In our areas in Central Oregon, the deer much outweigh all the dogs and cats combined. They are placid creatures that we like watching and admiring, but they are also among the most feared wildlife pests since they consume almost everything in their path, even your beloved plant.
If you turn around, a hungry deer may quickly destroy your garden.
An experienced gardener once chuckled and replied, “You can’t,” when I asked her what people can do about deer in their yards.
In most cases, she was completely correct. No matter how hard we try, we will never totally eradicate them.
Humans have to accept the presence of deer and some degree of deer damage (particularly given how much we have invaded their region).
However, there are a few crucial tactics that might give us the advantage when it comes to preserving our crops.
Plant Deer Resistant Plants
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There aren’t many plants that can withstand deer completely. A deer will consume almost anything if it is sufficiently hungry. (And it appears that they adore hibiscus!)
Sprinkle some soap
I remember as a child seeing my mother skewer cubes of the lime-green Irish Spring Original soap into the ground around fresh plants every spring.
To prevent deer from chomping on the young plants and to allow the early plants to grow, she would raise the height of each wooden skewer so that it was just over them. She occasionally shaved the soap around seedlings before they emerged using a long-grain grater.
The nicest aspect, she says, is that soap lasts for approximately a month. It only degrades in the rain, has no impact on plants, and aids in the hydration of any bugs or aphids that may be hiding in the soil.
You don’t have to use Irish Spring since the tallow in the soap, according to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science, helps keep deer away. A variety of extremely scented types might prevent your flowers from turning into deer candy, but avoid bars with coconut oil as they can draw them instead.
Put Up a Fence
I discovered that installing a fence was the quickest and most effective way to protect my garden. Your greatest option is going to be something durable. My companion, however, just asked that I think of something that may fall in the fall. I decided to buy some metal posts and a number of long rolls of wire fence.
I would drive the posts into the ground, spaced approximately 4′ apart, every spring after the garden had been tilled, and then zip-tie the wire fence to the stakes. At one corner, I would set up a small improvised fence. This was quite effective.
To achieve success with my temporary fence, I performed two things. In order to prevent deer from leaping the fence, I made sure it was at least three feet high.
In order to avoid long necks from reaching the garden, I also left a 2′ perimeter of turf surrounding it within the fence. The grass was manageable with the odd run of the weed trimmer, and it formed a lovely path inside for working in the garden.
I just took out my stakes and folded up the wire to be stored for the winter at the conclusion of the growing season.
I am aware that building a fence isn’t always practicable, but it works well anyway.
Keep reading for other suggestions if fencing doesn’t work for you.
Deer are quite wary creatures. They are a predator to none and a prey to many (except your garden). You may thus take use of this to keep them at bay.
It’s important to alter things up while dealing with deer. The unexpected is what appears to elicit a response from them. Deer will, however, become used to whatever noises or techniques we devise to scare them away if they are used too frequently.
Plant Trees And Shrubs Inside The Fence
Plant tall, broad trees and bushes around the inside of a shorter fence to deter deer from jumping over it.
The deer won’t jump if they can’t see a clear landing location.
Additionally, it widens the area they must jump across, simulating a double barrier without the need to construct an additional one.
The bushes don’t have to be identical plants or placed in a straight line.
In my situation, I built garden beds all the way along the inside of the fence and arranged a variety of plants there. To mention a few, there are decorative grasses, blue junipers, Magnolia shrubs, Daphne, Hydrangeas, and Japanese Maples. The fence is scarcely visible in the image due to the dense vegetation, as you can see.
For a deer-proof garden, using evergreens and other plants that maintain their form in the winter is very helpful since they offer year-round covering.
Additionally, you can grow shrubs outside the fence. especially if they are a kind that can withstand deer. Nature has been able to assist me in several ways. On the side of the ravine, there are areas of extremely spiky wild blackberries that grow.
I’m sure the plants help keep the deer from going too near, despite the fact that they are a pain in the rear (they spread everywhere and scratch like crazy!).
Make some noise
According to Dr. Leonard Perry, a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil at the University of Vermont, “by mimicking unexpected sights and noises, you are triggering the deer’s principal defense against predation.” For instance, if you hang CDs from your garden, deer will panic since the motion is unfamiliar to them.
Making a white flag that is 10 inches long and 5 inches broad and that mimics a white deer tail is another powerful image. They frequently become frightened and leave when they see this “tail” move but no deer, he claims.
Pie pans and aluminum cans hung up provide an odd sight and sound. Another sound strategy you may use is talk radio, as Perry continues, “Some gardeners swear by it.”
To make them effective, you must alternate the spookiness techniques you employ across your garden; otherwise, the deer will become accustomed to them and keep nibbling on your plants.
Hang a few wind chimes of various sizes from the branches of fruit trees to keep them secure. Use wooden and metal chimes to produce various sounds.
Keep in mind that you need to keep people guessing. The impact of a sound will fade after the deer become accustomed to it. Additionally, balloons can be strung up from the trees. The balloons will spookily flutter in the woods due to the wind.
Enclose garden beds or plants individually
It could be simpler to individually cover each plant using cloches, cages, netting, or other physical barriers if you only need to protect a few vegetable beds or a few particular species.
This makes the most sense if you also need to manage garden pests like rabbits, raccoons, or opossums. It could also shield seedlings from insect pests that lay their eggs and hatch their young on leaves that are exposed, depending on the sort of enclosure being employed.
For residential gardens, a variety of enclosures are effective, including:
Extra-tall crop cages include zippered holes that allow you to stroll in and pick your plants without taking the cage off. They completely enclose an in-ground garden bed.
Mesh pop-up enclosures are lightweight and portable, covering a typical raised bed with ease and requiring no setup. They can fold flat for storage.
Smaller cages called “chicken wire crop coops” are intended to protect young crops or full raised beds.
Poly deer netting may be used to cover vast or oddly shaped locations where a pre-made cage won’t fit since it is lightweight and robust.
In a generally deer-resistant environment, some plants that require further protection are covered with chicken wire cloches.
Plant Heavily Scented Herbs and Flowers
Lavender, chives, mint, and marigold are all excellent choices for herbs.
Both of these plants’ pungent effects occur. Deer avoid areas with strong scents because they take up the fragrance on their fur and stand out more. Not what you want when you’re a hunted animal prowling through the forest.
The aroma of delectable veggies emanating from your garden is also covered up by airborne scents like lavender and mint.
It’s still a good idea to plant a few of these more strongly fragrant plants along the margins of your garden and land, even though you don’t really need a perimeter fence built completely of lavender. Having a few extra plants is usually a smart idea because there are so many different things you can do with lavender.
Use Mass Planting
Mass planting of the plants that deer do enjoy eating is an additional approach.
While the deer will still be able to browse them, this will allow you to still have some flowers after they’ve done.
The objective is to produce several of the same Hydrangea in one location rather than just one (which would get eaten). The plants on the perimeter of the group will be eaten by the deer, but they frequently won’t make an effort to reach the plants in the centre.
There will still be some blossoms for you to admire.
Use deer spray or other natural repellents
Deer repellent sprays are highly effective when used appropriately and consistently. Many of them have deer-repelling active components like cinnamon, clove, or mint in their formulae and are safe for children, pets, and other wildlife.
To prevent your local deer from growing acclimated to the fragrance, I do advise sometimes shaking things up by using different brands of deer spray with slightly different scent mixtures.
I’ve compiled a list of the top deer repellents available today.
You may also manufacture your own deer repellent (a Google search for “DIY deer repellent” will turn up a ton of results), but keep in mind that you need to reapply it after each irrigation cycle or rainstorm.
Motion-activated sprinklers and ultrasonic noisemakers can also be somewhat helpful, but it’s best to move them around every few weeks to avoid the deer developing a tolerance for them.
Make this invisible fence
Setting up a fence around your garden may be the easiest approach to control deer. However, you are not need to be a carpenter or sacrifice the elegance of your property. Gene Lorainne, a horticulturist and plant specialist, uses just a few rows of transparent fishing wire to keep deer out of her garden.
She posts the garden’s boundaries with a large piece of wood (about 5 feet high), and then begins to stretch a row of fishing line 2 to 3 inches above the ground. Three more times, she does this, spacing the fishing wire rows approximately a foot apart.
The end product was a high, nearly undetectable barrier. The deer won’t try to jump over the cords since they can’t see them, said Lorainne. You may do this to keep them out while still enjoying your idyllic little corner of heaven.
Never feed the deer
Feeding animals is never a good idea, despite the good intentions of those who leave out food and drink for deer. You’ll be making your neighbors’ deer problems worse in addition to your own.
Deer will gather in areas where food is easily accessible (and bring their pals along with them), which can result in an unhealthily low level of fear of people, a rise in the danger of animal-to-animal disease transmission, car crashes, and habitat destruction. (This is covered in great detail in this document from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.)
It might also be dangerous for your dogs to invite deer into your yard. Deer have been known to attack dogs even though they are typically quite cautious and gentle if they feel threatened or need to defend their young.
So stay away from the deer and give them space. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you with some forethought and work on your side.
Create A Rock Garden Perimeter
Create a rock garden around the outside of your yard to keep deer away from your flower beds. (Many contemporary zoos employ this technique to keep the animals in their enclosures.)
Deer hate rocky terrain, so enclosing your yard with a sizable rock garden may be an effective deterrent.
Change up the size of the rocks to make this function best. In this manner, there won’t be a lot of flat ground for the deer to traverse.
In order to prevent the deer from having a clear landing location, you might alternatively combine a fence with a rock garden.
I inadvertently crossed my yard’s back in this manner. I removed a lot of rocks from the ground when I initially moved into my home and started making garden beds. They were all stacked within the gate, where I had planned to build a tiered rock garden but never did.
Shiny and Flashy
Around the outside of your garden, strung old CDs from tree branches or with fishing line. Deer will stay away due to the sound of them smashing together and the light flashes. Pie pans made of aluminum also work nicely.
In her yard, my grandmother used to suspend three disposable pie pans from the corner of each fence post. Even metallic streamers that sparkle may be bought to hang in your trees and yard. The movement and light flashes caused by the wind and sun scare away not just animals but even birds.