Deer Control - Success?

petet(z7a VA)May 4, 2011

After years of increasing frustration with the growing deer problem in Fairfax County (yes, it's definitely gotten even worse in the last 5 years!) I am cautiously optimistic that I am turning the tide and showing some success against the beasts. So I thought I would share.

My property backs up to wooded parkland that is full of deer. The problem of them eating my plants was always bad, but around 2008-2010, it got so bad that they were even eating "deerproof" plants that they had never touched before, such as irises, ferns, Japanese maples, rhododendrons, brunerra, etc. They were even eating petunias right out of the hanging planters on my deck! Nothing was safe anymore, and I was getting really angry and frustrated.

I read on GW about a year ago where somebody had success with a spraying regimen, so I thought I would give it a try. The results so far have been miraculous. The deer are so habit-prone that once they decide something doesn't taste good, they actually steer clear of it. I am using a product called Liquid Fence, which is an expensive organic mixture that smells horrible, but only when it's being applied. Once it dries on the plants, only the deer can smell it, and it actually works to keep them away, at least for a while. But the key is to stay vigilant, because even one good night of browsing can do unbelievable damage.

I am told that other products would probably work too, and the secret is really to stick to a consistent schedule of re-application. So, every couple of weeks I hold my nose and walk around the garden, spraying a half-gallon or so of the stuff on the plants (particularly their favorites). When things aren't growing as fast as they are in the spring, I back off to around once a month.

Yeah, it's a pain, but as much time as I spend in my garden it's worth spending 30 minutes every couple of weeks to spray. I've been doing this a year now and I am seeing actual hostas in full leaf and blooms on azaleas that I have not seen in at least five years. It's amazing how lush and full the garden looks in May now without the extra "pruning" from the critters.

I won't claim total victory yet, but I can say that this regimen helps my problem A LOT and makes me a much happier gardener.

Just thought I'd share...

-- Pete

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Hi Pete,

Thanks for sharing your success story. I hope it continues to work for you. I have used Liquid Fence with some success as well.

Another product I like that is even easier to apply is Milorganite fertilizer. It comes in granular form in large bags and is made from sewage sludge. I scoop cupfuls out of a bucket and fling it toward the plants I want to protect. I don't use it near the vegetable or herb garden despite claims by the company that it is safe.

My problem is keeping up with these tasks. I'm better about keeping up with the Milorganite because it is cheap and easy.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:22PM
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I make a spray that works well but like the others needs constant reapplication. It's certainly cheaper then buying it but I just can't seem to keep up with weekly spraying, more when it rains. If interested this is the recipe:

Take 1/4 c vegetable oil, 1 whole egg and a small head of garlic. Crush the garlic cloves, crack the egg and put in a jug with the oil (I use a 1/2 gal container) and fill with water. Shake it up and allow the mixture to sit out in the sun for a week then use as a foliar spray (shake it up before spraying). I just keep adding more ingredients to what's left and leave it outside. It stinks to high heaven. You'll notice the smell on the plants for a couple hours but as long as it doesn't rain it keeps the deer away for about 5-7 days.

I just can't bring myself to use Milorganite. I have friends that use it and swear by it but the thought of human waste just grosses me out too much.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:48AM
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petet(z7a VA)

Good info, thanks. I've used Milorganite on my grass for years, but never thought of using it as deer repellent. It does have a bit of odor, particularly when wet, that might be what sends the deer elsewhere. Whatever works. At least until I move or put up an 8' deer fence, I think this is my lot in life...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:39AM
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