How to Reduce Deer Damage

How to Reduce Deer Damage

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My, what yummy plants you have here!

White-tailed deer are among the most graceful of all of God’s creatures. But they also have a reputation for multiplying, establishing their homes near humans, and foraging through suburban gardens. In some communities deer seem to have taken over, leaving behind a trail of destruction including scat and deer ticks.

If a deer is hungry, she’ll eat just about any plant she finds appetizing. Repellents and netting can help limit deer damage, but when it comes to keeping deer completely away only fencing will do.

Still, there are some plants, nets, repellents and other devices you can use if fencing is not an option or a desirable outcome for you. But please know this: not every plan of action is right for every homeowner, so let’s look at some options and how these may impact your deer thwarting plans.

Fencing – If you can fence in your yard, you’ll keep the deer out. But you’ll also obstruct your views, impede some wildlife you might be happy to see in your yard such as rabbits, though your neighborhood association or town may restrict what you can put up. The cost of fencing can add up too especially if you’re looking at protecting acres of property instead of a suburban plot.

Netting – Netting and tubing can keep bucks away from trees, a favorite way for them to scrape the velvet off of their antlers. Vexar netting is compostable, allowing light and water to enter in. Some people will find that netting isn’t enough, with special fencing placed around the trunk of the tree being the only sound option to prevent deer damage.

Fido – A restrained dog can keep deer at bay, but expecting your canine companion to be on duty around the clock may be a bit too much to ask. Deer will often forage early and late which means your neighbors and you may not enjoy a 2 a.m. awakening due to the tenacity of your four-legged sentry.

Plants – What is growing in your yard that deer like? Probably just about everything especially if he is hungry. According to the Colorado State University Extension Service, deer are more prone to eat strawberry plants, phlox, geraniums, tulips, or sunflowers than they are daffodils, larkspur, lavender, thyme, or Russian sage. But are you willing to change what you grow simply to keep deer away?

Repellents – You probably don’t want to deal with toxic chemicals when trying to keep deer away, but thiram may be something to explore if your natural options don’t seem to work. Speaking of natural, hanging heavily perfumed bar soap around your yard can thwart deers. A mixture of rotting eggs and water is favored by some with the University of Connecticut suggesting that this blend consist of a dozen eggs and five gallons of water. Using rancid meats, hanging human hair in mesh bags, placing manure around the property from coyotes or big cats (such as cougars) or spraying plants with hot sauce can also have the intended effect. You may find rotating several solutions to be most efficacious as deer tend to adjust if they’re hungry enough.

Of course, there is one solution favored by some homeowners that comes but once a year: hunting season!

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Photo Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson

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