Growing up in an urban area, the few times I got the chance to see a deer grazing was a beautiful sight. Now, the sight of deer just means trouble for our gardens and landscaping. Deer have few, if any predators in our area and are able to grow their population with ease. Although they often have wooded areas nearby with plenty of food, your garden offers an all-you-can-eat buffet style variety. If food supplies are scarce, the deer will eat just about anything that’s growing in your yard. So what can you do to keep your plants safe?
Here are four strategies to keep the deer away:
Plant known “deer-resistant” varieties
There are few completely deer resistant varieties. When food sources are low, deer will eat plants that they would normally leave alone. That being said, it still makes more sense to plant those varieties instead of ones the deer love.
- Blue Spruce
- Flowering dogwoods
- Ornamental grasses
- Russian sage
- Most ferns
- Moonbeam coreopsis
- Bleeding heart
- Lenten rose
- Shasta Daisy
Deer repellents discourage the deer by either tasting or smelling bad. Many, such as Liquid Fence, use rotten eggs and garlic. Others use predator urine or even dried blood. I have found that regardless of which one you choose, eventually the deer becomes accustomed to it. It's a good idea to switch products up to avoid this. Most products require repeat sprays after every rain. This past summer I used a product by the name of Plantskydd. It was horrible to mix and clogged the sprayer, but it doesn’t need reapplied after rain and it lasted about two months. Not quite the results it brags about, but much better than those that need constant application. I also used a product called I.M.G. Much easier to mix, and also lasts through more than just one rain. There are many more to choose from, these are just the few that I have tried. Make sure you begin using the repellents before you actually see the deer. Also, reapply on any new shoots as these will have no protection. Keeping them from entering the yard helps to keep them from discovering what goodies it contains.
Deer are always on the alert for predators. Sudden noises will send a deer running. As with repellents, deer become accustomed to the noises so these devices need to be moved around to keep them confused and alert.
Creating a physical barrier, such as a fence, is easily the most effective way to keep deer from entering the yard; it’s also the most expensive. Deer can jump very high so the fence needs to be at least seven feet. If it’s a small area the fence can be four feet. Deer do not like entering small areas. For added protection a second fence can be added. Deer have poor depth perception and a double fence will unnerve them. To deter bucks from rubbing their antlers on the tree trunks there are tree wrap products that are very effective. In the winter, a cheaper but still effective physical barrier would be to wrap the plant. People use all sorts of products from burlap to nylon netting.
Often times, one defense mechanism is not enough. Combining multiple products or strategies is your best bet to keep the heartache at bay.