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Dealing with Deer

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Dewitt Deer FencingDeer can be beautiful to look at, but they can wreak havoc on a garden, devouring the plants you have worked so hard to grow. Here are some tips to keep deer from feasting on your garden.

  • Deer like high-protein, moisture-rich plants, especially in the spring when they are trying to regain weight lost during the winter and does are nursing their fawns. Don't plant too much English ivy, lettuce, beans, peas, hostas, impatiens, or pansies because they will be sure to attract deer.
  • Deer like to eat plants that are smooth and tender, such as chrysanthemums, clematis, roses, azalea bushes, and berries. Plant these close to your house to deter deer from coming too close.
  • Deer will avoid plants if they don't like the texture. Grow fuzzy lamb's ear, barberries, cleome, or thorny Scotch or rugosa roses near plants that you want to keep safe from deer.
  • Place netting over fruit, bulbs, and bushes. Wrap trees with tree protectors or plastic tree wrap.
  • Keep your garden well maintained. Trim tall grasses, pick fruit when it is ripe, and discard crops after the harvest.
  • There are several deer repellents you can try that will keep deer away with unpleasant smells. Apply the repellent starting at the ground and going up six feet. Reapply it after it rains. Change the formula you use from time to time to protect your plants and to keep the deer from getting used to it.
  • The scents of garlic, chives, mint, and lavender can mask the smells of other plants that deer might be tempted to eat. You can use other odors, such as soap bars hung from trees, hot pepper spray, rotten egg mixtures, rags soaked in ammonia, and bags of hair and/or blood meal to keep deer out of your garden. Always use humane formulas, not ones that could be poisonous to deer, other wildlife, or pets.
  • Plant thick hedges, boxwoods, or short needle spruces around your garden. If the deer can't see what is growing in your garden, they may decide to look elsewhere for their next meal.
  • Another method to keep deer out of your garden is to string fishing line around your plants two to three feet from the ground. This will confuse the deer and cause them to flee.
  • The most effective way to keep deer out of your garden is to build a fence. Deer are good jumpers, so make the fence at least 8 feet tall. Gaps should be no more than 6 inches by 6 inches. An electric fence is another option.
  • Deer are not good climbers, so you can keep them out of your garden by adding terraces or sunken beds or stacking pallets around your property.
  • Deer are afraid of unfamiliar objects. Scarecrows, sundials, garden ornaments with moving parts, and wind chimes can keep them from entering your garden.
  • Deer don't like bright lights, so you can install motion-activated floodlights to keep them away at night.
  • Deer are afraid of loud noises. You can keep them away with firecrackers, wind chimes, or a radio tuned to the static between stations.
  • Motion-activated sprinklers can chase deer away.
  • Dogs can be an effective deer deterrent, regardless of their size. Taking your dog out while you are gardening or while your children are playing in the yard can keep deer away.

Not all of these strategies will be effective 100 percent of the time, so you might want to use more than one. The key is to take precautions early, before deer have a chance to begin damaging your garden.

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