Deer are graceful and majestic. The sight of one can almost astound you. When you see one eating the plants in your garden, however, that wonderful feeling of a deer sighting may not be as pleasant. Although some deer are not that easy to deter, there are some things you can try to help keep those annoying deer out of your garden without having to harm them.
Deer can cause damage not only to newly planted seedlings, but also to more established plants and shrubbery. They may eat leaves from trees, remove the tops of tomato plants, or devour fruits and berries. An adult male may even kill a tree by rubbing his antlers along the trees stems or trunk.
A deer repellent works by either having an offensive smell or an offensive taste. Several natural repellents have odors that deer do not particularly like. Mesh bags filled with human hair, animal waste hung in cloth bags, and bars of soap placed on wires, are considered particularly effective. It is usually best to apply a couple of these methods at one time and change them out on a rotating basis. Natural repellents should be replenished every three to four weeks or whenever the scent appears to be waning.
Commercial repellents are generally either used as a spray around the perimeter of a garden or applied directly to the plants and trees that need protecting. Since some commercial repellents may need reapplication after heavy rains, it is advisable to keep an eye on the weather. Although commercial repellents typically last anywhere from 10 days to four weeks, follow the manufacturer’s directions for specific instructions.
There are several ways to fence off a garden that will keep deer out. The amount of time and expense you wish to spend, however, may depend on how serious the deer problem is. If the deer population is low, a single strand of wire for an electric fence may be all that is needed. For larger populations, however, additional strands placed at various levels may be required. More permanent fences can offer a better solution, but are more expensive and need to be at least 8 feet high to be effective.
Scare devices are devices that use motion or sound to keep deer away from a certain area. Strobe lights, water sprinklers, propane canons and fireworks may all deter deer from a garden. Even the barking of dogs will sometimes keep deer away. This method normally only works for a short period, however, because deer eventually figure out that they will not be hurt by these devices and soon return to the area.