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Richmond Hill Tree Care Advice: Preventing Deer from Girdling Your Trees

Richmond Hill Tree Care

If you have noticed areas of bark missing from your trees, the culprit could be deer. This is the likely explanation if the damage occurred during the late summer or early fall. During that time of year, male deer remove the velvet-like outer layer from their antlers by rubbing them against tree bark. This action removes patches of bark, which exposes your tree to disease. Sometimes deer will inadvertently remove bark from the entire circumference of a tree (called girdling), which will kill the tree above the girdle. Here are two suggestions for protecting your trees:

Tree Guards

A tree guard is a barrier around the trunk that protects the bark from deer antler rubbing. There are many ways of making a barrier. One method is using wire mesh supported by vertical stakes that surround the tree. Be careful not to damage the tree's roots when driving the stakes into the ground. Use plastic cable ties or zip ties to secure the mesh to itself (to form a cylinder) and to the stakes.

You can also cut a plastic cylinder, such as a drain pipe, down its center and slide it over the tree trunk. Before doing this, drill holes into the plastic for ventilation. However, the advantage of using wire mesh is that it's less visible and therefore more aesthetically pleasing. Make the guards 180 cm high and leave them in place until April.


If you have multiple trees on your property, placing a fence along the perimeter of the entire group of trees is a viable solution. Make the fence between 250 and 300 cm high to prevent deer from jumping over it. Positioning the fence beyond the tree branches will also prevent deer from nibbling at them. The fence should extend completely to the ground to prevent deer from going underneath.

Although a fence is very effective, it is expensive compared to using tree guards. Fencing that only surrounds your trees may not be aesthetically pleasing. However, if you had intended to place a fence around your entire property (for other reasons), then adjusting it to prevent deer entry is feasible.

If you have questions about this or other tree care issues, a Richmond Hill tree care expert can answer them and/or provide assistance. Contact us at Advanced Tree Care.