Fruit Tree Deer Protection

I planted some jujube trees this year and they are still about 4’ tall. We have regular deer pressure, so they are protected with tomato cages, about 3’ diameters.

Next season, I’m sure the trees would grow out of the tomato cages. So I need some other deer protection. The best way may be just metal wire mesh, but I’d like to know if there are any other cheaper ways to do this. I’ve seen folks using some red plastic soft mesh. Not sure about the cost and the durability.

For young fruit trees, the least expensive and noticeable fencing I’ve found is 6"x6" concrete reinforcing mesh. It comes in rolls at Home Depot or the like.

It’s main advantage is it is quite stiff, and does not require stakes/posts to support it. That can make it a bit of a pain to first install, but once it is up that is no longer an issue. I typically secure it to the ground with a couple of landscape edging staples. It is bare steel so it will and does rust (hoever still lasts for 10+ years). I find that an advantage in that once rusted, it will “disappear” much more so than a galvanized or colored plastic fence would. However on a concrete patio or the like, the rust would likely stain. In a field this is a cost effective solution, but may not be visually OK in a more formal, landscaped setting. I have used these circles to protect young trees until I could get a perimeter deer fence up, and still use them on new trees where one deer getting in could set a new tree back overnight.

As with any fencing, you do need to keep it bigger than the plant inside, otherwise deer can eat the outer branches. Generally you want the fence at 6" or more outside the branch tips for safety.

I already have the concrete mesh cage like the below, but the trees grow out of the cage:

The above cage probably costs about $12 a piece just the mesh. I could make bigger ones. But this can be costly and once made, it is almost impossible to make it smaller. The bulk is another problem when not in use.

So search for soft plastic sheets, or stakes and metal wire strands for low cost and easy to install/removal.

They make plastic deer fence. I use it and it works well after pinning the bottom down.

I buy 2x4" welded wire fencing…think it comes in 52" height You can make any size circle you like, but you do need at least one and preferably two t-posts to keep it stable. This is a major cost of my fruit and nut tree hobby, but around here, central Missery, it is either fence them or forget that hobby. I keep the fence up until the tree is big enough the deer can’t easily turn it into a shrub, and then use some of the same fence to protect the trunk until it is too big for the bucks to use it as a rub. They still rub the lowest branches. Deer are mammalian Japanese beetles.

BTW, Part of the joy is keeping the weeds down in the fence circle. I spent yesterday afternoon weed eating aroundd those trees after moving the fence. I have been afraid to use Round-up, but may start, as moving the fences can be a pain.



You can collect your leaves in the fall and pile them thick inside the fenced are and the weeds and grass wont grow. It also well keep the ground moist and full of worms.

First, I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m experimenting Jujube specifically as a fruit tree for deer. I didn’t know what to expect when I planted the trees, so I used cages. My trees are now much larger and hang over and grow through the cages. Deer don’t browse on them at all. They do eat and fruit they can reach and anything that falls to the ground outside the cage but not browsing on the tree itself.

I do plant other fruit trees that are preferred browse for deer. They hammer chestnut trees if I don’t tube them. Many fruit trees like apple or crabapple are so preferred that they need to be caged. The cement wire Steve recommends works very well, but I do things a little differently. First, I’m planting a lot of trees so I’m trying to keep the cost down. I don’t care if deer browse on my trees as long as they don’t hurt them but munching on the central leader or something. So, I build narrow diameter cages so I get more out of roll of cement wire. It is just like pruning, my trees just grow tall out of reach of deer. Since they are primarily to feed wildlife, I don’t care about height. However, if you do, you can build them at any diameter you want.

I use an 18" tree tube at the bottom of the tree. While cement wire works well for deer it Is easy access for rodents. As Steve says, cement wire (remesh is the name if folks are looking for it) is stiff and you could make a cage without stakes. I use a single heavy duty T-post for each cage. I then wire the cage to the T-post about a foot off the ground. This give me an extra foot in height so I get a 6’ tall cage from a 5’ tall fence. Deer can get under that and most other problem animals can go right through cement wire or easily climb it, so I’d rather have the extra height as protection from deer. This also lets you reach under the fence to apply mulch and such as needed.

Oh yes, another option to protect against deer is to fence the whole area. The least cost but effective solution I’ve found is a Gallagher-Style Electric fence. This has an inner and outer fence making it 3 dimensional. I’ve described it in detail in other posts. I’ve used it in high deer density areas to protect young soybeans which they love and found it very effective.

The problem is that it isn’t particularly pretty but that may be fine in a rural environment. High fencing for deer is expensive. You need to get to 10’ height if you use chain link or anything they can see through if you have something attractive inside. However, a 5’ solid privacy fence is very effective. Deer can easily jump it, but unless they are being chased by a predator, they generally won’t jump over a fence when they can’t see if there is danger at the landing area. So in a suburban environment where a Gallagher-Style E-fence is not an option this will work but at a higher cost.

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Electric fence is out of the question since this is between two properties. From what I know, deer did snip off the tips of the new growth. They will come and cause more damages in fall. But I do not think they will try to jump inside since there are so many other better things for them.

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I hear you! Lifting the cages with weeds growing through them is a pain. I hired a teenager to do the lifting and weeding. Helped so much. Three foot circles of soil, then fresh mulch then replaced the wire chicken circles.

I’ve been trying different techniques. The remesh cages that are wired to the T-posts about a foot off the ground are easier to weed and mulch. The 18" tube at the base of the tree even allows me to spray gly with reasonable confidence if I’m careful. I have also taken to applying air and water permeable landscape cloth and then mulching over it. This year, I’m considering using stone (just quarry stone like they use on gravel roads) as mulch over the landscape cloth. It should hold the cloth in place, help retain moisture, be less attractive to small rodents for nesting, and not breakdown requiring replacement.


Here is a picture of one of my tigertooth in the field with just a short galvanized fence:

You can see how it hangs over the fence easily in reach of deer yet I have had zero browsing on it. By comparison, I have significant browsing on the chestnut trees I plant. I have some of the chestnuts in ridged mesh tubes and anything outside the tube is browsed. I’m not sure why, but my deer seem to ignore my Tigertooth.

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I have noticed that horses run off deer. My brother had two horses that would get worked up at the sight of deer. I have a friend with an orchard and deer are always trouble, his neighbor has 6 fruit trees that are not protected but look great. Those are by his horse pen.

I’ve had no deer pressure since planting my small orchard this spring. But today I was mowing the lawn and to my horror saw this. Deer have completely defoliate my Black Gold cherry and have taken the lower leaves off a few other trees. So I guess they finally found my trees. To make matters worse my 5x1 asian pear set about 15-20 fruit this year. I thinned all but 1 shinseiki, 1 nijiseiki, and 1 yongi. The deer just ate the niji, and shin and have left me only the yongi. Probably too late now but I bagged the one and only remaining fruit but I doubt it will help. I hung some dryer sheets in the trees but I doubt that will help either.

Will the defoliation kill the cherry?

They’ll be back. You had better get some fencing around those trees ASAP. The cherry will probably recover–this time!

Yep, they will be back. They love sweet cherry trees!

Deer love apples, pears and apricots too!

If you can’t fence right away, human urine may give you a day or so.

“Dumb young kid” neighbors who moved in across the street about three years ago raise a nice veggie garden right next to the alley and sidewalk and erected a simple black plastic mesh, about seven feet tall and supported only by green plastic poles. Big box store had them in the garden center. Deer left their garden completely alone but stripped my green beans and nibbled lettuce like crazy. So now we have one and it seems to have worked. I couldn’t believe it. It would be relatively easy and straightforward to build around a tree or group of trees.

Nope. Deer make scrapes, areas on the ground where they scrape away the leaves or vegetation and urinate in them as a signpost for other deer. They generally have a licking branch above them where they deposit scent from glands near their eyes. Urine runs over tarsal glands into the scrape.

Researchers and hunters make mock scrapes. They use a rake to create the scrape and then put urine collected from deer in these. They then use remote sensing cameras to capture pictures of deer use.

Recent studies have shown that fresh human urine works just as well as deer urine in the scrapes. Deer use the scrapes with the same frequency whether they were seeded with deer urine or human urine.

This makes me think it is unlikely human urine will have any protective value for trees at all.

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