The Damage that Deer Do

The Damage that Deer Do

Imagine my anguish when the other day I walked around the yard and saw strips of bark peeled off the trees due to the damaging effects of the deer. These furry four-legged creatures are so majestic to watch and observe as they scamper through the fields. The problem is our yard isn’t a field! You probably remember my post the other day ranting about the damage they did. now you can get a look at it. The first set of pictures is our poor purple leaf plum tree. While I’m upset about its current state I know that it will rebound fine. Purple leaf plum trees grow very fast and since I moved it too a more deer distant location the leaves and branches should rebound. Unfortunately the flowers might not be as impressive next year as I had hoped but it will survive.

Here’s where I begin to wonder what will live and what will die. Daddy deer took several swipes at our maple trees, dogwood and Yoshino tree with his antlers of anarchy. As you can see I’ve managed to wrap them with a rudimentary measure of protection. The black plastic mesh might be all I need to keep the deer from sharpening his antlers on the young trees. Let’s hope so! I’m tempted to get some corrugated drainage tubes to wrap around the trees. It may not look so hot but it should prevent the rutting damage from continuing.

My next task is to figure out a way to aid the trees in the healing process. The first step is to trim the rough edges around the wounds. If there were enough of the shaved bark lying around the tree it might be possible to reattach it and tape it down with masking tape. Unfortunately that bark looks more like hamster bedding than bark. I’ve read that you should avoid adding a dressing on top of the wound so I won’t do that but I am tempted to remove some bark from the branches of other maples and essentially graft it to the tree. We have a few silver maples that should make good donor subjects and if I only use bark from the branches and not the main trunk I shouldn’t hurt those trees. Perhaps a transplant from a donor tree is in order!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I hope your trees survive the damage done Dave. I can imagine your frustration at this point. Nature isn’t always kind to gardeners.

  2. What a shame! They are beautiful creatures for sure, but they can be destructive. I hope your trees rebound okay. I know you can buy a “sealant” for applying to the ends of branches you prune…might something like that help those larger wounds?

  3. I hope the trees survive the damage. Deer can incredibly destructive in the garden, I’ve discovered ( my sister had all her roses eaten this summer and her veggie patch destroyed by marauding deer.)

  4. Hello Dave;

    Thanks for your work on the Fall Color Project. I appreciated the opportunity to participate and have met some new gardening friends as a result.

    I understand your deer problem. A few years back I added a page to my site because so many people asked about gardening in the company of deer. Try this:

    In smaller gardens I really do recommend Tree Guard because it lasts a good 14-16 weeks, even in heavy rain. A good source is Forestry Suppliers.Only good for flowers, trees, shrubs–not for edibles.

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Flower Farm

  5. Hi, Dave,
    You have my sincere sympathy. Deer are cute but very destructive in the home garden. You might try packing wet mud on the spots made bare by the deer's antler antics. I believe it will stick and will dry in position (if the deer don't come back). The mud could provide protective cover and allow the tree to re-grow some covering and life lines.

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