Deer Deterrence Tips
Perhaps SOME are lucky enough to have an 8 foot fence all round their property. That is deer prevention. For the rest of us, some sort of deterrence is in order. Nothing is foolproof, but here are a few tips to help you fight the good fight.
You can try planting those plants that have a reputation of being poisonous or unappealing to deer. There are many lists available, but deer will browse most plants at some point or other especially hungry deer early in the season and those cantankerous ones that just want to thumb their noses at you (no mean task when you come equipped with hooves). And maybe you LIKE hostas and other deer candy. The sneaky deer in my neighborhood were quite capable of ignoring the daylily foliage and then nimbly snipping off the flowers. How many of us grow daylilies for their foliage? I have also had deer blithely eat rose bushes with thorns so long and numerous as to make Morticia Addams swoon. Obviously these are formidable enemy.
Deer are creatures of habit. It is best if you start off early in the season convincing them that your neighbors offerings are much more appealing than yours. The first thing to do is provide some sort of smell/taste disincentive. Perhaps others will weigh in with recommendations for other brands of deer spray/deterrents, but I really liked Bobbex. (Newtown, CT company!) It is an all-natural product that doesnÂt wash off in the rain like some (most) of the others and has the added advantage of being a foliar feeder and anti-desiccant. You can buy it in premixed spray bottles, but save money over the long haul and get the concentrate. They also make a small critter spray called Bobbex-R That might be worth a try too.
After that endorsement I feel a little goofy admitting that for the past couple of years I have been making my own deer spray (I need LOTS). I have had good results as long as I remember to spray consistently and after it rains. Here is the recipe:
Homemade Deer Spray
1 gallon of water
1 cup of milk (but I have seen recipes that call for Â½ cup)
1 Tsp vegetable oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 Tsp dish soap
I have a giant container of chili powder from Costco that is getting old that I am going to try adding to the mix this year. I will let you know how it works for me. In other words, feel free to get creative
DIRECTIONS: Put the milk, egg, oil and garlic in a blender and really blend well pour through cheesecloth or a fine-screened strainer into a 1 gallon sprayer or a gallon milk jug and add the water. If you donÂt blend well or strain the mix you run the risk of egg blobs or garlic bits clogging your sprayer. Then you will have to chase the deer away with your #@%$&ing!!!. Add the dish soap (try to use an organic or at least an uncomplicated soap like the original ivory Â do they still make that?) and SWIRL rather than shake to mix Mr. Bond. You donÂt want lots of suds. If you have a small sprayer or donÂt need the whole gallon use a milk jug to mix. Then you can stick the well-labeled remainder in the fridge for a week or two. (Ewww, Mom, this milk tastes BAD!) Try not to spray at high noon in full sun Â cloudy days are ideal.
Whichever way you go, I strongly urge you to get a 1 or 2 gallon pump sprayer. They are relatively inexpensive and will stop your cramped-up hands from looking like Fred SanfordÂs when he was trying to get out of work. (Ooops Â aging myself!) I got my 1-gallon for $16. You can find them for less.
You want to start off early in the season as soon as new growth starts and reapply as new growth appears. Continue throughout the season every few of weeks or so Â especially after rain (or as directed on commercial spray). Some will need to spray and or wrap in the winter also. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on that front.
The second method of deterrence, and in my view, the most important: to develop a reputation. Remember as a kid the yard you never wanted your ball to go into because the person who lived there was crazy? Yea, you want to be that person. The best way is by shouting and flailing your arms at the deer as they munch away on your MotherÂs Day present. YouÂll have to try hard to convince them because deer are by their natureÂs cynical creatures. At first they will stare at you like, "You are kidding, right?" Sometimes wearing imaginative costumes such as a bathrobe and slippers or carrying props such as your morning coffee that you must try very hard not to slosh as you run in the afore mentioned bedroom slippers is an effective strategy. Soon the deer will only look sideways at your property and warn away their friends. This reputation can also work to keep problem neighbors from getting in your face and you will certainly find far less balls in your flowerbeds (and have to pass out less Halloween candy).
If you want to have a vegetable garden, you will probably want to fence it. Deer can leap like the dickens, so the recommendations that deer fence should be 8 feet tall is not exaggerated. Mine was 6 feet tall. You take your chances where you may. You could have taller posts and use a wire strung along the top to reduce the fencing cost. Lots of punji sticks in the form of tomato stakes could help. As long as you are making the effort to fence your garden, make it easy on yourself and deter the smaller critters at the same time by putting a smaller screened (think chipmunk) wire mesh at the bottom of your fence that is bent out along the ground in an "L" to prevent burrowing (think woodchucks and wascally wabbits). If you grow raccoon chow you will almost certainly need an electrical fence wire.
I saw the strangest thing the other day. There was a single deer in my yard and I called the kids to see it before I started to "enhance my reputation". Just as they arrived at the window, a big crow swooped down and chased that deer away! I knew I liked crows!
So, if you donÂt have your own trained attack crows for hire, good luck with those deer. On a final note: awww, arenÂt they cuuute??? :-P