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January 15, 2021 3 min read

Do deer eat juniper berries? If you plan on cultivating junipers, then understanding deer feeding habits is a great idea. With insights on their feeding habits, you can decide whether junipers are the right choice for your fields and the best way to protect them.

There are many species of junipers out there. You can grow them as ground cover, hedging, privacy hedge, and lots more. If you are growing for juniper berries and have a high deer population to worry about, your first step should be asking the question – do deer eat juniper berries? You wouldn’t want the heartache of deer trampling and destroying all your hard work.

Junipers as deer-resistant plants

Juniper berries have a distinct tart and piney taste with bursts of citrus all in one. It is one reason they are used for flavoring in bitters and gin preparations. They are also used in a wide range of foods, beverages, and condiments for exotic dishes.

Junipers are seldom the first choice of food for deer. But, deer will eat juniper berries if the conditions are unfriendly. During the harsh winters, or in areas with a very high deer population, deer can feed on junipers, especially when they cannot access their favorite meals. Therefore, you need to protect your juniper berries from deer. Here are some deer deterrent solutions to try:

1. Fencing

Installing a fence is one of the most effective ways to control deer damage. However, height matters a lot. You need to install a fence that is at least 8 feet tall, although 10 feet is the right match. However, fencing is costly and may not be aesthetically pleasing to you and your neighbors.

2. Protectors

Besides feeding, the male deer often rubs its antlers against the bark of trees. Such habits can remove the exterior coating, leading to large scars on branches and trunks. Over time, this act might eventually kill the tree. To prevent this, consider using woven-wire mesh cylinders, polypropylene tubing, and many more. Tree protectors are very affordable. However, they won’t work for smaller trees, as there is a chance deer might knock them down.

3. Shrub protectors

For juniper shrubs, consider using individual burlaps, inexpensive snow fencing, or layered plastics. This is an affordable, quick, and efficient way to prevent deer damage to your shrubs. Nonetheless, you will still need to unwrap the shrubs at the end of winter so your shrubs can have space to thrive.

4. Unpalatable species

Unpalatable species are also excellent ways to keep deer from browsing in your yard. Consider selecting unpalatable juniper species such as the Chinese juniper, Moonglow, Skyrocket, and Blue Arrow. Still, there is a good chance these unpalatable choices can become favorite winter forages if they cannot access their favorite foods.

5. Repellents

Repellents can also help you discourage deer from browsing on your berries. However, you must apply and reapply every few weeks or after it rains. You can make your repellents at home, although you can also purchase some from your local store.

Concluding Thoughts

Do deer eat juniper berries? Yes, they do, although they are not among their favorite food choices. Regardless, it would help if you protected your berries from deer damage by installing a fence, using repellents, or tree protectors. Overall, you need to combine different deer deterrent methods to keep deer out of your orchard effectively.


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