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Natural Protection for Young Plants and Trees

garden master
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Young plants seem to be a favorite for deer, rabbits, and other nibbling animals. It can be so discouraging to spend a lot of time planting and observing a new plant, only to wake up one day and find it munched to pieces.

Currently I've mainly been using 4 foot metal fencing around younger plants and trees, to keep out mostly deer and rabbits, and have had really good success so far with this.

I'd love to transition though to using a natural fencing/hedge/deterrent for keeping out these critters if possible.

I've had some success with simply planting stuff thickly around them. It seems like the critters target plants that are out in the open by themselves, but if they are tucked in amongst other plants or trees, this greatly reduces the chances that they are browsed on.

I'm interested to see if having some thorny plant material jumbled up in a circle around the plants will help deter rabbits?

What are some natural methods that you've had success with or want to try to keep the nibblers off your prized young plants?!
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After I prune my rose bushes or anything thorny I always put it on top of my compost pile to deter raccoons so I’m sure a similar concept could be used.
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