Helping apple trees' recovery from heavy deer browse

Hi, there,

I'm new to this forum and new to gardening. This year I planted two apple trees, and they were thriving. Then a deer decimated them. eating around 80% of the leaves and all the fruit on one tree, half the fruit on the other tree.


The trees are now fenced off. But what will the effect be on them, and how can I help the trees recover? They were doing so beautifully and I hate to think of there being a long-term impact from this early, heavy deer browse.

Thanks very much,



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,788

    Hi LinLin image

    Can you post us a picture of the trees please?  

    To post a pic on here you click on the green tree icon on the toolbar above where you type your post, and then you'll get instructions on uploading photos from a pc.

     I'm afraid it doesn't work for phones - yet!

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,404

    first I would remove all the remaining fruit from both trees, you need to reduce the stress levels on the trees and removing the fruit will help them recover (hopefully)

    you need to then see how the trees recover this year and prune accordingly this winter

    on the plus side apple trees are fairly hardy to pruning (either us with loppers or deer with teeth) so hopefully they'll come back fine!

  • LinLinLinLin Posts: 3

    Thanks so much for the replies. Here are some pics of the trees. Tree 1 had a lot of fruit, so it's helpful to know to take that off.

    I've never pruned fruit trees before -- what should I be aiming for, and when should the trees be pruned?

    Tree 1:



    And tree 2:






  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,404

    well they don't look too damaged, when you said deer attack I was expecting twigs and nothing else!

    you might get away with a thinning of fruits rather than a wholesale removal, leave maybe 5 on (at least that way you get something this year!)

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,404

    when pruning apples you can prune twice a year, in winter for shape mostly, as winter pruning encourages new growth. warning - don't prune more than a quarter of the tree otherwise it will go mad and throw out loads of water shoots which can be pretty much useless.

    I also prune in mid summer (about mid august) when I take the tips out of this years new growth (usually I leave about five or six leaves on new growth, this encourages side shoots (or spurs) this is where my apple gets flowers and fruit - you need to check if your apple is a tip bearer or a spur bearer as pruning styles will be different.

    it also depends what rootstock you have as the more vigorous ones will chuck on more growth, so pruning can be a little harder. and also whether you want a standard orchard tree (like 20 feet tall - in which case you let it get one with it and only remove damaged, dead or crossing wood) or one you can always pick from (like 10 feet tall in a nice flat goblet shape)

  • LinLinLinLin Posts: 3

    Thanks very much, treehugger. That is all very helpful.


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