The Buck Stops Here!
Would you love to have a beautifully landscaped garden around your home? But, you feel like every time you plant something in your garden you are simply providing an hors d' oeuvre for the local deer population? Well, you are not alone. It is possible to smell the flowers, while enjoying the browsing deer in your backyard. With just a little special planning, you too can have a stunning landscape.
Use Protective Measures:
- Fencing – deer can jump anything lower than 8 feet, unless you use double fencing (two fences around whatever you are trying to protect, 4 ft. high and 5 ft. apart)
- Netting – construct temporary fencing using deer netting and temporary steel poles or use the netting to wrap around larger plants.
I know, I know, everyone hates to put up any type of fencing or netting, but sometimes it can be your only option in the short term. Young trees and shrubs often need to be protected from deer browsing, but as they mature and become woody they are dropped from a deer’s menu. Newly planted perennials can often be ripped right out of the ground by deer, but once established, even if eaten, they will soon produce new foliage and flowers. At my house, I need to put up temporary fencing around new plantings in the winter, but they come down in spring.
Change the menu –use undesirable plants, including:
- fragrant (or as some people say “smelly”) - mint, chives, lavender, sage, rosemary, peonies, iris, salvia, marigolds, monarda, allium
- hairy – lamp’s ear, pulmonaria
- poisonous - foxglove, daffodils, poppies, hellebores, euphorbia, baptisia (not all plants labeled as poisonous are life threatening, instead, many tend to cause gastrointestinal distress, hence, why deer do not eat them)
- prickly (you will need to wear gloves with these) - spruce, barberry, brunnera, cleome
Scare tactics – use sound, light, motion (wind chimes, flags, windsocks, dogs, motion sensors)
What is that smell? – Deer do not like strong scents
- plant onions, garlic
- scented soaps (Dial, Irish Spring)
- premade deer deterrent, such as: Liquid Fence, Deer Scram, Plant Saver
- or make your own
To make homemade deer repellant, place 3 eggs, 3 tbsp. garlic juice, 3 tbsp. hot pepper sauce and 1/2-cup water in a blender. Process until combined. Add this mixture to 1 gallon of water and fill a spray bottle with the repellant. Spray your outdoor plants to repel deer.
Or you may want to try: place 2 eggs, 1 cup water, 1 cup skim milk in a blender. Process until combined. Spray on plants.
Another popular recipe is 2 eggs, 2 tbsp. oil mixed well. Add this mixture to 2 gallons of water. Fill a spray bottle with this repellant, and spray plants as needed to keep deer at bay.
Adding 2 tbsp. of dish washing liquid to any of the above recipes will improve adherence to plant leaves.
A few words of wisdom:
Deer appetites vary by neighborhood based on the pressure in that area. In other words, if you live in an area with an over-abundance of deer, the deer will eat plants normally not on their preferred menu. Go into this venture anticipating that you will have to experiment and there will be some successes, but also disappointing failures. Keep trying!!
DO NOT FEED THE DEER. You aren’t doing yourself, your neighbors, or the deer any favors. By feeding deer you are bringing diseases and parasites into your yard, which can then transfer to your pets and children. Deer over browse the areas around feeding stations (yours and the neighbor’s yards) and when well fed will produce more offspring adding to the overpopulation problem.
You will have greater success if two or more protective measures are incorporated into your landscape. For example: use deer resistant plants and a deterrent, such as motion sensors or Liquid Fence.
Check out "Deer Resistant Plants" for an updated list.