natural remedies

Oh Deer! My Garden Is A Buffet!

How To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

When I was a child, I adored Bambi just like every other girl I knew. Now as a landscape designer and avid gardener, I find that sweet little Bambi is a destructive creature that devours my landscape each year. As deer populations continue to increase and as more land is being developed, New Jersey residents share in my frustration towards this nuisance pest problem. Deer will eat just about anything vegetative and boy do they eat a lot – and comparable to humans, they become less picky about their menu the hungrier they are.

The average adult male deer can consume more than five pounds a day! So, how do you keep deer from turning your backyard into their new favorite restaurant? The key to keeping deer out of your garden begins with early intervention. Taking preventative measures before the deer move in will prove for better results and keep your hosta safe. There are several different methods of organic and natural deer control to help you protect your landscape when the herd begins moving through.  

The most natural form of deer control is planting specific flowers that deer have been known to specifically avoid. If you are designing your garden and you know that deer are a concern in your area – take the safe route and plant deer resistant plants. Colorado State University says that plants such as Rudbeckia, Daffodils and Virginia creeper. If you are designing your garden and you know that deer are a concern in your area – take the safe route and plant deer resistant plants. Although deer do steer clear of certain plants and there are those that deer do not typically chow down on – keep in mind that if they are desperate enough or if food is sparse, they will eat just about anything. 

Another method of deer control is by using fencing or netting in or around your garden. Fencing is probably the best solution to your deer problems however it is not the most aesthetic and can become pretty pricy to build and install. Typically a deer-proof fence is about 8 feet high and is made of woven wire. It is possible to get away with a shorter fence being that deer are opportunistic feeders as they tend to avoid barriers especially if there is alternative food source. Netting is a safe and humane way to keep the deer out – it works best for small trees. It allows for sunlight and rain but protects them from those pesky deer. 

There are also devices that you can use in your garden to repel the deer and prevent them from wanting to come back to dine on your arborvitae. You could try using a motion-activated sprayer for example. When the device is triggered it shoots out a cold blast of water – the sudden noise and unexpected spray will scare any foraging animal and at the same time teach them to avoid the area in the future. Another option is using an ultrasonic device. This device emits a noise that the deer can’t tolerate. The deer will react negatively to this sound similar to how we would react to someone scratching their nails on a chalkboard – they simply can’t stand it!

Lastly, if those methods do not work or you’d prefer to try a different tactic, there are always deer repellents. Deer repellents can be a spray, dust, granule or anything left around your plant material to keep the deer away. Everyone has a different opinion on which deer repellent is most effective and honestly the best way to find out which one works best in your garden is by trial and error. Deer can also become less deterred by a repellent overtime so what used to work could become less effective over time – this can be remedied by switching up your repellents year to year.

Repellents can range from a bar of scented soap that you hang near your plants to sprays containing the urine of predators (such as coyotes). There also homeowners who make their own deer repellent; there are a huge number of recipes for this type of repellent, but again you have to find which deterrent works on your deer. Repellents do need to be reapplied every so often depending on the time of year and the amount of rain you receive. Some repellents work by making the plant material smell and taste bad so take care when applying it near food crops – if it tastes bad to the deer it will taste bad to you as well. 

When all else fails, or you seem to be stumped on how to keep these pesky critters out of your yard, New Jersey does have a company that uses their own patented all natural environmentally friendly deer repellent. When it comes to keeping deer from dining on your landscape plants, the struggle is very real. I’ve been fighting this battle personally for quite some time; one year the deer must have really been starving because they completely leveled my carpet roses – thorns and all (if you can believe it). Taking action before the deer cause any damage and using one or more of these methods will absolutely help keep your garden plants off the menu!