I quit.

bluebars(7 MD)June 20, 2008

When our home was new almost 10 years ago, we totally amended the clay soil for gardens all around the house for the first 2 years (backbreaking work, but necessary for nice gardens, right?) Then we gradually added perennials; shasta daisies, coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and iris, and divided them out over the years. The iris are finished now. But this year, for the first time, the hydrangeas are literally covered in blooms, just beginning to turn from green to blue. The daisies, coneflowers, and susans all have buds beginning to burst. A delirious purple clematis (a gift) blooms dinnerplate size as it winds up the lamppost.

That was yesterday.

Today, all the buds (except one single daisy) in the entire garden are gone, nothing but stems. There will be no black-eyed-susans or coneflower seeds for the goldfinches to enjoy this year. The only hydrangea flowers left are the ones in the back of the bush facing the wall. The fencing is knocked down and the iris leaves are trampled and broken. Clematis vines in the front yard are hanging off broken and completely stripped of flowers and leaves. Even the dogwood tree has been stripped of leaves up to eye level (now looks like a topiary). Vandals? Misdirected mowing contractors? Hailstorm? Caterpillars? No.

Even with every deer deterrent the consumer can buy; garlic sticks, minty soap, coyote urine, human hair (even pee), buzzers, sprinklers, and barking dogs, the deer always nibbled a few things; I could live with that. But the overnight utter destruction is just too much. I can't take it anymore.

Anybody want a garden? How about a whole house? I quit.

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scausey(z6/7 MD)

How utterly devastating! My heart goes out to you! Don't quit forever - things will come back. Does sound like a period of mourning is in order, though. Peace be with you.
P.S. I know a guy with a cross-bow who does depradation....

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 1:52PM
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And I thought I had a huge problem with the bunnies eating my mailbox petunias....

Your situation is beyond sucky. I would have thrown in the towel as well.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 2:36PM
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I would be heartbroken - and calling fence companies.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 4:44PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I'm so sorry. You must be devastated.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 8:16AM
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bluebars(7 MD)

Thanks for the support. We are in a community that only allows a fence from the house back wall (which we do have), but not sides and front. I have a few plants inside the fence that we can still enjoy, so I guess all is not lost (unless they jump in, which they can). And of course, no hunting allowed. What a shame, 'cause I am a trained sharpshooter.
Today I was able to cut some hydrangea flowers way up high that the deer could not reach (yet), and bring them indoors. Because sure enough, they have been back again. Now the perennials are mowed almost to the ground.
Next house, it's venison for dinner at least once a week!
I've considered moving more plants to the back, inside the fence, but that might just tempt the deer enough to learn to jump the fence; not worth it.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 10:34AM
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The deer population has certainly skyrocketed during the past 10 years. I live between two heavily forested parks. It's a deer crossing zone to be sure!

You can probably save the hydrangeas with a combination of netting and spraying deer repellent. My neighbors swear by a hot pepper concoction. As for everything else in your yard, you'll want to move to different flowers. In part sun, try foxgloves and monkshood. In full sun, any flower with a smell to it will do. Agastache is very nice. The bees love it. Joe Pye Weed attracts butterflies. Grow lots of lambs ear (stachys). It's inexpensive, it spreads nicely and it flowers in full sun. If you need big and dramatic shrubs, look to the vibernum family.

At any rate, unless you decide to move, you're stuck with starting over. And wouldn't you be tinkering anyway after ten years? I know I am!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Bluebars--get thee to a free neighborhood! ;)
I am thankful beyond belief that I don't have a problem with deer. I've got many of the plants that you lost, but they're fine. Perhaps it's because I've always had two dogs and their scent carries even when they're indoors. Maybe it's the major state highway on one side of my property. I don't know and I don't care.
Rats with antlers.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 7:18PM
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Think of the people injured in car accidents or killed when hitting a deer.

Try a fence. Solid 6 foot or a double fence.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 5:45PM
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gflynn(z7 MD)

I wonder if you just pegged them with a b-b-gun a few times (its not hunting) that would make them find greener pastures?


    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 10:53PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

Well Greg, I certainly could, but if I have to sit out there all night with the mosquitos waiting for them, we're having venison. Anyway, I'm sure they have moved on to someone else's garden by now.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 12:42PM
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gflynn(z7 MD)


The Deer topped some of my tomatoes last night. They did it last year but I figured it was a drought fluke. Then I used deer netting. I will put it back on tonight. You may want to consider it. It works and is hard to see so your flowers will not be diminished.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 1:46PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

Careful! Some of my neighbors have used netting. One morning they found all their shrubs crushed. Not eaten, just crushed. What the deer cannot eat, they will destroy some other way. They hate marigolds. So one year, I planted marigolds, about a hundred of them. Each one was plucked out by the roots, and left to die. Not eaten, just plucked out and tossed around. I think there was one little lonesome marigold that survived.
I'm not making this stuff up! We even tried barberry bushes with big stickers. The deer stepped on them and broke them all up. I have watched them eat barberry. I don't know how they get around those stickers!
Daffodils are my only salvation. Daffodils are the only thing I have that is really successful. They do bite off a few buds, but so far (fingers and toes crossed) we still have lots of daffodils in the spring.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 1:57PM
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gflynn(z7 MD)


Thats and interesting story. I don't doubt it. My good fortune is that my tomatoes are in cages (5 feet tall, 3 feet wide) and the net is held up by the cages. This means that the deer can't crush them.

I suppose your flowers wouldn't have that advantage. You could make some kind of structure to support the netting but this is going pretty far I suppose.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:27AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I knew deer could be destructive, but I had no idea they would destroy plants just for the heck of it!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:28PM
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gflynn(z7 MD)


I'll bet they were trying to eat the stuff behind the net and just get pushing on it. I can't figure the pulling up flowers part however.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 10:02AM
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bluebars(7 MD)

The pulling up flowers part, I think, maybe they were tasting them as the were gobbling up everything, and then spit out the plants they don't prefer. The marigolds were not well rooted yet, just market pak plants (hundreds of them). So as they were bitten, they came right out. And like the barberry sticker bushes that got trampled to death, they were in the way as the herd chomped on everything in their path.
P.S. They have been back several nights since my original post, eating the perennials almost down to the ground now, and the hydrangeas are stripped all the way to the stems. Like there is no food for them in the forest! This is the worst year I have ever seen. Bambi Go Home!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 2:55PM
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gardengranma(6a/6b MD)

The deer in my neighborhood stayed out of my garden and on a 3 acre meadow for 13 years. Then they discovered my front yard, the back was fenced in. I was so mad, I built a 6 fooot fence with 3 feet of straight wire 12 inches apart above that. The gates are huge, but I don't care. Now no deer and wonderful growth. It was worth it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 3:20PM
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I think you'll have to move your prized plants (like the hydrangea) to the back, where they are protected.

Then you need to establish the "anti-deer zone." Some deer will eat anything at any time. Sounds like you have these deer.

You might want to try paving some areas around the plants you want to put in the front. I've noticed that the deer tend not to touch the hostas that grow along my stone walkways. A wide stone path around shrubs might be something to try. And the shrubs in the front will have to be nasty to deer (viburnum) just to drive home the point.

They've never touched my lavender and rosemary, stachys/lambs ears, agastache, tirella, heuchura or pulminaria. The stachys and pulminaria are low growing and might form a barrier if you plant a wide enough area. The deer will root and sniff and if the first thing they encounter is nasty, they might wander off elsewhere.

And the only other thing I could suggest would be a sprinkler on a motion sensor--although this is your front yard and some human passerby may get a surprise sprinkle!

If you move the prized plants to the back, definitely get one of those motion sprinklers!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 4:28PM
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southernmdgal(Southern MD 7)

I have experienced the same troubles as you with the deer. My house is at the end of the street next to the woods and the deer look at my yard as the all you can eat place.

Last year when it was so dry they were bold enough to come up on my front porch and munch on my window box blooms and containers. My husband I watched in amazement as 3 deer ate all of the flowers except the marigolds. I have yet to find a plant they dislike besides the mentioned daffodil.

We are trying to grow vegtables this year but have put in containers on our back deck. The deer cannot reach them there. I do feel your pain - I have a bare yard with nothing to show for all the weekends of yard work!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 12:08PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

Motion sprinklers don't work. The deer think it is raining. So what? They get a nice bath.
Forget paving or stones, they climb right over my stone edging, parade right down the driveway, onto the sidewalk, and leave their droppings right on my front steps. They've already trampled and destroyed my little wire fence, which was no deterrent at all. Hmmm, I've another idea. Rolls of chicken wire. They might not like stepping on that. Naaaah, they would just jump over it. What was I thinking?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 10:55AM
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manure_queen(md 7)

I read on another forum that human urine deters groundhogs. My neighbor laughed at me but when she tried it, her groundhog left for greener pastures. Don"t know if it would deter deer or not

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Well, you can't move, can you? Try selling your house with your landscape in this condition!

You said your community does not allow a fence. Have you looked into the specifics of that? Do they prohibit only permanent, hard fence structures? If so, you may be able to protect your yard with a soft fence structure that's almost invisible.

You'll need a 7 1/2 ft high fence. Yes, deer jump that high. You'll need to keep it closed or you'll have to keep your driveway out of your fence. You'll need to be vigilant about closing the gate.

I would also contact County Animal Control about your problem, along with your Councilman. Get your neighbors to do the same--and don't take "We can't do anything" for an answer. They CAN do something. Deer poop and ticks are a serious health problem. And it sounds like your yard is being overrun.

I live near two forests, so there's not a whole lot I can do about my deer. I also have a large yard, so I can accomodate them, although raking up deer poop before the kid's birthday party is a pain!

I also have several foundation plantings (holly, viburnum, magnolia) that the deer don't touch. I fill in with as much deer resistant stuff as I can.

The landscape has changed in Maryland. Development has encroached on areas where the deer used to roam and the foxes used to thin them out. And two years in a row of serious drought have made them desparate and quite tolerant of plants they wouldn't normally eat. I noticed the onslaught about six years ago and have been able to convert my yard in the meantime.

Here is a link that might be useful: McGregor Fence Co.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 4:42PM
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Any updates? Gah, you must be pulling your hair out!
All that time and energy wasted....

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 1:54PM
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bluebars(7 MD)

We have a fence around the backyard, as allowed. Unless the deer jump in, and they could, I grow whatever I can there. So far, I've been lucky, but any morning it could be all gone. Keeping it to a minimum, so as not to be too tempting. Sometimes kids cut through our yard (without permission BTW), and as long as they don't leave the gate open, the gardens inside the fence will be fairly safe from the deer...
Outside the fence, all bets are off. I think I will gradually just take those gardens out. The perennials are so thin and short now, that weeds are taking over faster than I can manage.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Wolves !! thats the answer!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 6:08PM
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