Keeping deer away from your hosta???

Cricket_Love(4b)June 24, 2012

We are looking at possibly buying a home on the edge of our little town with a country setting. The neighbor up the hill warned me that the deer are going to have a feast on all my hosta. We stayed out there well into the morning hours, and sure enough, the deer come right through there and go up to her place, and munch on her gardens. She has tried sprays of all kinds, home remedies, etc. I suggested putting a radio out in the gardens. She said that wouldn't bother them in the least. There HAS to be a sure fire way of keeping them out. Looking at the tour links that Steve posted today proves that. So, what IS the secret? Am I going to have to sleep in my hosta "beds"? ;)

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Dogs that can roam your property.. tall fencing...sage or blue salvia seems to work to keep them outta my yard... they hate anything from the sage family... common sage works best

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:33PM
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I have heard Irish Spring soap, grated, mixed with water and sprayed on the Hosta. Makes sense to me. Who ever liked eating soap ?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:34PM
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I'm in the country with woods all around. Last year it got so bad I covered my plants with plastic garden fencing. This year I tried the milorganite fertilizer and that seemed to work. Then my daughter got me a product called deer scram and I haven't had damage yet. Good luck they can eat alot.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Here, a 4 wire electric fence does the job, mostly.

It helps to 'train' them by placing strips of peanut butter covered tin foil at intervals in early spring. Evil, but effective.

There are at least 50 deer that travel through our 'other' yard each morning and evening, but they don't come into the electrified yard, by and large.

hth and fwiw,


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:51PM
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I don't have an issue because they don't seem to want to hop our fence, but I was just talking to someone who swears by a product called Deer Out.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

My sister uses one of these Motion Activated Scarecrows to keep the deer away from her garden (we use large dogs). It has worked wonders for her. No fence, no spraying you just have to keep it attached to the hose (and to remember to shut it off when you want to go in the garden).


Here is a link that might be useful: Motion activated sprinker

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Thanks for all the great and quick responses!!!! Steve - I LIKE that scarecrow! I really appreciate all the help!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:50PM
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HH - After sitting here thinking about what you said, my first thought was "Awe, poor deer!!!". THEN, I busted out laughing! It IS have to admit it. Even if it IS evil! LOL
I bet they'd only do it once! :)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:55PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

I live in the country and deer are abundant. I have found that if I spray my hosta (and other perennials) as soon as they start emerging with Invisible Fence, and repeat spray after rain or every week for about a month ... that is all it takes. I do not need to continue all summer.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:00PM
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love the tin foil and peanut butter lol

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:26PM
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I love the Scare crow sprinkler, motion activated. I don't have deer but I have a lot of door to door salesmen.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:34PM
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HaHa Moccasinlanding! That's great!!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:03AM
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when I had my farm I didn't grow hosta but I grew lots of edibles, both the kind growing in the ground and the kind growing on the hoof. I used the Irish Spring tip and it worked for me. Put a bar of Irish Spring in a 5 gallon bucket filled with water. Let it sit for a day or two, stir once or twice. Put it in your sprayer of choice and spray any plant you don't want eaten. Worked like a charm for me. Only downside was I had to repeat after every rain.

I had 6 wire hot fence, only thing it kept in was the horses. Deer just jumped it.

Whatever you do just don't feed the deer intentionally or you will never get rid of them.

Enjoy your new homestead. Nothing more relaxing than country living.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:20AM
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weekendweeder(5A NY)

This is barely tangentially related, but Cricket Love, I want to know if you plan on moving your hosta garden a la Ken. If you do, keep us posted! (Also, if you don't, maybe you could do a post about how you will go about building a different hosta collection--choices you would readily make again and ones you would strike off your list, etc.) Pretty please?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:30AM
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Weekend, what a great idea for a new post. Something along the lines of..."if you had to start new". I know are there are some I would not plant again. :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:03AM
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My deer repellent. His name's Otto. The shot was taken just after I started my hosta garden in 2006. You can see that I'm out in the country; 1/2 mile to the nearest neighbor. Abundance of deer in the woods; none in my gardens.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:45AM
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chris-e(7 MD)

Love Otto!

We are fenced but as everyone knows, that doesn't stop dear. The first year we planted, they ate everything! But we do have a dog and I think that once the dog pees all over the yard, the deer get the message and stay out.

We just enjoy watching them all stroll past our yard in the field which we back up to.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:29PM
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LOVE Otto!!!!! Weekendweeder - I will be moving all of my hosta. Honestly, I think I would die of a broken heart if I had to leave them behind! Haha! With moving from a very tiny lot to a small acreage, I will be, however, making MANY new beds!!! So, in a sense, it will be like starting over! Great question! I will photo journal the move and share on here!

Thanks for all the great advice, humorous comments, and genuine interest everyone! You all are my "secret garden" at the end of the stressful day! Thank you! :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:58AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I moved my Hostas and other plants from my old property to the new house. Well I got such a surprise....

They ate every hosta and every Daylily in one night. Can you imagine having a full garden and going out the next morning and seeing only stems sticking out of the ground. They even ate the Daffs the first year I moved in.

The property was empty for a few years so it had become their restaurant. I live on 4 acres but not isolated. This is a suburban neighborhood but all the house have large lots.

The property does have a 8' fence but that means nothing to them. I have seen them jump that. I get herds of deer. I have been working on this for 3 years.

I purchased...
Wolf urine that I put in a spray bottle and Spray that occasionally on grocery store plastic bags and hung them on the fence where I see they may have been by the poop evidence.

I put some of the Sweeney's Deer Repellent gadgets. They are covered containers that you put on a stem. That is suppose to trigger flight response to the deer. I suspect it is a wolf urine concoction. Home Depot purchase.

Homemade spray. Onion, Garlic, hot sauce, wolf urine, egg, mixture.

Biondi Deer off work for my deer. I tried every one on the market. Every area deer are different. I do think you have to try them all to see which one your deer do not like.

Nite Guard system. It is a flashing red solar light to fool the deer that they think danger. Of course near that area I spray the wolf urine. So it is a site and smell fix I am using.

I have herds of deer not an occasional walk through deer problem. When I see deer it is 10 or more. I have had as much as 20-50 deer in the front yard at one time.

I have also sprinkle Millorganite 3 times a year.

Finally, there path I have picked up pallets from the grocery store for free. They have trouble walking on these because their feet go through the slat space and fall down.

As you can see I have done everything short of a gun. So far for one growing season only one hosta has been eaten I have 100s. So I am not sure if that was deer, rabbit, groundhog, etc. since it was only one hosta.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I have heard that deer do not like to deal with two fences. You might want to try the electric wire fence with peanut butter outside your 8 foot hurdle. I'm guessing they won't like that. Here are some more ideas including a 7 wire slanted electric fence!


Here is a link that might be useful: Click on the Cornell U. link

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Bamboo stakes work pretty well to keep the deer from grazing.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:10PM
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But they don't work worth a darn against groundhogs. I have had to resort to putting my new babies in jail, at least until the Repellex kicks in. Blood meal does work somewhat, but the stakes that hold a blood meal cup never had a chance. The raccoons stole them.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:17PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Thank you steve that is a good site. Because I have all the other animal problems.

Sandy that is interesting. I will add that to my defense package. I will try anything.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Deer will not jump a 5 or 6 foot fence they cannot see through, so I suggest you solidify your fence - a long-term solution could be using dense, fast-growing, tall shrubbery, literally making a living fence. If they can't see their landing site, they move to a spot where they can see what's on the other side. Of course, we all have breaks in our fence - called a driveway - so there could always be a way into our yards. We plan our garden so that the garden area is behind dense living fence walls and inside that is our garden "oasis".

Trust me, this works. I live in the country - we have 60 acres and with it a lot of variety of wildlife. We are surrounded by grain, livestock, and hay fields. In my garden spot, I have a line of dense caraghana on the east because that stuff survives everything. On the south, I have a row of some other dense shrub (have no clue what it is - it sports small pink flowers which the bees are gaga for, and black berries in the fall), a stiff 8-foot windblock fence on the north since the north wind is vicious in the winter, and the house on the west side. Deer don't seem to like our garden because they're essentially trapped. So, my apple tree, roses and other plants stay fairly well protected.

In the more urban areas you could plan your "living fence" so that it meets the local criteria if you have height restrictions, but I doubt you'd have a problem with 6 feet. Of course, while this type of fencing grows, you'd have a deer problem in the meantime, but I was thinking this could be a long-term relatively low-maintenance solution.

I like the water sprinkler idea. Animals don't like to get involuntarily wet, especially from a sudden spray. It's very effective behavior modification.

We use a similar idea for a horse who is a stall kicker. Every time she hits the wall with her back feet, she gets nailed with a jet of water from 3 of the walls on the stall. It's very effective and only takes a couple days to stop the behavior. She tests the system periodically to see if it's still working (which it is since it is a permanent fixture in her stall).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:23PM
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I have been using this product - Shot Gun Deer Repellent by Bonide -
for 3 years now. We back up to corp of engineer property and the deer around here are rampant. I spray once a month (smells horrible for a day or so). It's the only thing I've found that works.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I have been using this product - Shot Gun Deer Repellent by Bonide -
for 3 years now. We back up to corp of engineer property and the deer around here are rampant. I spray once a month (smells horrible for a day or so). It's the only thing I've found that works.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:11PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

I find that deer will adapt to any single deterrent, given enough time. I rotate deterrents with some overlap - blood meal, Milorganite, and "Liquid Fence" (mixed with some DMSO). It seems to work well despite heavy deer presence in the area.

I'm experimenting with the new granular Liquid Fence - so far so good, but it's too early to be sure.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:42PM
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So many great ideas!

Marquest - I would have been devastated! In tears, on my knees devastated! I'm one of those weirdos who gets on my 3 year old for smashing ants, but I think I would have seriously thought about purchasing a gun! LOL
Did all of your plants survive?

As for deer not jumping solid structures, the neighbors up the hill have a 6' privacy fence and the deer have no problems leaping over it. Maybe they remembered what was on the other side prior to the fence being put up? She's about ready to rip out all her gardens and just reseed with grass :(

We are waiting to hear back about our offer, so PLEASE keep your fingers crossed! I want this house SO bad!!! Maybe if I plant the deer their own special garden, they'll leave mine alone? LOL What do you think of me putting a radio out in the garden at night, along with a motion activated light pointed towards the gardens? Would this even begin to deter the deer? We also found that there are groundhogs living under the deck there. Will they eat my hosta? And raccoon - they don't eat plants...right?

Again, thank you all SO much for all your input! I sincerely appreciate it!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 4:58AM
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Groundhogs will eat your hostas. And your astlbes, your heucheras and all your veggies. As bad as deer. Trap them out if you can.

Raccoons won't eat your hostas, but they will raid your trash and eat your koi, and dig up your plants, collateral damage looking for worms and grubs. They will also move into your attic if they can. And steal your tomatoes and your corn.

Possums are harmless, if you see them.

Good luck, it's a tough battle but you can win.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:59AM
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If you plant them their own special garden, they will not only love it but they will then venture into to your other gardens to see what other goodies you have. I had a neighbor on adjoining acreage feed the deer. Made me so mad. Once they finished at her place they then came to mine. Always had a deer problem, but once she started feeding them it got much worse.

You might have to trial and error to see what works best for you.

Here's keeping my fingers crossed for you. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 8:00AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Cricket Love, believe me once it sunk in, I was happy my yard is so private. I probably would be in jail or mental hospital if the neighbors had seen me. I was devastated, crying, swearing, stomping you name it I was doing it. LOL

I will wish you luck but be prepared. It is a fight, you have to be committed. They can wear you down. It hurts to look at your gardens all pretty and come out and it is all gone in one night.

They survived they came back this year so I have been out with all my sprays and anything that I can do to have my gardens.

Solid fence does not work have that on one side, Believe me they will jump. I have sat in my morning room and watched them flying over the fence right into the middle of my hosta bed.

mosswitch is right groundhogs will eat your hostas. So I have double trouble. I constantly have had them eat a garden and I find the hole stuff it with used kitty litter top it off with a three bags of dog poop. I have a Mastiff so it is big poop. That keeps them out for about a month.

I did not have the heart to take a pic of the entire garden but I took a picture of my Sum and Substance before and after. Just a sample to give you a visual of what to expect. Do you think you can take this? LOL

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Black pepper sprinkled liberally on and around your plants helps some against groundhogs. They don't like that. I buy it by the pound at Sam's Club, lol! But miss just one plant and they will find it! You do have to reapply it after a rain, that is presuming you ever get rain.

Someone told me a couple of days ago that if you hang CDs in your garden it helps scare the deer away when they flash in the breeze. Think I'll try that.

Something is still grazing in the end of the woods, ate most of the impatiens. So I was out there sitting on my bench by the little pond for four mornings in a row at 4 am, and alI I saw was my slug patrol (the dozen or so box turtles that roam the woods) and one young possum come to drink at the pond. I need a game camera.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Just got an e-newsletter from a nursery in central OH. Their website has (additional) suggestions to repel deer:

Here is a link that might be useful: Oh, Deer!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:58PM
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I've had good luck using deer netting around stuff I want protected. Don't know how good it would work w/ critters like groundhogs but the deer don't mess with anything that's protected with it.

I roll it up & store it over the winter & reuse the next summer. Haven't had to buy any from the store as I've found it a rummage sales & have enough to last thru the next decade, at least.

I live at the end of town w/ school forest behind me. Deer pass through every day but, thankfully, I don't have herds of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Deer Netting

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Mrquest - THAT would completely break my heart!!!! I'm a night owl, so I think my plan of action is to sit out there for a few nights and see what goes on and who comes and goes.
I'm so sorry for your heartache. :(

Mosswitch - Thanks for the black pepper idea! I did find 2 places that they are coming in and out of under the deck on the property. And the CD's is brilliant!

Ronnie - thanks for the link!

ci_lantro - I''m going to look into the netting. Better to be safe than sorry!!!!

Alexis - I kind of figured as much. A lettuce garden will only last for so long before they eat it to the ground and move on. Plus, hosta seem to be their favorite anyway, so they'd probably step right over anything plants "for them".

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:37PM
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