Defense Against Deer
Deer love to munch on the flowers, plants and trees in our gardens. Try as we might to discourage
them, they continue to devour what we try to cultivate. By planting a garden, you have effectively put
out an all you can eat salad bar for the deer. So what can be done? To discourage deer from eating
your garden, you have four basic options.
- Fence the deer out
- Scare the deer away.
- Make your garden unpleasant for deer.
- Choose plants that deer don't like.
Deer in some places are known to jump over an eight foot fence (they need to be fairly motivated)
but for most regions eight feet is adequate to keep them out. Fences shorter than eight feet will
serve as a deterrent, but will not be entirely effective. If there are visible obstacles, such as tall
wooden stakes, in their landing zone, they will serve as a deterrent. Any fence is more effective if
deer can't see what is on the other side. Fencing must completely enclose the area to be protected.
Fencing only the sides where deer typically enter will simply result in the deer making a new
pathway into your yard.
Traditionally, deer-proof fences were made from woven wire. Now however, there are polypropylene
products on the market that are lighter, cheaper and easy to install. Both types of fencing blend into
the background and are fairly invisible. In a wooded environment, fencing can be stretched from tree
to tree. Otherwise, tall fence posts will have to be installed. For long stretches a support wire can
be strung along the top of the fencing to keep it from sagging.
Another option is to install an electrified fence. It is the least likely fence to obstruct your view
because of its thin horizontal wires; however this may not be the best option if you have children.
Please remember that no matter what type of fence you choose, make it deer safe as well as deer
proof. Many deer die each year from jumping over barbed wire fences. The wire cuts their stomachs
and they die a slow death as a result. We want to prevent deer from ruining our gardens…not kill them.
If you have a dog it may help to deter deer as the barking and scent will scare them off. Motion
triggered devices that shoot water or emit high pitched sounds will most certainly send a deer off on
Deer are sensitive to odour and taste. Human or dog hair strung from branches are a deterrent, as
are dryer sheets strangely enough. What may be sweet to us is horrific smelling to a deer. Deer
repellent odour sprays are also available, and work well when the scents are mixed. Homemade
sprays are inexpensive and easy to make. Spraying plants with a hot sauce mix may make deer
think twice about using your garden as a personal kitchen.
A final option is to plant deer resistant foliage. Few plants are fully deer proof, but many are not
particularly palatable to the beasties.
Deer Resistant Plants:
Convallaria majalis Lily of The Valley
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian Sage
and most aromatic herbs such as Artemisia.