Hurricane Ian Response: Please be advised that we are prepared to respond to post-storm requests as soon as it is safe to do so. 

For some of us, deer in the yard linger long after the holidays as more than a whimsical decoration. Some areas have been experiencing heavy deer browsing, causing severe damage to plants.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), trees affected by deer browsing are more vulnerable to frost damage, weakened branches, disease, and insect infestation.

Though there are some plant species more preferable to deer than others, the threat of deer feeding continues to increase for a variety of species.

Fortunately, there are a few techniques you can use to manage deer browsing and reduce damage to your plants.

Deer Repellent

Repellents are commonly used to defend against deer feeding. Repellents can remain effective for 3 to 4 months under ideal situations, but keep in mind weather conditions can dissolve the repellent, shortening the length of protection.

If plants were treated with repellent earlier in the winter, reapplication may be necessary, especially if you’re seeing the damage.

Protective Devices

The NRCS recommends the use of bud caps or netting as a way to “hide” buds from the deer. The netting should be checked regularly to make sure branches aren’t beginning to grow through it.

Intimidation Tactics

Some scare tactics presented by NRCS may work for a short period of time when deer browsing is not consistent. Deer learn from negative feedback such as bad-tasting chemicals, noise, or lights. However, once deer get used to these scare tactics, they are no longer effective.

Non-Deer Resistant Plants & Deer Browsing

The best deer browsing management comes from the assessment of your property, looking at factors such as plant species and frequency of deer browsing based on where you live.

For example, in the Midwest and Northeast regions:

  • Deer browse on herbaceous plant material from April through October
  • Deer browse on woody plant material from November through March

But when it’s below zero temperatures, they will eat anything!

Here's a shortlist of non-deer-resistant plants:


  • Apples
  • Cheery


  • Arborvitae
  • Azaleas & Rhododendrons
  • Euonymus
  • Indian Hawthorne
  • Japanese Yew
  • Pittisporum
  • Roses


  • Daylilies
  • Hosta

Ground Covers

  • English Ivy


  • Pansies
  • Violas

Request a consultation with your local arborist to discuss management for your property

Related Blog Posts

Do Deer Eat Leyland Cypress
Property Maintenance & Landscaping

How to Protect & Repair Trees from Animals: Deer, Rabbits, Squirrels

Your trees are staples in your yard, and while you welcome wildlife, you’d hate to see them destroy these strong, sturdy plants in your yard. Here is how to protect your trees from animals.
Read More
Winterizing Cedar Trees
Property Maintenance & Landscaping

How To Protect Cedar Trees In Winter

Get all details here! How to best care for your cedar tree during cold, winter months with these tips on watering (how much and how often), when to wrap and unwrap cedar trees, and how to tell if your cedar tree is dying.
Read More

Sign Up For Free Tree & Landscaping Tips! 

Subscribe to the "The Sapling," the Davey Blog's email newsletter, for the latest tips to keep your outdoor space in tip-top shape throughout the year.

Plus, receive a free instant download of our landscape seasonal checklists when you sign up!

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Davey Tree on providing prompt, professional and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work and engage in your community. Contact one of our Davey Tree specialists for your residential, commercial, utility, or environmental needs.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!

Davey uses cookies to make your experience a great one by providing us analytics so we can offer you the most relevant content. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy for more information.