There’s no arguing that deer are beautiful and graceful creatures. But the sight of Bambi snacking on a favorite shrub is enough to stab the heart of even the most devout animal lover with at least a quick jolt of murderous rage. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can easily dissuade deer from eating your shrubbery by adorning the plants with stuff they don’t like.
Chop 8 fresh habanero peppers finely in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of water and 2 tbsp. ground cayenne pepper and liquefy the mixture.
Stir in a quarter cup of Ivory dish detergent. Blend it in using your lowest setting so that the mixture doesn’t bubble much. This is a very important ingredient because it will greatly improve the ability of the liquid to stick to the leaves of your shrubs. Strain it through a coffee filter, reserving the liquid repellent. Discard the coffee filter full of solids.
Pour the mixture into a repurposed plastic spray bottle. Apply generously to the foliage of affected shrubs, and any other plants that might be potentially attractive alternatives for the deer. Spray a 1-foot band on the ground around the plant’s perimeter to boost the potency of the odor. Repeat the application in a few days as needed, or after it rains. Refrigerate the pepper spray for up to two weeks.
Drop in on your barber or hair stylist and ask for permission to gather up some of the hair clippings that are sure to be laying around the shop.
Cut an old cotton sheet into 5-inch squares. Pour about 4 tbsp. of human hair clippings and 1 tbsp. of blood meal onto the centers of the squares. Deer are instinctively frightened by the smell of humans and of blood. Gather the corners up to form little packets, and tie them shut with a piece of string or a rubber band.
Tie a few packets to the limbs of affected shrubs. Spread a 1-foot band of hair clippings around the perimeter of each plant, and sprinkle a little blood meal on top of that, if you wish. Replace the packets and the perimeter bands every one to two weeks, or if rain washes the blood meal away.
Provide the deer with tasty alternative food sources if you want them to keep them coming around, even though they’ll shun your shrubs. You can buy feeder corn very inexpensively in 25- or 50-pound bags. If you live in an area where apples are grown, the farmer or local retailers will gladly sell you bushels of cheap seconds offered just for that purpose. Fill a couple of 5-gallon buckets with corn, place them well away from your beloved shrubs, and scatter apples around on the ground. The deer will be delighted with the booby prizes, and won’t mind being deprived of the shrubbery so much.