Don’t let garden become buffet for deer

  • Friday, October 25, 2013

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Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into all-you-can-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening.

Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the “easy pickings” they find in neighborhood yards. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area.

Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a garden.

Fence it

Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden.

Scare them

Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence.

Motion-activated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea.

Repel the deer

There are many organic or chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell.

Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use of blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. However, remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or smells for a quick bite.

Change plants

If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer.

When planting annuals, select among:

• Alyssum

• Begonias

• Calendula

• Celosia

• Dianthus

• Foxglove

• Geraniums

• Parsley

• Poppy

• Snapdragons


In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away:

• Ageratum

• Anemone

• Astibe

• Bearded iris

• Catmint

• Honeysuckle

• Lantana

• Monkshood

• Rock rose

• Rosemary

• Soapwort

• Wisteria

Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection:

• Chives

• Eucalyptus

• Garlic

• Mint

• Thyme

• Wintergreen

Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.

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