I am currently working with (a local Long Island community) Fire Department and the town wants a “buffer” tree between our property and the neighbors. I specified an Eastern Red Cedar and the District was worried about deer eating them. I wanted to reach out to someone with more knowledge and found you by google searching “deer resistant plants and shrubs”. What is your feel on the eastern red cedar? Are they highly likely to be eaten by the deer? If so can you recommend something of the same type?
When I still lived out east on Long Island I remember eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) being pretty safe in terms of deer resistance. However, that was close to 10 years ago and with all the development over the last number of years I know their taste palettes have expanded quite a bit.
I fear that bases of the cedars will get pretty chewed up. And trying to think of a tree that is going to be that vertical, while staying so narrow, and still deer-resistant is pretty tough. Assuming the area is full sun, there are some narrow upright spruces out there, but they can get thin from their base up over long lengths of time. I am sure that you do not have a huge budget, and there might not be all that much space to plant, but if at all possible, you might want to consider a line of cedars for height and then some deer-resistant shrubs at the base that will complete the screen and not become full of holes as the years go by. You can underplant the cedars with bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), Japanese skimmia (Skimmia japonica), even a low growing juniper, and I would hope they wouldn’t suffer too much munching. Again, I apologize, it’s been a while since I’ve landscaped on the island. Barberry (Berberis) and burning bush (Euonymus alatus) hold up well too, but they are both listed as introduced invasive species in the northeast so I can’t really recommend those with a clear conscious.
I will also take this quick opportunity to say that if anyone has a different opinion about the plants I've listed above, others I've forgotten, or if you have different findings from your experiences, I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts. Deer resistance gets tougher and tougher every year with increased development and decreased forest and parkland and I am open to any and all information people wish to share. Thanks.