Sunday, April 25, 2010

Protecting Fruit Trees From Deer

I've tried the garlic clips.  I've tried the rotten-egg/garlic spray.  I've tried hanging a bar of soap from the branches.  None of it has kept the deer off my fruit trees.  My poor little Honeycrisp apple tree is no bigger than it was when I planted it 4 (or was it 5?) years ago.  To be honest, I'm amazed it's still alive, what with the way the deer "prune" it every year.

So today I'm making deer cages to go around my trees.  The ones I'm doing today are kind of cheap and cheesy--not intended to be permanent.  I'm just driving in a t-bar (I have several old ones in the shop) and attaching a circle of old fencing (which I had in the shop) to it.  It ought to keep the deer out for now.

But I've been thinking about how I want to deal with this problem permanently, and I think I have a solution.  I don't want to just put a fence around my whole property.  The deer (and sometimes elk) come down the hillside, cross the road, and go through my property to the woods and creek on the other side.  I don't want to impede that.  I just want to keep their snacking down to a level that will let my trees grow.

So I was thinking I could build a fence around each tree.  Four fence posts to make a square eight feet on a side, opening to the south, with a gate on that side.  Then I could use the sides of the square as a trellis to grow raspberries and blackberries.  And I could grow grapes, or maybe kiwis, up the posts and onto a horizontal trellis attached to the outside of the square.

Eventually, I think the trees would get big enough that the deer could still get at some of the branches.  But I don't mind sharing some of the trees and fruit with the deer.  I just want to let the trees grow so there's something to share with the deer.

It sounds like I'll be growing fruit trees, cane fruits, and vine fruits awfully close together.  But by including plenty of mulching plants, nitrogen fixers, and other nutrient accumulators, it might work.  At least until the trees get big enough to shade out the canes and vines--but that will take years.

What do you think?  Does that sound feasible?

Well, I have four more deer cages to make, so...break's over!


  1. Keep us posted on this. Let us know how it works out, I'm very interested.

  2. Hi Wolfe, thanks for your comment. I'll keep you posted. I think I'll take a picture of my cheap and cheesy solution, so to show what I've done. Remember, though, it's cheap and cheesy.

    I'm dehydrating canned mandarin oranges right now. After they're dry I'll take another picture and write a post about it. Probably on Thursday.