanks for that tip--I was thinking about putting in a row of arbor vitae in my yard, but we do have deer frequent us quite often, so now I guess I'll have to change course. So sorry for the poster who lost all those shrubs.

07-12-2006, 02:34 PM
I'm going to check into that. I would have never thought that it could possibly be illegal. The guy across the street has been feeding them for years and they will even eat out of his hands. The lady next door used to feed them and the people that lived here before us fed them. They even told us where to go get the deer corn.

Sorry, if I steered anyone wrongly, but that's what seems to be able to have lots of people around here keep their flower beds.

07-12-2006, 04:41 PM
Arborvitae are like candy to deer. You can try going to your local farmers co-op and ask for deer resistant (notice I said resistant) plants for your area. With that in mind I've planted $1k's of dollars worth of deer resistant plants and some days they will eat them no matter what (and there is no lack of food here 60+acres of forest but they love my house). One Xmas morning we woke up to the deer fence (metal) around our house knocked to the ground and they ate all the leyland cypress to a nub.

07-12-2006, 09:37 PM
The previous owners of our house, in attempt to shield new buyers from the 6 neighbor kids next door put a row of Arborvitae in.

We have a small woods behind our house. Unfortunately for the deer, they have been clearing lots of land for condo's and houses in my immediate area. This has shoved all the deer in less space.

The first winter, the deer skinned the 1st arborbitae, and munched a little on the next 2.

The next year they scalped the first 3.

Last winder, they scalped the first 4 and munched on the next couple.

We put the ever green miracle grow sticks into the ground, for fertilizer in the spring. Right now, we have green on all the arborvitae. Now, like you said we have bushy tops, and slender sections towards the bottom. But they haven't died yet and this has been going on for 3 years.

I'll probably put some more fertilizer out soon, to keep encouraging the scalped trees to grow faster at the end towards the woods.

One year we tried something called deer off. It was super smelly, and didn't help the situation at all. The deer are hungry, when it snows is when the worst munching occurs, as their food is covered up. They will still eat the trees (well they ate ours).

We tried the hair thing, for me it didn't seem to work, not sure how often you need to do that or exactly how much you need to put out on the tree.

We put a deer resistant evergreen to block our view of the eaten up arborvitae. We could tell a couple buds were eaten off that tree, but nothing like the arborvitae.
We aren't about to yank the eaten ones, because next season they will just get closer to the house and scalp those. They are 10 feet tall, so I'm not planning on replacing them because next year they will be eaten too. We are thinking about putting in some more trees, landscaping that is deer resistant in front of them so we don't have to look at the scalped trees.

We have neighbors who fed the deer before the snow and before it got cold, so they were essentially tracking the deer into our yard. In the winter you can see the deer tracks at the backs of the yards.
One night there was a buck in the front yard of one of the houses, i suspect munching on some untrimmed bushes.

To feed or not to feed the deer? It attracks more deer, but it keeps them out of your bushes, that is until you have more deer stopping by than food you put out every day. It gets expensive feeding the deer too!

We've seen up to 10-12 deer at one time in the woods right behind the house in the winter, but we know there are a heck of a lot more back there, along with all the other woodland creatures if you feed. Like the squirells, birds, chipmunks, opossums(sp?), moles, and the evil racoons who keep trying break my bird feeders.
Good luck with your deer situation.

If anyone has a good suggestion for getting rid of racoon's that come out to feed on the bird feeder during the day let me know.


07-13-2006, 11:33 AM
Good Morning and thanks for all of your feedback.
Like zumbergc...I believe more deer finally came into our yard this year b/c quite a bit of more secluded wooded area was cleared on the next street over to put up new homes... Based on some of your experiences/responses, we'll have to try some combination of deterrents and more deer-resistant shrubs and keep our fingers crossed!! Mickman1962...we had been thinking of some type of snow fencing along both sides of the row for the late fall and winter...that must have been pretty frustrating that they knocked right through your fencing! It sounds like it is going to be difficult to out-wit them... esp. if they are hungry and trying to survive the winter.

Thanks for all of your concern and input!!


07-13-2006, 08:05 PM
And Leyland Cypress get bag worms.