I’ve written many articles on effective deer control so I thought I’d summarize what I know from my own personal experience with my own personal deer herd. (Our island is overrun with Bambi wannabees and I don’t kill them, I just want to co-exist and garden)
Deer Psychology- Important!
Deer are both creatures of habit and skittish. So they like to travel the same route and get upset if something is “different”.
Our job as gardeners is to approach deer control from several different perspectives.
The first is to create something that’s constantly different in their lives so they are less likely to approach our gardens and the second is to encourage them to travel in different areas.
How Do We Create Something Different?
The main way we do this is by introducing different fragrances to the area.
Deer have a keen sense of smell and when they smell a new fragrance they become skittish and tend to avoid the area if possible.
So we hang out soap bars on apple trees, pee around the yard (yes you read it right) and do all kinds of things that provide different fragrances that can be found on the Net.
But all are short term and have to be constantly rotated to keep the deer skittish.
Forget one week and they’ll be there to eat.
Here are reviews of two products that I’ve found to really work. Liquid Fence and Plantskydd. And here’s my homemade deer deterrent recipe that works as well.
Another one I’ve played with it called “Deer Off” and it too works as advertised if you keep it regularly sprayed.
Important note re Fragrances
You have to alternate fragrances. Remember a deer gets used to a fragrance and the deal is that you have to constantly create something new in their lives.
Rotate fragrances, move the location of them around from side to side or length to length of your area, keep the animal off-balance and always sensing something different and possibly threatening. They’ll then tend to want to move away from your garden.
I’m not saying they won’t still be there but if another area is more attractive, they’ll tend to move that way.
The Ultimate Solution
The bottom line however is that a hungry deer will eat almost anything. There are countless lists on the Net with plants deer won’t eat Yeah right. There are countless complaints that my deer ate that plant!
A hungry deer will eat anything up to and including daffodils (but those are very hungry deer). Yews, thorny plants – no problems. What it eats in your garden, it ignores in mine. What it makes a main course in mine, your deer never touch. There is no “rule” for what a hungry deer won’t eat – no single plant that works everywhere.
The ultimate solution to convince a deer to travel in different directions is a deer fence
We’re not talking about a low farm fence, we’re talking about a nearly invisible kind of plastic netting that they can’t jump over.
There are two weights of this plastic. The light weight is good for animal stopping- a deer won’t see it and will walk right into it. The light weight handles this kind of activity with no problem.
But it’s light, it will not handle the crashing weight of a large buck being chased by dogs. He’ll go right through it… and then he’s trapped inside.
I know the heavy weight is more expensive, but compared to the value your landscaping adds to your house, it’s a minor cost to protect your investment (never mind your annuals and perennials) in evergreens, shrubs and trees.
My Personal Bottom Line
It’s an ongoing battle – just when you think you have it sorted out, the deer will change up so you have to be smarter than a deer. 🙂
What I did do last summer was start clearing land (20 foot swaths) through some of the underbrush areas and piling the brush along one side of the clearing so deer won’t want to walk through it – deer like to have clear footing and won’t willingly enter an area where the brush is lying on the ground.
Update: this stopped the deer from travelling along the front of our house/gardens. I toss any trimmings down there to maintain this barrier. Mind you, it’s ugly but it’s not visible for us or the neighbors.
I also spray different material around those cleared areas to warn the deer off.
Instead of thick underbrush, they had cleared areas that smelled different. They actually started avoiding this area and switched their traffic pattern to the front of the property. This spraying will be repeated this spring and I’ll start laying in the fences for a good deer control program.
I use both kinds of deer control. I use different fragrances and I intend to use fencing. I don’t necessarily want to hurt the animals, I want them to avoid my garden. They can eat anything else they want, as long as they leave my personal plants alone.