large buck against forest trees

If deer are a pest in your yard, consider installing tree protectors this fall around the trunks of young trees. Unfortunately, bucks can cause significant damage to trees by rubbing their antlers against the tree trunks. They do this to mark their territory and to remove the velvet from their antlers. Deer may continue to polish their antlers by rubbing up and down the trunk. Trees with smooth bark, such as maples, are the most susceptible to damage. Damaged trees, especially young trees, cannot properly transport nutrients and water, which is vital for the tree’s survival.

The best way to protect young tree trunks from deer rub is to install tree guards around the trunks now. Stadler recommends the type of guard pictured here and we use them in our nursery growing fields. Tree guards also protect from groundhog damage. We do not recommend using tree wraps because the plastic can be rubbed into the bark of the tree trunk causing even greater damage. Plastic wraps also do not allow for the same air and light circulation that tree guards provide. 

If you need to protect a multi-trunk tree, such as a crape myrtle, birch or serviceberry, you can make a cage to surround the tree using 5’ tree stakes and chicken wire. 

There is no need to remove the trunk protection in the spring if you don’t want to. You can leave the protection on until the trunk is at least 5-6” in diameter. Of course, you will want to remove the protection before the trunk begins to outgrow it.

Tree Protector