Few things are more frustrating to a gardener than having deer dine on much-cherished plants. Even if you are prepared to tolerate deer damage because you think these animals are picturesque, take heed. Deer are creatures of habit. Once they perceive your garden as a safe and delectable haven, they will visit regularly.
An increase in white-tailed deer populations and a decrease in their natural habitats have set up a situation in home landscapes near woodlands where palatable ornamental plants become alternative food sources for deer. When winter approaches and food sources become less available, feeding on leaves, stems, and buds of woody plants becomes more apparent. Male deer also cause damage by rutting or rubbing their antlers along the stems or trunks of trees and stripping off bark.
Deer should be discouraged immediately when they first appear. Young trees and shrubs can suffer permanent damage from deer browsing. Deer damage is usually identified by the torn or jagged appearance of branches or twigs compared to the clean-cut feeding damage caused by rabbits and squirrels.