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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - June 04, 2008

From: Clovis, CA
Region: California
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Protection of redwoods from deer rutting
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a mountain home that we visit every other weekend. Are there any methods to protect redwoods from deer rutting that we can put in place since we are not there enough to spray repellent every few days or after it rains?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you mean damage to the trunk of your redwoods that the deer cause when they rub their antlers against the trunk to remove the itchy dry skin (velvet) before the rut. We have the same problem with small trees here in Texas, also. The deer love to rub their itchy antlers on young oaks and can completely girdle them and kiil them if the trunks aren't protected. There are several commercial products available:

Sentree Treeguard

Wraparound plastic tree guards

Corrugated plastic tree guards

Miracle Tubes

You can also make your own using heavy duty plastic mesh or metal wire (chicken wire or hardware cloth) from the hardware store. You will need to check frequently to be sure the guard hasn't become tight around the tree as the trunk expands. Also, you should be sure the guards offer plenty of ventilation so that moisture doesn't build up between the guard and the trunk or so that the guard doesn't provide a area for insects to collect.  Here is an article from University of New Hampshire, "Tree Guards for Tree and Shrub Protection" with instructions for making tree guards.  Their guards are geared towards smaller animal (rodents and rabbits) damage, but the height of the guard could be increased for deer. 

Another option is to build a small diameter (2-3 feet) fence around each tree using metal fence stakes and wire mesh. How practical this option is probably depends on how many trees you need to protect.

 

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