Deer and Plants

By Duane Friend

Fall and winter is a time of year when deer can wreak havoc on plants. There are several methods that can be used to reduce or eliminate this.

Exclusion, using various types of fences, is probably the best way to control deer damage in certain situations. Some of these fences are very effective and provide almost total control. However, large-scale installation of permanent fencing can be quite expensive.

Placing a 5-foot-tall wire cylinder around a plant can protect individual trees or plants. Tree protectors, plastic tree wrap, or woven wire cylinders can all help protect new plantings. Three 6-foot t-bar steel posts placed in an equilateral triangle around a tree can also be fairly effective even without fencing.

Repellents may temporarily reduce the damage that deer cause to vegetation, but will not eliminate it completely. Repellents must be applied before a pattern of damage has been established. This may prevent deer from eating the plant, but they will not deter damage caused by antler rubbing.

One of the keys to success with using frightening techniques is to take action at the first sign of a problem. Frightening techniques vary but may include: gas exploders (follow all storage guidelines), aluminum pie plates that bang together in the wind, scarecrows, lights, lanterns, radios, motion sensors for radio or light devices and dogs on leashes. The best results are obtained from utilizing a variety of these methods at the same time and changing them every couple of weeks.

If adding ornamental plantings to a yard, select plant species that are less susceptible to deer browsing. Some of the plants that seem to be less susceptible to deer include ornamental alliums, daffodils, and wild ginger. Also try planting thorny, prickly or smelly plants.

For more information, visit the University of Illinois Extension website Living with White Tail Deer in Illinois at

Share This

About the author

Duane is an Educator with University of Illinois Extension in the Calhoun/Cass/Greene/Morgan/Scott unit.

View all articles by Duane Friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.