You all know by now that I love tulips in the spring and daylily in the summer but one problem that I have encountered here in the Midwest is what is know as “deer browsing.” Deer browsing basically means that your landscape becomes a salad bar for hungry deer.
I think that’s a cute term, and deer themselves are even cuter, but truthfully, deer damage is devastating to my expensive plantings.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the deer. We see them in the cornfield behind the house quite often. I just don’t want the deer damaging my landscape in the process.
How to Protect Plants From Deer
It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate deer damage in your landscape, especially if their populations are high, but you can reduce it to the point where it is not noticed.
The most obvious way to reduce damage is to find out what Bambi likes to eat and just don’t put that in your landscape! But most of you are like me, and your love for flowers makes it so you can’t do without them, so this idea is not gonna work.
Another idea is to surround the deer’s favorite plants with other ones that they don’t like so much. For example, deer love tulips, but very rarely eat daffodils. So you plant a few tulips within a large ring of daffodils. While this may seem logical, but trust me, it does not work! Deer ain’t stupid and they’ll trample those trumpety yellow daffs just to get to your Darwin Hybrids!
Deer Prevention using Scents and Deer Repellent
The two types of deer repellents are ‘contact’ repellents and ‘area’ repellents.
Contact repellents are applied directly to plants, causing them to taste bad. Area repellents are placed in a problem area and repel by their foul odor. A great area repellant is my favorite organic fertilizer, Milorganite. It’s also good for the plants and does work fairly well to repel deer.
Apply contact repellents on a dry day with temperatures above freezing. Treat small trees completely. Older, larger trees may be treated only on their new growth as it is most tender. Treat to a height 6 feet above the maximum expected snow depth. Deer browse from the top down. Hang or apply repellents at the bud or new growth level of the plants you wish to protect.
Home Remedy Deer Repellent
A spray of 20 percent whole eggs and 80 percent water is one of the most effective repellents. To prevent the sprayer from clogging, remove the screen or white membrane attached to the end before mixing the eggs. The egg mixture is weather resistant but must be reapplied in about 30 days. Be prepared, however, as this spray smells like arse to humans after a few days also! Something about rotting egg smell doesn’t seem too homey!
Other home-remedy deer repellents are not too effective, but they are worth mentioning anyway just for fun. These include small, fine-mesh bags of human hair (about two handfuls) and bar soap hung from branches of trees. Replace both soap and hair bags monthly. (Dial soap yellow works the best and smells a lot better than the rotting egg ideas mentioned above). Materials that work in one area or for one person may not work at all in an area more highly frequented by deer for be prepared to try several of these methods.
If you have a teenager in your house, just take the stuff you find under their bed and hang that in trees. No deer wants anything to do with a hormonal adolescent on a rampage! (just kidding folks)
Fencing to Stop Deer
Of course, you could put up fences everywhere and that will pretty much stop the deer, but they can jump pretty high. In addition, fencing blocks the view of my tulips and that defeats the purpose.
I’m also not a big fan of netting or tubing because I don’t want to put my plants in jail! But I have found a nice alternative that works very well. It is the Contech Scarecrow which is nothing more than a motion-activated sprinkler that squirts the deer when they come near.
This works very well in the spring and summer as long as temps don’t fall below freezing, but deer will soon realize there is no real danger and eat anyway.
I hope the ideas above will help keep your landscape from becoming an “Old Country Buffet” for the deer this year! What methods have you guys used? Please leave a comment below.____________________________________________________________
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