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Deer ate my Cedar bushes

Down Deep

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I have some appox. 25 year old cedar bushes that border my house. Over the winter the deer ate all the green off the bottom 6 feet. Will these bushes regenerate the green? This is the first time this has happened.

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This is very common and it creates an amazing site up north. All the cedars that hang over the lake are all at the same height cause thats as high as they can reach from the ice.

If they are big enough, I would say trim them up and try to find a way to protect them in the future. I've had pretty good luck with some of the deer rodent repellents.

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To answer your question, Down Deep, they won't regenerate. It's deciduous shrubs and trees that regenerate. The conifers don't.

Not sure how much room you have or if your cedars are tight against the house, but if they are pretty much against the house and you have a good amount of room in front of them, you can deepen your garden and plant a mix of medium shrubs and some tall perennials directly in front of the cedars. That'll cover up the eaten spots over time, and if you add even more flowers with lower growing habits in front of your new shrubs, you'll have a classically layered garden.

Tall in back, mid range in the middle, short in front. That's how I designed a lot of house/business foundation plantings (gardens backed by the house/foundation) when I was a landscaper. That seems like a long time ago now, but some principles stand the test of time.

What are the conditions in front of your cedars? Do you have room for more garden? What direction do they face?

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The cedars are tight against the house and were planted to form an end border on either side of the house. I was looking at them today and surfing the net for ideas on what to plant around them. I might also just give them a yank. I am also looking for some deer proof plants and bushes, and any suggestions about deer proof plants and bushes would be appreciated. The deer in Duluth have reached phenomenal numbers. It is incredible how much they have cleared the under brush of the woods around my house.

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I've yet to see a shrub/flower that's actually deer-proof. Here's a list of common garden flowers and shrubs that are deer resistant. In other words, deer get to them last because they like the taste the least. You'll still likely get fawns nibbling on them because young deer will experiment to see what does and does not taste good. And in really harsh winters the deer will eat them anyway.

The bridal wreath spirea, with its cascading branches filled with white flowers in June, would be an excellent planting right in front of your cedars. The shrubs grow to about six feet or more and are very handsome even when not in bloom. There also are a number of dwarf lilac cultivars on the market that bloom longer than traditional lilacs and don't grow as tall. They'd make a good shrub for you, too. So you'd have the lilacs bloom in May and the bridal wreath in June, and if you do perennials and annuals in front, you'd have a variety of flowers all summer.

Since the deer are only eating your cedars in winter, any annuals and perennials you plant will have died or gone dormant by then and will be covered with snow, so the deer won't get them. So since your problem is a winter problem you don't need to limit your choices to perennials/annuals on this list. Any annual will work, as will any perennial that'll grow in Zone 3 and potentially Zone 4, depending on where you live in Duluth and how sheltered your yard is.

The bridal wreath, lilac and potentilla are all shrubs that are hardy in Zone 3.

Missing from this list are roses. There are a number of very hardy shrub roses that work in Zone 3, like the Morden series, which were developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba and are widely available at nurseries. For obvious reasons, deer will not do much damage by winter browsing on thorny rose branches. grin.gif



Basket of Gold



Soap Wort

Sweet Woodriff

Wooly Thyme

Autumn Joy Sedum

Black-Eyed Susan

Bleeding Heart

California Poppies




Cone Flower

Coral Bells









Ladies Mantle


Lambs ear





Poppies - Iceland/Oriental



Russian Sage



Shasta Daisy





Spirea (Bridal Wreath)




Morning Glory











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