- Avoid planting deer favorites like roses.deer image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com
Deer are notorious for foraging in gardens and lawns in the late fall and early spring. They venture into hunter-free suburbs or onto quiet farms looking for plants, flowers and shrubs. And when they find them, they can do severe damage. A single deer can eat up to 8 lbs. of vegetation each day, quickly wreaking havoc on well-tended landscaping. But property owners can take a variety of steps that will keep deer bounding through open fields instead of through their flowerbeds.
Avoid Deer Favorites
- If deer are abundant where you live, avoid planting their favorite vegetation in favor of plants they find less appetizing. According to George Weigel of GardenPA.com, deer are fond of tulips, hosta, daylilies, yews, burning bushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, most roses, fruits and vegetables. But they don't like barberry, daphne, spirea or sumac shrubs. They pass up boxwood, nandina or spruce evergreens. They're also turned off by balloon flowers, catmint, ferns, iris, lavender, oregano and yarrow, to name a few perrenials. And they aren't attracted to annuals such as ageratum, cleome, lantana, marigold, pentas or snapdragons.
- There are countless products that repel deer by odor or taste. Deer don't like the smell of blood, rotten eggs or garlic, for example, and they shy away from bitter tastes. Many nurseries sell deer-repellant sprays or coatings that can be applied to plants to give them these smells and tastes. Products that are popular with gardeners, according to GardenPA.com, are Bobbex, Plantskydd, Deer-Away, Deer Scram, Liquid Fence and Deer Off. Just be sure to apply enough to keep the scent strong. Apply them in the early morning or early evening. Because deer are sensitive to the smell of hunters, they are also likely to stay away if you hang sweaty shirts or muslin bags filled with human hair near the garden. Another option is fertilizing with Milorganite, a granular made from treated sewage, which also has enough human scent to deter the marauders.
- If hungry deer aren't repulsed by smells and tastes, consider using sights and sounds to startle them. Motion-activated gadgets will spray water, flash lights, play the radio or shoot mini-cannons to scare deer away. According to the National Home Gardening Club, one popular device, the Deer Chaser, will emit sound and light at regular intervals. It is effective up to 25 feet away, according to the club's website. Gardeners can choose the duration and frequency of the sound and light. But these strategies may only work for a given period of time, according to a column by Barbara Damrosch in the "Washington Post." Damrosch said deer quickly became accustomed to a device that emitted the sound of a mountain lion every five minutes near her garden and began raiding vegetables once again.
- Damrosch and other gardeners say a good fence may be the safest option, especially for a small vegetable garden. Usually, a 6-foot fence will be sufficient, but in some areas, fences should be higher than 8 feet, Damrosch said. Two fences that are spaced 4 to 5 feet apart will usually deter deer, and fences with outwardly slanting baffles will often do the trick, she said. The simplest fence of all is a strand of heavy-duty, deep-sea fishing line strung between trees 2 to 3 feet off the ground, according to GardenPA.com. Many gardeners say it confuses deer when they bump into, according to the website.