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Deer Protection for Trees: Fence vs. Tube  RSS feed

 
Morgan Gold
Posts: 2
Location: Peacham, VT
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I have a farm up in northern Vermont and I am gearing to plant several hundred trees and shrubs this fall. Plantings will include chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, apples, black locust, Siberian pea shrub, elderberry, and mulberry. I have a pretty healthy deer population in my area. I know that I will need to protect the plantings in these early years so that they can get a good healthy start. I feel like that leaves me with two potential solitons. Option one is to invest in the protective 6-foot tubing that is available from Plantra or others to prevent browsing. Option 2 is to put up a 7-foot fence around the 7-acre parcel of land where most of the plantings will take place. I have crunched the numbers and have come to the conclusion that both options will be roughly the same cost from a dollars standpoint and the fencing will require slightly more time to implement than the tubes because I would be cutting my own posts. I know that neither method will be 100% effective in preventing browse, but I want to give the trees a nice healthy start.

I'm looking for some perspective from others who have had to deal with this. Which method do you prefer at a larger scale? Fencing or tubing?

Many thanks,
Morgan
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 801
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Morgan, welcome to Permies!  I haven't done as large a planting as yours so take my advice with a grain of sea salt...   I just looked at the Plantra tubes and they look decent for tall/thin trees.  They do have "shrub" tubes but I'm wondering how they'd actually work with the bushier plants (hazelnut, elderberry, etc).  It says they're 7" diameter and 3' tall.  My elderberries are already 2' wide and 3' tall.  So they'd be seriously constrained if they had to fit inside 7" diameter.  Plus, once they get out of the top, I'd think the deer would just stand there and munch away.  Unless your deer are very short

My vote (for what it's worth) is for the fence.  Then you'd have the flexibility of planting other crops under your trees without having to protect them as well. 
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 269
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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I drove an 8 ft cedar sapling(2-3" dia) into the ground at planting time, used 2 ft tubes, and a 16" dia. circle of fencing outside that. The fence is 3 ft high, and when the time comes I'll stack another 3 ft section on top of that one. 
They'll be able to browse off some of the side branches but the main leader will be undamaged.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3363
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Perimeter fence will prevent them from harvesting the fruit or nuts in five years plus will let you run livestock if you choose
 
Michelle Bisson
Posts: 226
Location: Quebec, Canada
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Since the cost is about the same for either option, I would choose a fence.  You will have way more flexibility to develop your land in the years to come with a perimeter fence in place for the reasons above plus many more yet unknown opportunities that will arise because you have a fence.
 
Kevin Derheimer
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Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Morgan - I would agree that fencing would be better if the same cost as tubes.  I'm dealing with deer and elk and most of the fences here are 8' to ensure the deer and elk can't jump over, so are you certain 7' is sure to keep them out?  I have done tubes last fall since I'm not ready to fence.  I took a slightly different approach with the tubes, I put two stakes on either side of a tree and wired the tubes 18" off the ground so I didn't have to use taller more expensive tubes.  I figured the deer and elk wouldn't be able to get under the tubes, it worked great!  The deer and elk nipped off the ends of branches that happened to stick thru the tubes in a couple of places so I know they tried to get at the trees.  So I can attest to the success of using shorter tubes, lifted off the ground.  I needed the posts anyway to keep the tubes in place, so suspending the tubes off the ground save me $ in being able to use shorter tubes.
Kevin
 
Morgan Gold
Posts: 2
Location: Peacham, VT
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Thank you all for the helpful thoughts and ideas. I still have a lot to think about, but it's really great to get the point-of-view of others.

I have a very dense cedar swamp on the backside of my farm so I do have a seemingly infinite supply of fence posts.

The way I've been looking at it, while a 7-foot fence won't be completely impermeable, it would keep the majority of harmful deer traffic down. Is that naive?
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 212
Location: New Hampshire
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I am in southern New Hampshire and we fenced in  our garden with 7 foot fencing and deer jump right over it.  They are also good a making holes in deer netting. 

Keep in mind you will need mice and vole guards on those trees to keep the rodents from girdling the trees in the winter.  They should be as tall as your snow pack gets.  We use aluminum window screen wrapped into a tube.   For the tiny trees seedlings I made a cylinder  1/4" hardware cloth.
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 656
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Kate Muller wrote:I am in southern New Hampshire and we fenced in  our garden with 7 foot fencing and deer jump right over it.  They are also good a making holes in deer netting. 

Keep in mind you will need mice and vole guards on those trees to keep the rodents from girdling the trees in the winter.  They should be as tall as your snow pack gets.  We use aluminum window screen wrapped into a tube.   For the tiny trees seedlings I made a cylinder  1/4" hardware cloth.

With a fence around the property, you could let a couple neighbor dogs loose to take care of the mice and voles in the area. While she's old and slow now, back in her prime my Siberian Husky gladly spent from sun-up to sun-down eradicating any small critter that dared to exist in our large back yard.
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 212
Location: New Hampshire
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Cola, and Chika are my neighbors dogs  and Bear is the neighbors barn cat.  They all have free range of my yard except the dogs can't go in the fenced in front yard.  Most of the fruit trees are in the side yard that just has deer netting up and not permanent fencing.  Their combined efforts along with my cat Chantal have failed to make a noticeable dent in the rodent population. Chantal and Bear have both passed away this winter and the chickens miss stealing the rodent carcasses from the cats.  We are planning on getting another cat and a dog next year.  We want to get way more organized before we get a puppy.
 
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