Deer are bound to pay the blueberry plants in your backyard a visit. These high-energy fruits are a favorite among wandering deer that eat them straight off the plant, without causing much damage to the foliage. This is frustrating for the gardener who invested valuable time and money in the hopes of a bountiful harvest for jams, jellies and pies. There are a few ways to deter this pest and save precious blueberries.
The Review newspaper states that an adult wandering deer eats 8 to 10 lbs. of vegetables and fruit every day, causing homeowners annual damages worth millions of dollars. Along with blueberries, deer also eat backyard cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, summer squash, beans and chard.
Plant garlic bulbs around the blueberry patch to deter scavenging deer, or spray a deterrent that contains large quantities of garlic on and around plants. A homemade repellent comprised of 20 percent raw eggs and 80 percent water is also effective in deterring deer due to its offensive odor. Spray the solution directly over the blueberry plants. Sprinkle coyote urine around the garden bed to deter pests like deer. Coyote and deer are natural enemies and deer automatically resist areas they think the animal has frequented. For best results apply repellent when there is no sign of rain for a day, and the temperature is between 40 and 80 degrees F.
Install a fence around the blueberry patch to prevent access to deer. According to the University of Vermont Extension, keep it at least 8-feet high to prevent deer from jumping over the top, and sturdy enough to prevent holes in between. Make sure the base of the fence touches the ground, as deer prefer to crawl under than jump over.
Spread mesh netting over individual blueberry bushes to prevent deer from eating the fruit. Make sure the netting is taut and does not touch the leaves.
Install outdoor sound devices to scare deer away. High-pitched sound machines undetected by humans are effective in deterring deer, thus preventing damage to blueberry bushes. Record and play sounds of barking dogs, turn on the radio, or install shiny objects such as pinwheels and pie plates, or a motion-activated lawn sprinkler system. Keep in mind that these scare tactics are best suited for use over short periods, as deer soon become habituated to them and lose their fear. Vary tactics each time to alarm deer.
Prevent deer visits to your backyard by growing plants along blueberry bushes that they detest, such as sage, dill, oregano, rosemary or peppers. Although damage might still occur because these pests are selective feeders, the extent will be minimal.