So, so upset. Deer devastation.

sue36(Z5 Maine)June 10, 2011

Before I left this morning I noticed some deer damage to my shade garden. This garden is right up against my porch on the north side of my house. There are (or were) hosta in there that had been growing undivided for 4 years. They were huge and beautiful. I was out there again this afternoon and most of the hosta are gone. I mean, totally gone except for 4" of stem. I honestly feel sick. It is only June and the garden is ruined for the summer. I know the hosta will come back, but not this year. This was my one garden that was tour-worthy.

Aside from a few virtual hugs, I need some ideas on deterring them from the remaining hostas. And I need ideas on what to do about the garden. Take the hosta out and pot them, filling in the empty areas with annuals, replanting the hosta in the fall? Plant annuals to fill in the empty spaces (there are a LOT of empty spaces, these were HUGE hostas) and leave the stubs?

I know they are just plants, and there are worse things in life, but I having a little pity party right now.

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I feel your pain. Have been there and sorry to say, worse, as they were many shrubs that won't come back.

There is hope! Right this minute, go buy Liquid Fence and spray your whole garden. Then do it again in one week. Then about every six or eight weeks.

The deer have found you and they may well be back tonight. That's what they do.

Once I found Liquid Fence, it has worked extremely well. I also spray in the fall and winter every few months. It really does last a long time. There may be other brands just as good but this has worked for me for several years and I have fifteen deer passing thru my garden at dawn and dusk--and night.

You have my sympathy for losing a season of your hostas but they will come back fine next year. Spray the remaining stems with Liquid Fence as per the directions above. Then I would plant the empty spaces with impatiens and water and fertilize and mulch. This care will benefit the hosta roots. Deer eat impatiens too so spray them as well.

Don't dig the hostas up--they have had enough stress. You can win this fight but it does take time and money. Act fast before the deer make your garden their permanent dinner table. Sorry to be so long.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 5:16PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The hosta *will* be back. Much sooner than you think. We've had hosta eaten to the ground several times a year because they grow back, and the deer return.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 5:59PM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

Thanks so much. I'll pick up some Liquid Fence tomorrow. I'm leaving the porch lights on tonight...hopefully it will deter them. I might put a radio out there on low overnight as well. I don't think that would work long-term, but since it will be new it might work for one night.

Last year we have 2 doe and 5 fawns (one had twins, the other triplets) frequently in our yard last year and they did little damage. This year there is just one doe and fawn. She is obviously not as afraid as the others (we know it is a different one because this doe has a distinctive scar on her). I was watering the other day and she was within 15 feet of me and didn't run.

I don't think it helps that all our neighbors have dogs and invisible out yard is a safe haven (as well as a salad bar).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:10PM
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Things like the radio and lights will work for a short time--did that myself--so hope they work for you tonight.

Friends with dogs do not report them effective.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:37PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

A thread from a couple of years ago gave all sorts of methods of deer deterrence and this was compiled into an FAQ How do I keep deer and moose from eating up my garden?.

I just took a look at this FAQ and one of the iVillage reorganizations has changed the format so it reads a little weird, but you might be able to get some ideas here. I'll clean it up later.

I was just admiring my hostas today and I can just imagine how I'd feel if they were eaten! You have my heartfelt sympathy.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 8:54PM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)


The Bruins game had just started, DH and I were eating dinner, and I looked out and she was eating again! I scared her away. The outside lights are on and I opened the windows so the TV can be heard outside. I'm going to put the radio out before I got to bed.

I've always enjoyed the deer that frequent the yard. We have almost 4 acres and they have only rarely nibbled. I really like watching them, but they are worn out their welcome.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:09PM
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terrene(5b MA)

The deer pass through my yard regularly and nibble here and there somewhat randomly it seems, but generally don't eat much. Occasionally they eat a choice plant and I get irritated. Also I've heard that young deer will sample odd things just to see what they taste like. I don't generally mind if they nibble on a plant that does well when it's pinched anyway, like Aster or Phlox.

The deer used to love one of my Hostas - Royal Standard. I think Hosta is like a gourmet salad for them! They would eat all the foliage, but it would still flower (lovely fragrant white flowers) and looked very weird with flowers and sticks. I bought a similar product called Deer Out and it worked well and broke them of the habit of eating that hosta, which they haven't touched for the past few years. It doesn't wash off in rain and only has to be reapplied every 90-120 days.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:42PM
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We bought a phantom wildlife deterrent a few years back. And have had pretty good luck with it. I really bought it to deter the coyotes - after a coyote walked thru my backyard in broad day light - between me sitting in a lawn chair and my 2 year old playing in her sandbox about 20 feet away.

The phantom deters coyote, deer and bears. We've had pretty good luck with it. Though I do have to replace the batteries every 2 months in winter. If the batteries die, I end up with deer in my yard within a week and coyotes within a month. (So those of you who follow the mobile features thread - you will now know when it is time for me to replace batteries). And recently there were a lot of bear sightings in town, some less than 1/4 mile from my house - but we never saw a bear in our yard - not sure if the phantom worked, or if we just were not on the travel route!

Overall I feel like I should live in harmony with nature and wildlife. However, with the dangers posed by coyote and deer, I'm happy that I've found a non-invasive, harmless way to deter the wildlife from my backyard.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 9:25AM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

I Googled Phantom Wildlife Deterrent and found it. I don't think that would work for me because they eat in broad daylight (most of yesterday's damage was between 9 and 3). From their website: "They automatically turn on in the evening and off in the morning."

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 10:06AM
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From my understanding, the deer/coyote/bear hear the noises at night, but cannot see the "cougar", so they change their habits and do not come in the daylight. The literature even tells you - if you see the animals during the day, your gut reaction is to run and get your phantom and start playing the noises. But that just teaches the deer that it is you making the noise, and not a cougar. And thus the phantom won't work.

I had only seen the coyotes and deer during the day before, but don't see them anymore since using the phantom. And the animal damage at night is minimal.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 10:39AM
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I think I have an easier problem right now, at least far as gardening is concerned. Our area is having a "hungry" (more accurately a lazy) bear problem. This week he invaded the bird feeders of our neighbor across the street, cleaned out the birdseed and bent the iron support poles all the way to the ground. I'm concerned because the birdfeeders were 5 feet from the house, but at least he doesn't eat from the garden! He seems to make nocturnal visits, thankfully. As long as he stays away from the kids...

(And it would be nice if he left the chickens alone, too.)

We don't have deer problem mainly (I think) because the bountiful woods around us keep them well-fed enough that they don't need to venture near houses. (Hence the hungry bear is really a lazy bear.) Would feeding deer in an area away from the garden help, or would it result in hundreds of deer coming over for a meal?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 9:36PM
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This is so awful. I too would be so very upset if my hostas were eaten as yours were. And I have small, newly planted hostas. Can't imagine how painful it would be to find huge, well-established plants devastated. I hope you find a way of discouraging this doe. She's much too comfortable near your house.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:43AM
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