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Monday - October 05, 2009

From: Woodbridge, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant evergreens for southern CT.
Answered by: Anne Bossart and Joe Marcus


We live on a deer path in southern Connecticut. What native evergreen tree can we plant which will not be eaten to death by the deer?


Well, you have brought up a very touchy subject.  There is absolutely nothing that deer won't eat when they are under pressure.  The loss of habitat and natural predators have resulted in deer ringing doorbells in the Northeast requesting access to the crisper once they have eaten the petunias from the planters.

This challenge has turned many gardeners into obssesed, crazed folks much like Bill Murray in the movie "Caddyshack".  I know: I've been one of them.  Others give up and move to condos.  If you do an internet search or open any garden magazine or supply catalogue you will find many articles dedicated to the subject and products for deterring deer.

That being said, deer do have preferences and they seem to be regional.  On one street they'll devour a plant and leave it alone on the next.  So my best advice is to inquire locally (neighbors, nurseries and Master  Gardener hotlines) as to what gardeners have had the most success with. In general, though, they prefer arborvitae and fir to hemlock and pine.  Hemlock is not a good choice in your area, however, as it is quite susceptible to woolly adelgid and short-lived.

Some gardeners enclose their newly-planted trees within a heavy, wire enclosure -- sort of a tree-sized "tomato hoop."  Not only can a hoop deter browsing, but it will prevent bucks from rubbing the bark off your young trees when they're shedding velvet from their antlers in the fall.  If erecting a hoop or building a fence at least 8 feet tall to exclude them is not a possibility, I recommend trying to ignore the problem.  You are living in their habitat and fighting a losing battle.



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