How to Protect Your Trees from Squirrels, Rabbits, Deer, and Other Hungry Animals 

Trees provide so much enjoyment and benefit. Most people think so. Unfortunately, a lot of animals that frequent backyards think so, too.   

Homeowners may enjoy watching the squirrels cavorting in the treetops, or spotting a deer wandering into their rural yard, but some of these visitors may be munching on—and damaging—their trees. If you have caught them in the act, or have spotted signs of animals gnawing on your trees or munching on their leaves, you’ll need a solution to protect your trees before they do irreparable damage.  

If you’re not sure how to identify rodent damage, read this article about several pests that are common to Sonoma County, including rodents.  

In this article, we explore four ways to protect your trees from rodents, deer, and other animals without harming these hungry invaders.  

4 Approaches to Protecting Your Trees from Rodents and Deer 

When dealing with hungry animals, who see your trees as food, what works best will depend on the animal, but also on your own comfort level and budget. Of course, if one approach doesn’t work, you can choose a different one.  

Here are four simple approaches to protect your trees from rodents and other animals:  

1. Barriers 

Wild animals have no boundaries unless you provide one. Perimeter fences, depending on the size of your property and the materials that you use, can be costly. In addition, they won’t keep the squirrels out and have to be four to five feet high to keep the deer out and start a foot below the surface to keep the burrowing rodents out.  

However, a less-expensive option, if this is the route you choose, is to erect wire fencing and plant a camouflaging hedge in front of it. The bottom couple of feet and another foot below the surface will have to be covered with a finer mesh, to keep the rodents out. Make sure to pick a hedge plant that deer don’t like, or they’ll have their way with that, too!  

If a perimeter fence isn’t feasible, you can fence in your trees, instead of your property. For smaller trees, which are more tender and therefore more susceptible, wire mesh, ventilated PVC tubing or adjustable, wraparound tree guards may be placed around the sapling’s trunk to provide protection that will last for several seasons. Make sure that your PVC or tree guard is loose enough and has plenty of holes for airflow. Adjust the size of the tree guard, or replace it with a larger one, as the tree grows.  

If small creatures are doing the feasting, make sure that your mesh is small enough and that your “tree fence” starts at the bottom of the trunk. For deer, make sure it extends upward to six feet.  

2. Startling Objects 

Like the scarecrow in the cornfield and the fake owl on the roof, there are ways to scare these animals off with shiny objects, especially when they move in the wind and make noise. Talk to your arborist before attaching objects to your trees.  

Windchimes on the eaves of your house, near the tree, and motion-activated devices near the trunks of your trees may be effective in scaring away the feasters. Some will even spray water on the offending deer.  

3. Natural Repellents 

A number of natural, plant-based repellents are available for use on trees. This solution keeps trees protected from rodents and other critters, while also protecting the habitat, and your pets, from potentially harmful chemicals. 

4. Chemical Repellents 

If the natural repellents are ineffective, chemical repellents are a viable option. Read the product information carefully before using it, and ensure that your pets will not inadvertently be dosed.   

Have Your Trees Inspected for Animal Damage by a Certified Arborist  


Animals can do a considerable amount of damage to your tree before you even realize there’s a problem. Our certified arborists can help support the health and beauty of your property with personalized tree care and services.  

Contact us for a professional tree health inspection, especially if your trees are showing signs of animal damage or other stress. You can also schedule an inspection by calling (707) 495-4686.