Plant Predator Prevention
Deer can browse and scrape plants setting their growth back and misshaping them, rabbits may shear small branches and chew stems to the ground, and meadow voles can gnaw a ring around the trunk killing the plant outright.
Fortunately, not all plants are attractive to “plant predators” but if deer, rabbits, meadow voles, etc. are present on your property, you may want to consider protecting your plant investment.
What to do?
Meadow voles and other small critters can be deterred with a 6”-18” tall piece of corrugated black plastic drain tile or similar item cut lengthwise and placed around the trunk. Look for these at your local home improvement store. Remember to account for snow drifts that could provide critters a ramp right up and over your plastic tube. Another benefit of putting this around your plant is that it keeps mulch away from the trunk.
The only sure way to keep deer away from your plant is fencing. We recommend a 10’ to 12’ length of 6’ tall welded-wire fence, wrapped into a circle around your plant and secured to an 8’ T-post. Place the T-post on the west or northwest side of the plant to aid in resisting the prevailing winds.
Once your shrub or tree is big enough that deer and rabbits won’t directly eat it to the ground, buck-scrapes can still be an issue. This can be prevented by either keeping the fencing around your tree until the trunk is about as big around as your arm or by removing the fencing and placing corrugated black plastic drain tile from ground level up to the lowest branch and leaving it on until the trunk is about to outgrow the tube. By then, it will be too large to be scraped by bucks.