Many homeowners plant arborvitae because they are evergreens that offer amazing privacy all year long. They are easy to take care of, and they grow in most soil types.
Deer do love to snack on different varieties of arborvitae, but there are a few that are deer-resistant. When deer eat this plant, they choose the tips of the branches because they love the new growth.
The problem is that this stunts the plant’s ability to develop as the plant needs the following year to grow it back. If the deer eats all of the foliage from a branch, there is a good chance that it will never grow back.
Once deer find food in your yard, they are going to keep coming back until you find a way to deter them. One possibility is to choose deer-resistant plants, and there are a few varieties of arborvitae that are.
What Varieties of Arborvitae Are Deer-Resistant?
There are several varieties of arborvitae that are resistant to deer. You can plant the “Can-Can” western red cedar, which is a dwarf arborvitae. It is pest-free, and it is a dwarf plant.
It has deep green foliage with cream-colored tips, and they are thick. It grows about seven feet tall and five feet wide.
This tree does well in soil that is moist and well drained, and it can use any pH soil. It also wants full to partial sun.
This tree is great for people who want privacy that isn’t too tall, and it grows well in zones five through eight.
Another deer-resistant variety is the “Spring Grove” western red cedar. This is a much taller tree, as it grows to anywhere from 20 to 50 feet tall.
It can be as much as eight to ten feet wide, and it grows in any soil with good drainage. It prefers full sun, but it can handle partial shade.
This tree grows quickly and tolerates pests. It works really well for anyone who wants tall privacy trees, and it does well in zones 6a through 8b.
The “Zebrina” western red cedar is another arborvitae that resists deer. It can reach heights of four to eight feet, and it grows eight to twelve feet wide.
In the spring, this tree grows little yellow flowers and has green and yellow foliage. It is resistant to pests and works well as a border plant.
It is native to North America and loves moist soil with good drainage, as well as sun or partial sun. It grows best in zones 5a through 8a.
Finally, the Thuja “Green Giant” is also called the needled evergreen, and it is a great option. It grows faster than most plants, and it can reach heights of 40 to 60 feet quickly.
The tree can grow as much as three or four feet each year, and it can be 12 to 18 feet wide. It is disease-resistant, and it does well in moist soil with partial shade to full sun.
People use it as a privacy screen, and it grows best in zones five through eight.
How to Protect Your Arborvitae from Deer
People love to plant arborvitae as a privacy screen because they are beautiful and thick, and they smell great. However, deer seem to like many varieties as much as people do, so you need to take steps to protect them.
You can try any of the following methods to keep the deer off of your arborvitae.
1 – Use Deer-Repellent Spray
One of the most popular ways to prevent deer from eating your plants and trees is by spraying a deer repellent. You can use a spray that contains eggs because deer despise this smell.
You can also create your own deer repellents. You can hang dryer sheets on the top of your tree because deer dislike the smell.
Another effective way to repel deer is to create your own spray. Mix together eggs, water, and garlic powder and spray it on the tree.
You will need to spray your trees right away if it snows or rains, and you should spray them every four to eight weeks otherwise.
2 – Install a Physical Barrier
You can also protect your trees over the winter by wrapping them with a physical barrier. You can use netting, mesh, or burlap, and once you wrap it, it will protect your tree for the entire winter.
The problem is that your tree will be covered over the winter. You should go up to eight feet with the cover, and then you can remove it when spring comes.
3 – Use Deer Fencing
The most effective way to control deer and prevent them from eating your arborvitae is with deer fencing. In fact, it also reduces the risk of Lyme disease by more than 80%.
Wooden fences are attractive, but they are expensive and deer can jump right over them. Another option is tall chain-link fencing, but it is not attractive and still can be very expensive.
The most effective fencing for deer is plastic fencing that is from seven and a half to eight feet tall. Deer will avoid jumping a fence when they can’t see the other side, and plastic fencing is easy to work with.
You can install this type of fence yourself, which makes it popular with homeowners. You want plastic deer fencing, which is durable and can last as long as 20 years.
Plastic deer fencing is the most cost-effective solution when you are trying to repel deer. It is designed for use with a moderate deer population.
There are some situations where you might need a more expensive metal fence. This type of fence is going to be stronger and hold up longer, and it resists chewing from other wildlife.
Most of the time, it is used for people who have livestock or other animals and want to keep predators away in addition to the deer.
Why Do Deer Eat Your Plants and Trees?
When you head outside and notice that your plants or trees have been destroyed, you may wonder why deer do this. Deer feed on all kinds of plants during the winter.
The deer love varieties of arborvitae as well as other trees and shrubs, and when they have to look harder for food in the winter, they move into residential landscapes to find something to eat.
Deer have some favorites, and arborvitae are among them. They also love deciduous shrubs, rhododendron, yew, euonymus, and hemlock.
Deer will always choose the trees that taste the best and are the easiest to access. This is why deer fencing is the ideal solution.
To determine how much damage the deer will do, you need to consider several factors, including the following:
- Availability of food
- Health of deer
- History of coming to your home
- Size of deer population
- Alternative properties with trees and shrubs
When you have a large population of deer with little food available, they will come to your yard. They will always choose plants that they like first, which is why you need to protect yours from them.
What Kind of Damage Do Deer Do to Arborvitae?
When you notice that deer have been eating your arborvitae, you will notice that they have been eating the greenery on the tree anywhere from the bottom of the tree to whatever height they can reach.
The damage may not kill your trees, but it will leave them looking quite bare. If they eat into the wood, the tree cannot fill it back in again.
However, if they don’t eat all of the growth on your tree, it can recover in the future. If you have no green left at all, you may need to remove them, or you can find other plants to plant in front of the bare spots.
The key is to encourage them to grow as much as possible over the next season, so you may want to use granulated evergreen fertilizer and give them water throughout the summer.
Once you see new growth, make sure that you protect it from the deer so that it continues to recover. However, the best way to make sure that your arborvitae looks great is through prevention.
How to Take Care of Arborvitae
Arborvitae are one of the coniferous species that grow in North America. They are popular because their shoots are flat and grow with an ornamental look.
They are shaped like a cone, and they often look like tall pyramids. They are hardy and low maintenance, but you do need to give them some care.
First, you must make sure that you space them appropriately when you plant them. They do well in locations that have good drainage so that they can grow large, strong roots deep into the soil.
This type of tree wants to be in full sun, but they can handle partial shade. You should also make sure that the soil has a pH of 7 or 8.
You may need to do some pruning in the fall or early winter, but they don’t require a lot. When you plant them, you need to water them daily while you wait for the roots to grow.
The best way to water these trees is with slow watering over a period of two to four hours each day for the first ten days. Then you can reduce it to every other day for the next month, and then reduce it to every three or four days until it is six weeks old.
Once your trees are established, you can water them for two hours with a dripping hose each week. If it is wet and cool, they don’t need as much water.
Although the primary pests for arborvitae are deer, there are a few others to consider. Look out for small pods on the twigs and leaves, which is a sign of bagworm.
You should treat bagworms with a spray. They can also get scorched by the sun, and they are susceptible to mold and mildew as well.
You can notice these problems by looking at the leaves and branches. If you see signs of disease, make sure that you treat the tree.
You will also want to use fertilizer once a year. The best type is a granular slow-release fertilizer, with nitrogen being the most important to use.
If your tree is doing well without fertilizer, you can skip using it. However, you need to pay attention because it needs nutrients, and if it isn’t getting what it needs, you will want to give it fertilizer.
In the winter, you need to protect the roots of your trees. You can add mulch around the tree that is at least six inches deep and go out about three feet from the trunk.
You can prevent dehydration by watering the tree on days where it is above freezing for at least 24 hours, and watch your tree in extreme temperatures.
If you have snow, make sure that it isn’t adding too much weight to the branches, as this can make them bend and snap. If there are strong winds, it can cause the top of the tree to snap off and it could take many years to get its shape again.
What Makes Arborvitae Turn Brown?
In the winter, the arborvitae can turn brown. It is often called winter burn, and you want to know how to take care of it.
If it happens in the summer, it could be a result of the tree needing water or being scorched by the sun. However, it is more common in the winter.
Arborvitae can suffer from a combination of wind, freezing temperatures, sun, and dehydration in the winter. This can cause the arborvitae leaves to turn brown.
The primary reason why this occurs is that they are lacking moisture. The key is to prevent this from happening.
First of all, when you plant your arborvitae, you should make sure that it is planted in a place where it is protected from wind. Make sure that you water it in the late fall and during thaws or on warmer days.
You can mulch over the roots before the winter to help insulate the soil and keep moisture available to the roots, and protect the tree by wrapping it.
You can best protect arborvitae from winter burn by wrapping it in burlap. This will also protect it from deer as an added benefit.
Although there are a few varieties of arborvitae that are deer-resistant, you will need to protect most of these trees because the deer love to eat them.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.