I've planted several emerald green arborvitae in my yard in the Pacific NW. There are many blacktailed deer in the area who like to munch on it. I currently have a deer fence around the area but would like to remove it in the future. My question is: how much/percentage of the arborvitae can the deer eat around the bottom and have it still survive. I'm not especially worried about the fact that they may look like lollipops ... I can plant shrubs that the deer won't eat around the base. But will the plants survive if the deer shear off the bottom … half? 1/3?
I haven't been able to find anything that addresses this specific question. Thank you!

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I've seen arb lollipops that looked like something out of Dr. Seuss - a mop-head on a stick. They'll live with 75% of the leaves and branches eaten, but they won't like it and they will grow extremely slowly or not at all. I think they're embarrassed that they look so stupid. I'd plant columnar juniper instead (white-tailed deer will eat juniper, but only if they're VERY hungry).

For future reference, you may be able to plant Techny Arbs in your deer country. I moved into a rural house with a 20' x 8' Techny in the yard that had absolutely no deer predation while every other arb in the area was a lollipop. I did nothing to protect it and the deer left it alone.

  • Thank you! I very well may end up planting a different evergreen, but I spent 100's of $$ before I realized that these deer can't read the "deer resistant" tags … my bad. I'd like to save them if possible, but my privacy is more important than my $$.
    – Anne
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 0:49
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    @Anne. If you have to replace your arbs you may find this helpful, although mostly deciduous plants: myohiolandscape.com/deer-resistant-plants.cfm.Some of these plants may not work in your area, of course. If you have the room, there is one deciduous plant that might work for you, the Hedge Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster divaricatus). I've grown it & the branching is so dense that you cannot see through it easily, even in winter. In summer, it has dark green glossy leaves & small pink flowers. Excellent fall foliage. It's large, though: 10' x 10'. I left mine unpruned & they were awesome.
    – Jurp
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 10:49

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