Tree guard deer repellant

Deer Repellent Review For Taste/Contact Mode of Action Repellents

Tree Guard® is a pre-mixed, ready-to-use deer repellent that sprays on milky and dries clear. The active ingredient, ®Bitrex Benzyldiethyl, Ammonium benzoate 0,20%
(Bitrex™), the most bitter substances known to man so it obviously makes a coated plant taste bad. Tree Guard® may be used on any non-food plant, and poses minimal risk to deer, plants, people, and the environment. Tree Guard uses a latex formulation to bond to plants.
Since Bitrex is known as the most bitter substance known, it can not be used on and will effect the taste of vegetables or any food crop. Do not apply to fruit trees. Do not use near driveways, sidewalks, or anything else that you don’t want to risk staining. A detection agent is also incorporated, permitting deer to identify which plants have been treated, eliminating the need for deer to taste your plants to detect the TREE GUARD.

As of April, 2010 We don’t know of any sources for Tree Guard and believe it has been removed from the market.
Bobbex is a foliar spray that feeds plants with a beef and fish byproduct 14-1-1 fertilizer while repelling deer. Contains garlic oil, acetic acid, cloves, gelletin, fish meal, edible fish oil, onions, eggs, vanillin, wintergreen oil, vitamin C and vitamin A. To protect evergreens in winter, apply monthly from November through March. When all plants are actively growing in spring and summer, spray foliage every two to three weeks and after a rain. An extra bonus is that it is said to repel Canadian geese also.
Bobbex Deer Repellent spray is a chemical-free, all-natural deer and animal repellent. Safe for you and the environment, safe for all animals, birds, fish and amphibians, this natural mixture is safe and effective against all deer, elk, and moose. The all-natural organic and recycled ingredients in Bobbex’s mixture will not burn skin or plants and offer bad taste and odor to large browsing, foraging four-legged animals. Bobbex also claims to work in all seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter, as well as having protective properties for plants against freeze burn in winter and drought in summer. Try this safe, natural, and effective deer repellent.

Plant Pro-Tec™
Plant Pro-Tec is a garlic oil barrier that deters deer and other animal pests, as well as whiteflies, spidermites, leafrollers, ants, aphids, thrips, grasshoppers and spiders. Mix with water and spray on your plants. Helps to deter pests for up to 10 days.
Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent – Manufactured by St. Gabriel Laboratories, It is made from capsaicin and other capsaicinoids from hot peppers and used to repel deer from vegetables and flowers. It would have to be scrubbed off of vegetables where the whole plant is eaten. It combines hot cayenne pepper extract with a food-grade wax that will last through rainfall. Sold both as concentrate and Ready-To-Use.(RTU)

Miller Hot Sauce – Hot pepper liquid of concentrated capsicum. Washes off easily and can be used on edible plants after it has had time to wash off. Works best as a cold weather repellent. Effective on fruits, nut trees, vegetables, vine crops and ornamentals. Mix 4 ounces of Hot Sauce with 1 Quart of Vapor Gard to 50 gallons of water.

Vapor Gard Vapor Gard is designed to extend the life of deer repellents or fruit and vegetable sprays. Vapor Gard is often used with Miller Hot Sauce as a rain resistant formula. It is diluted in a 20:1 part mixture.

Bird-X Scoot Deer Animal Repellent is a capsaicin pepper & castor oil spray solution that helps protect your garden, yard and shrubbery without endangering animals or the environment. Available in two (2)sizes; Gallon and Quart. The microencapsulating process allows Scoot Deer Repellent to remain effective after rain or watering and the new formula stays active for up 30 days.

Durapel®is a pre-mixed, spray-on deer repellent that works by coating plants with a latex substance that is white, but dries clear. It is weather resistant and only new growth needs to be treated once it is sprayed. It is safe around pets.

N.I.M.B.Y.made from castor oil and capsicum oleoresin is an emulsion of natural oils. It was originally developed for the power utility industry, it has now been tested for years in gardens across the US.

Deer tear off tree bark by rubbing their antlers against the trunk

What are those scrape marks on my tree?!

Deer damage to trees is the result of bucks rubbing and scraping their antlers against trees which causes significant damage to the tree’s vascular system. Deer do this to remove the velvet from their antlers and it usually occurs from early fall into winter.

Deer also rub trees during the mating season to attract females or to mark their territory, warning other males to stay away. This activity can result in broken branches and torn tree bark.

So, what can you do about it?

Keep Deer Away from Your Trees

Since deer usually return to the same location, it’s important to know how to protect your trees from deer, especially if the trees have previously been damaged.

The best thing you can do to protect your trees from deer antler rubbing is to prevent the deer from getting close to the tree trunk or branches. This can be done surrounding your trees with deer fencing or using other barriers that offer deer rub tree protection. Repellent sprays are generally not effective for deer rub problems.

>> However, sprays ARE effective at preventing deer browsing. If deer are eating your plants, give us a call at 203-240-1302 to learn how we can save your trees, shrubs and garden beds from hungry deer.

A wire or plastic mesh sleeve can be effective in preventing deer rub damage

Use Deer Fencing for Multiple Trees

Fencing is the most effective way to protect trees from deer as it keeps them away from the entire tree (including branches and leaves, which hungry deer may be tempted to eat if they can reach it). If you have many trees, surround the entire area with woven-wire fencing. However, in order to be effective, it must be at least six to eight feet tall. Deer are great jumpers and will clear vertical fences without difficulty.

Use Tree Guards to Protect Individual Trees

Another way to provide protection is to wrap the tree trunk itself with chicken wire or one of the commercially available types of plastic tree guards.

Some tree guards are made of mesh plastic netting. Others are created from a vinyl spiral that wraps around the trunk but still allows it to grow naturally. They are usually available in rolls and can be cut to the required length. Because they can be cut to size, these types of tree guards work well on larger trees, as well as small ones.

A plastic sleeve wraps around the tree trunk to deer can’t reach the bark

Plastic tubes or pipes that have been cut down one side (lengthwise) can also be fitted around the trunks of trees in an effort to protect trees from deer. This works best for smaller diameter trees. Be sure to choose a plastic that’s white or light in color so it does not produce heat against the tree trunk from the sun.

These wraps and pipes can also protect the tree trunk from sunscald caused by intense sun reflecting off the snow, which has been known to blister or crack the bark.

If you’re having problems with deer eating your trees and shrubs, check out our article on preventing deer damage.

Deer Rubbing Tree Bark: Protecting Trees From Deer Rubs

Deer are majestic creatures when they’re bounding through open fields and frolicking in someone else’s woods. When they come into your yard and start damaging trees, they become something else entirely. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your saplings from deer damage.

Why are Deer Rubbing Antlers on Trees?

Living close to nature can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but even the most dedicated lovers of wildlife may get pretty frustrated when they discover the local deer rubbed bark off trees in their yard. Not only does this behavior cause unsightly damage, it can permanently disfigure or kill young trees.

Male deer (bucks) grow a new set of antlers each year, but they don’t start out as the horn-like head gear that normally springs to mind. Instead, those male deer have to rub away a velvety covering in order to reveal their antlers in all their glory. This rubbing behavior typically starts in early fall, with the male deer running the surfaces of their horns against saplings that are anywhere from one to four inches in diameter.

Aside from the obvious visual deterioration, deer rubbing tree bark is very bad for the tree they’re rubbing on. Peeling back just the bark can open the tree up to damage from pests and disease, but typical deer damage doesn’t stop there. Once the rub has gotten through the cork layer, the delicate cambium is at risk. This tissue layer is where both xylem and phloem, the transport tissues every tree needs to survive, develop. If just one section of the tree’s cambium is damaged, it might survive, but deer will often rub most of the way around a tree, causing the plant to slowly starve.

Protecting Trees from Deer Rubs

Although there are a number of popular ways to scare deer away from gardens, a determined male deer in rut isn’t going to be bothered by a banging pie tin or the smell of soap hanging from your tree. To keep deer from rubbing trees, you’ll need a much more hands-on approach.

Tall woven wire fences are extremely effective, especially if they’re erected around the tree in such a way that the deer can’t jump inside and they’re supported by very strong posts. Just make sure that the wire is far enough away from the tree that it can’t be bent into the tree’s bark if a buck were to attempt to rub through the fence – this will make the situation a lot worse.

When you’ve got lots of trees to protect or aren’t sure about building a fence around your trees, a plastic trunk wrap or strips of rubber tubing are your best bet. These materials protect the tree from deer damage without causing damage of their own when force is applied to their surfaces. If you decide to use a tree wrap, make sure it reaches a point about five feet off the ground and leave it up through the winter.

Recognising types of mammal damage to trees and woodland

Every stage of tree growth may be attacked by one or more species of mammal. Often a species may cause damage at several growth stages. Most mammal damage to trees is from either:

  • Browsing – feeding on buds, shoots and foliage
  • Bark stripping from main stems or branches – gnawing or rubbing.

When trying to identify the cause of damage, the most important things to look for are:

  • Form of damage (i.e. browsing, gnawing or rubbing)
  • Height of damage
  • Time of year when damage occurred
  • Presence and size of teeth marks
  • Signs of animal presence and abundance – droppings, footprints, runs, scrapes or burrows.

Points to note:

  • Lack of teeth in front upper jaw of all deer species produces ragged edge on damaged twigs
  • The teeth of rabbits and hares produce a sharp knife like cut. Muntjac may bite partly through thin tall stems and pull them down to eat
  • Sheep and deer browsing damage is often very similar in form but sheep tend to leave wool evidence
  • Fraying is a rubbing injury caused when male deer rub new antlers to remove ‘velvet’ or to mark territories.

The following three tables show the main characteristics of damage by:

A: Wild deer
B: Other wild mammals including rabbits, hares, squirrels, mice, voles, edible dormice, moles and badgers
C: Domestic livestock

Brackets in the ‘age of trees’ column denote damage is uncommon.

Table A: Wild deer

Species Age of trees affected Typical signs of damage to trees Comments; damage to other parts of woodland etc.
Red deer
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Browse seedlings to thicket stage
  • Fraying and rubbing on bark up to 1.8m
  • Damage to poor fences
  • Severe damage to herb layer
Sika deer
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Browse seedlings to thicket stage
  • Scoring of pole stage trunks
  • Fraying and rubbing on bark up to 1.8m
Fallow deer
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • (Mature)
  • Browse seedlings to thicket stage
  • Fraying bark up to 1.5m
  • May pull up recently planted trees
  • Severe damage to herb layer
Roe deer
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Browse seedlings to thicket stage
  • Fraying bark up to 1.2m
  • Severe damage to herb layer
Muntjac deer
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Browse seedlings to thicket stage
  • Fraying bark up to 1m
  • May partly bite through taller stems and pull down to browse
  • Capable of severe damage to herb layer

Top of page.

Table B: Other wild mammals

Species Age of trees affected Typical signs of damage to trees Comments; damage to other parts of woodland etc.
Voles (bank & field)
  • Seedling
  • Establishment
  • Eating seeds, seedlings, root cutting of young planted stock
  • Ringbarking up to 10cm
  • Teethmarks only 2mm wide
  • Bank vole will climb saplings and eat bark around base of branch
  • Typical runways in grass with dropping and cut grass piles evident
  • Nests in tree shelters
Mice (wood, yellow-necked & house)
  • Seedling
  • Establishment
  • Eating seeds, seedlings,
  • Seed stores
  • Nests in tree shelters or under mulch mats
Grey squirrel
  • Seedling
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Stripping bark anywhere on stem or branches of pole stage and mature trees
  • Bark stripping at bottom 50cm of stem may be confused with rabbit damage
  • Eating larger seeds
  • Predation of bird nests
Edible dormouse
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Spiral bark stripping at branch bases
  • Very restricted range
  • Hibernates below ground
  • Compete for tree holes
  • Establishment
  • Seedling
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • (Mature)
  • Cutting stems of planted saplings
  • Ringbarking bottom 50cm of stem
  • Burrows assist windblow
  • Sharp angled knife-like cuts on end of small stems or branches
  • Removed portion often eaten
  • Most vegetation in area around burrow often grazed very low
Hare (mountain & brown)
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Often sporadic but widespread
  • May eat along a row of young trees
  • Damage up to 70cm
  • Pole stage
  • Mature
  • Setts under roots
  • Limited bark damage
  • Create holes under fences for other pests to gain entry
  • Seedling
  • Establishment
  • Tunnelling may cause desiccation of seedlings and transplant roots
  • Soil heaps may bury young plants
  • Assists drainage of gley soils

Top of page.

Table C: Domestic livestock

Species Age of trees affected Tree and other collateral damage
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • (Pole stage)
  • Removal of ground vegetation
  • Browsing and bark stripping
  • Newly planted trees may be pulled out
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Removal of ground vegetation
  • Browsing and bark stripping
  • Newly planted trees may be pulled out
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • Removal of ground vegetation and newly planted trees or natural regeneration
  • Treading impacts may be detrimental to roots or beneficial by providing nutrient and germination patches
  • Coarse browsing of foliage to 1.5 m
  • Newly planted trees may be pulled out
Pigs & feral boar
  • Seedling
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • Pole stage
  • (Mature)
  • Removal of large seeds, ground vegetation and natural regeneration
  • Browsing and root damage by grubbing
  • Digging rabbit burrows, holes created under fences
  • Rubbing on trunks
  • Establishment
  • Thicket
  • (Pole stage)
  • Newly planted trees may be pulled out
  • Browsing to 2 metres
  • Bark stripping with characteristic diagonal teeth marks from both jaws
  • Grazing shrubs and ground flora

Top of page.

What’s of interest

Further reading
Several Forestry Commission publications covering mammal management in more detail. Some are available for downloading.

Related pages

  • Management of Grey squirrels
  • Impacts of large herbivores on woodlands


Deer did this deforming “pruning” damage to a row of arborvitae.

(George Weigel)

Q: I want to add some evergreen trees to my 14 acres of woods. Are there some pines, firs or other evergreens that will grow well that deer will not eat?

A: Deer affect the planting equation big-time because they can mow down young trees almost as soon as you plant them.

You’d think deer wouldn’t eat plants with stiff or jaggy needles or with gummy, bitter texture and flavor. In fact, a lot of our needled evergreens really aren’t deer favorites.

The problem is needled evergreens are some of the few plants with any green vegetation left during a long, cold winter. Since deer don’t hibernate and since so much of the tastier fare is bare by November, that’s when deer start munching on the best of what’s left.

Hungry enough, a deer will eat just about anything rather than starve. I believed that the first time I saw a deer-stripped holly bush. If a deer can eat something leathery and spiny like that, he/she can get down anything.

Although there’s no such thing as a deer-proof plant, there are deer-resistant varieties, i.e. ones deer are least likely to eat.

If you have some open clearings where young trees will get full sun and have good drainage, you’ll have a lot to pick from.

Some of my favorites are Japanese red cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii var. leucodermis), Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Korean fir (Abies koreana), Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana), Norway spruce (Picea abies), Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis), and weeping Alaska-cedar (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis).

A second good rung includes concolor fir (Abies concolor), Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens), Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii), and Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra).

That covers a host of sizes from narrow to full and about 18 feet tall to more than 60 feet tall.

I think it’s a good idea to mix the species and go with increased diversity as opposed to picking one species and planting a mass of those. That “hedges your bet” in case something comes along to affect your species of choice.

The selection gets tougher if you have shade or part shade. The firs, Japanese red cedar, Hinoki cypress and Norway spruce are the best choices in part shade. None of the above evergreens grow well or densely in deep shade.

Hemlock is one of the most shade-tolerant species, but it’s very prone to a potentially fatal bug called woolly adelgids.

Douglas fir is widely available and somewhat shade-tolerant, but it’s becoming very prone to needled disease.

Arborvitae, yews and hollies also are somewhat shade-tolerant but are the most likely to suffer deer damage.

Rutgers University has an excellent list of plants rated by their deer-resistance, if you want to see how each species rates.

Forest Foods Deer Eat

The white-tailed deer is our most popular game animal, enjoyed by 700,000 Michigan hunters and countless others interested in photographing or simply viewing these animals. As a hunter trying to optimize the chance of success or a landowner wishing to improve land for deer, you should be observant of deer activity and learn to identify the foods on which deer depend.

Food sources available in the fall, winter, and early spring are most critical to deer because they affect body condition, winter survival, and reproduction. During these seasons, deer browse on the leaves, needles, buds, and twig ends of trees and shrubs. Studies by wildlife biologists indicate deer prefer particular plants and dislike or will not eat others at least not until the preferred foods are no longer available,

This guide is designed to help you identify some woody plants of high, moderate, and low importance to deer. By learning to “key” in on areas with preferred foods and with signs of browsing, you can enhance your chances of seeing deer. Remember, look for browsed vegetation from ground level to about five feet in height. Rabbits also browse low twigs, but use by the two species can be distinguished easily.

Woodlands are dynamic, changing from year to year. As trees grow, a maturing forest provides far less food than its previous young, brushy phase which occurred shortly after logging. What you remember as good deer habitat 15 years ago is probably poor habitat today. Use this guide to determine the feeding conditions at your favorite deer hunting or viewing area.

Preferred Deer Foods

White Cedar (Arbor Vitae) – Evergreen with flat scalelike “leaves.” Some varieties used for ornamental shrubbery. A swamp tree but it can grow on moist upland. In many areas browsing deer have eaten practically all cedar within reach.

White Pine – The only Michigan pine with five needles in a cluster. Young trees have smooth dark green bark. Deer will eat white pine before they take other pines.

Maples – Trees with buds opposite each other Sugar maple has brownish or gray twigs with brown pointed buds. Red maple has red twigs and reddish rounded buds and is better deer food.

Yellow Birch – The bark of young tree , and twigs is brownish turning yellowish-gray and curling up when older. Pointed buds. Twigs taste like wintergreen. Young yellow birch looks like ironwood (a poor deer food), but ironwood has no wintergreen taste.

Dogwoods and Viburnums – Shrubs that generally have opposite buds like maples. Red dogwood has bright red twigs. Other species have reddish green, brown, or gray twigs. Viburnum buds are many different shapes.

Sumac – Shrub commonly found in old fields and forest openings. Heavy, stiff, brown twigs and branches. One kind is fuzzy and resembles antlers in velvet. Another kind is smooth. Bunches of fuzzy red fruit at the top of all sumac plants.

Medium Quality Foods

Aspen – This tree is, also called “popple” or “poplar” and is one of the most common Michigan trees. Trembling aspen has whitish, greenish gray bark and long pointed shiny buds Big toothed aspen has yellow green bark and fatter, fuzzy buds. Balm of Gilead (a poor deer food) looks similar, but has gray-green bark with bin sticky end buds and grows in wet areas.

Jack Pine – A small needled tree. Needles, 2 in a bundle are 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Young stands provide good winter cover, but only fair deer food.

Oaks – Buds at ends of twigs are clustered and only moderate in food value, but acorns provide excellent deer food.

Ash – Green to light brownish gray, stiff, smooth stems with opposite, dark brown and black buds. Side buds close to end bud. Black ash is a swamp species. White ash prefers upland sites.

White Birch – This is the common “paper” or “canoe” birch. Bark on young stems is a shiny orange brown color that gradually turns white and “papery.”

Witch-Hazel – Look for the unusual-shaped light brown buds. Yellow crinkly flowers can be seen in the fall along the sterns.

“Starvation” Deer Foods

Spruce – Conical evergreen with stiff, sharp, 4 sided needles. Buds are not sticky. Deer will eat spruce only as last resort.

Beech – Light gray smooth bark. Long pointed buds. Leaves may stay on till spring.

Red Pine – Needles 2 in a cluster, 4 to 6 inches long. Michigan’s longest needled pine and a tree that has very little food value for deer.

Balsam Fir – Evergreen with flat needles, 3/4″ to 1 inch long. Smooth dark green bark with resin “blisters.” Sticky buds at ends of twigs. A swamp species also found on moist uplands.

Tag Alder – A large shrub growing in wet places. Dark greenish brown stems covered with spots. Buds on short stalks. Catkins or “cones” may be present in the fall.

Leather Leaf – A bog shrub broadleaf evergreen. Under sides of leaves are rough. Labrador Tea (a better deer food) is found in the same places and its stems and the bottoms of its leaves are covered with a rusty ”wool.”

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Saturday – June 07, 2008

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant groundcover under pine trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton


what kind of ground covering can be planted under pine trees (acid soil) that the deer will not eat and will not attract bees?


That’s a pretty big order, but Mr. SP will see what he can come up with! You can see aFact Sheet on Deer Feeding Habitsfrom the Maryland Cooperative Extension, Deer Resistant Perennials OH 64 from University of Vermont Extension System and also a list ofDeer Tolerant/Resistant Native Plantsfrom Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Ferns are on all the lists among the plants mentioned that deer avoid. Since ferns aren’t flowering plants (they reproduce from spores) they aren’t going to attract bees. Ferns generally like acidic soil and many of them are evergreen. There are several choices for ferns that grow in Pennsylvania. Here are some recommended fern species that are evergreen and grow in acidic soils:

Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)

Dryopteris cristata (crested woodfern)

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Here are some other low-growing plants that are on the deer-resistant list and grow in the shade in acidic soil. There is no guarantee that these plants will be bee free.

Actaea pachypoda (white baneberry)

Actaea rubra (red baneberry)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry evergreen

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry evergreen

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