Will Deer Eat My Japanese Maple Trees? [How to Prevent It]

Do you want to plant Japanese maple trees but worry that your deer will eat them? As cute as they are, deer can cause a host of problems in your yard, including ruining your new trees. But do deer eat Japanese maple trees?

Japanese maple trees are deer resistant, meaning a deer is unlikely to eat the tree. However, this doesn’t mean the tree is entirely safe, as the deer can still damage it. There are several techniques to prevent deer from damaging your Japanese maple trees, including using repellents.

Understanding how to protect your Japanese maple trees and other trees from getting eaten or damaged by deer will help ensure you have a beautiful garden without harming wildlife. 

We’ll discuss whether deer eat Japanese maple trees and how you can keep these trees safe from wandering deer. 

Do Deer Eat Japanese Maple Trees?

Although living in the woods is a fantastic experience, there are some challenges you’ll face when choosing this location. One of them is learning to live with wild animals, like deer. 

Deer can significantly threaten your garden since they often eat plants and trees. 

They also damage your garden by rubbing against the trees and trotting through the shrubs. This is why selecting the right kinds of plants for your garden in the woods is essential. 

While a desperate and starving deer may chew on any plants, certain trees are more resistant to them than others. 

But what about a Japanese maple tree? Will deer eat them? 

Fortunately, Japanese maple trees are considered deer resistant. This means they aren’t a prime food source for deer and are less likely to be eaten than other trees, like oak and pear trees.

Deer typically don’t like trees with strong smells, feathery leaves, hairy stems, branches, or sticky residue. Since Japanese maple trees have a peculiar smell and can be sticky, they aren’t a deer’s favorite meal. 

But this doesn’t mean all Japanese maple trees are safe from deer. 

When food is scarce in the winter, a deer will eat almost anything it can find. This includes your Japanese maple trees, especially their new buds. There are also some forests where maple trees are a part of the natural environment, so deer may have developed a liking for the trees. 

Deer also rub their antlers against trees in an action known as buck rub, which will cause damage to your Japanese maple trees, specifically the younger and smaller ones. 

So, even though Japanese maple trees are somewhat resistant to deer, they aren’t entirely safe from being eaten or rubbed against and destroyed. 

Still, suppose you’re looking for a barrier tree to protect the other, more susceptible trees from deer damage. In that case, a Japanese maple is a great deterrent. 

How To Prevent Deer From Damaging Japanese Maple Trees

Having Japanese maple trees in your garden is a great way to deter deer from eating your plants. But it isn’t the only way to protect your garden. When the Japanese maples are still small, they are susceptible to damage by deer, especially bucks, who rub their antlers against the trees. 

If you want your maple trees to grow big and healthy to protect the rest of the garden, you must find ways to prevent animals from damaging the trees while they are young. 

Here are 3 ways to protect your Japanese maple trees against deer damage. 

1. Put Fencing Around Your Garden

One of the easiest ways to protect Japanese maple trees and your entire garden against deer is to put a fence around your backyard. 

While this may take some of the beautiful views away, it protects your backyard against deer and other animals in the woods. 

To stop deer from accessing your garden and the plants therein, you need a fence at least 8 feet tall. This is tall enough so the deer can’t jump over the fence and get to your Japanese maple trees. Add a tall hedge as a natural fence if you want a prettier aesthetic.

You must choose the right hedge, or the deer will eat right through it and into your garden. Lavender, rosemary, and honeysuckle bushes emit a strong scent you will love, and the animals will hate. 

This can help deter the deer from poking about in your garden and possibly nibbling on your Japanese maple trees. 

2. Use Repellents For The Deer

Another way to keep deer from eating or damaging your Japanese maple trees and other garden plants is to use repellents. You can find buck repellent at your nearest outdoor store or use a natural repellent you likely already have. 

Some people recommend using soap to deter deer since the pungent smell is off-putting. Grate the soap and spread it around your garden, or hang it in the trees. 

You must add new soap occasionally, especially after it has rained, to ensure the soap’s smell remains fresh. 

If the soap doesn’t work, consider using mothballs or dried bloodmeal to deter the deer since they also don’t like the smell. Fish lines, reflective objects, and sprinkles also deter deer by scaring them off and may help prevent them from entering your garden. 

Some farmers also recommend using predator urine, like that of a dog, to deter the deer. Most odor deterrents should be replaced after rain or snowfall since they will lose effectiveness. 

Plants like garlic, rosemary, and fennel also help deter deer since their powerful aromas bother the deer and prevent them from staying. 

3. Install Tree Protectors Against Deer

If you intend to have your Japanese maple trees serve as a deer deterrent, it is vital to help them reach adulthood. You can do this by installing tree protectors around them to help prevent the deer from scratching themselves against the trees or eating some of the leaves. 

A tree protector consists of a metal fence or net that you place around the tree. 

It ensures the deer cannot reach it. Place the protector far enough from the tree to give it space to grow so the deer cannot lean over and eat some of the leaves. 

You can place tree protectors around all your trees. If the trees are deer repellent, like Japanese maple trees, you can remove the tree protector when the tree is big enough to withstand buck rubs. 

If the tree isn’t deer repellent, keep the tree protectors around it forever. 

By following these three steps, you can protect your Japanese maple trees and other plants and trees from deer damage. 

Final Word

Deer are unlikely to eat Japanese maple trees since these trees have a strong scent that deters deer. But some deer may still rub their antlers against the trees and cause damage, so you should take preventative measures to protect your Japanese maples against deer. 

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