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help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Posted by cocoshim Southern NJ, 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 29, 06 at 16:25

My husband and I have moved to Burlington county 2 years ago, and deers and rabbits are just eating our precious flowers left and right. Despite that, we decided on growing tomatoes this year and they completely destroyed them. We have only planted so called "deer & rabbit repellent plants" and all flowers are literally gone. We have tried every repellent spray, powder, etc. on the market and none of them stopped them. We spent so much time, efforts, and money into our gardening, and it is just devastating. We even tried to put up a portable fense around the tomatoes yesterday (out of rage) and found that deer had again eaten or knocked our green tomatoes this morning. It seems as they are retaliating. We don't understand. My neighbor told me about hanging "Irish spring soap" so I bought them today for a try.... I feel helpless. Isn't there anything we can do to stop? Can we not enjoy growing any flowers?Please, someone help us!!!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Yeah, it's pretty frustrating. I'm in Monmouth County and, my first summer, only planted a few, individually caged tomatoes and the deer got them (and lots of other stuff, including plant that were listed as "deer-resistant" or "deer-proof"- I've come to the conclusion that deer don't read those books).

After some research, I put up a 4 foot wire fence, with 10' posts, to which I added 3 strands of wire, 1' apart (total height- 7 1/2 feet. Things went well under late summer when I went away for a week, came home to find my sweet potatoes totally wiped out- yet the fence and wires were intact. On closer inspection, one wire seemed to have a lot of slack in it, so I can only assume they *somehow* jumped or climbed between the fence and wire. I put up the black plastic netting over the wire, and haven't had a problem since. (Oh, and the sweet potatoes themselves were fine- of course, THIS year it's voles eating my sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes and strawberries....)

Now, we put up some fencing around all new plantings, spray with homemade repellent (garlic, egg, hot sauce), etc., but there's always going to be a problem with the over- population of deer in NJ, and it's only getting worse...

The large nurseries around me are all putting up the 8 foot commercial fences, cutting off acres and acres of "deer buffet" from them and I think, "Gee, it keeps out the deer, I suppose, who still have to eat and thus wind up eating all the local resident's landscaping, who then have to go down to the nursery and buy more plantings..." but, then, I'm paranoid by nature, anyway.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Get a dog! Or at least get your neighbors to get them!

I live in Burlington County also, and that is what solved our problem with the deer. We have a new neighbor on the east side with a young and noisy Akita, and a Siberian husky that (sadly) spends his life on a chain on the other side. The groundhog and rabbits are still around but the damage they do is minimal compared to the deer. Believe me, I understand how upsetting it is after all the back breaking labor that goes into gardening but try not to take it personally, the deer are just hungry and they have been forced into our world by overdevelopement of their habitat.
Have you searched the web for home-grown methods - like spraying water mixed with raw egg, cutting worn socks (dark colors to match leaves and mulch) into little pieces and scattering them thru the areas the deer invade - they don't like the human smell..though you would have to do this sort of thing often....anyway, there are more than a few websites with this kind of information. And maybe someone on this site will have some suggestions. You could also get a fence around the back yard, something high though!

I am curious as to what you have planted, though I know they will eat alot of the so called deer resistant plants.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Unfortunately deer explore new plantings and plants standing on their own, even supposedly resistant ones.

If you can get the plants massed and established they will stand a better chance. I find covering them with deer netting is effective.

In my experience the deer do not touch anything in the mint family, buddleia, caryopteris, larkspur, figs, peonies or miscanthus grass. If you can establish a massed backbone of untouchables, then you can start interplanting with more vulnerable plants.

Otherwise an 8-foot fence, or a dog that doesn't dig, may be your only hopes.

I have neighbors who have a five foot hedge of forsythia surrounding their yard. The deer could easily jump it, but since they can't see the other side, they don't.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

yes, they never touch my peonies. Black eyed susans, purple coneflowers, and begonias are pretty safe as well. There is one other plant I have, it just stopped blooming and started over a month ago- it's tall and an almost neon yellow flower, not a shade plant - anyway, they don't touch it...I'll look it up and let you know because it is beautiful and spreads nicely.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Try Deer Out spray - I have used this for 2 years in Somerset County with success on shrubs. It smells minty and is not unpleasant to use.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Have you tried Clerodendron bungei, Illicium floridanum (several varieties), I. henryi, I. mexicana, I. parviflorum, and Buxus? Nothing seems to bother them.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

And I would swear that hellebore were totally safe and slug proof too, but I know a north Jersey gardener whose hellebore get chomped.

But you should be able to find some plants that work.

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

Motion activated gatling gun?

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

I hear you, sister. When choosing new plants - think stinky, poisonous, fuzzy leafed, stickers.
I have luck growing the following plants in Deer Central Station (Somerset County):
Butterfly Bush
Rose Campion
Bearded Iris
Bleeding Heart
Penstemon "Husker Red"
Prickly Pear Cactus
Most Salvias
Globe Thistle
Red Hot Poker
Bee Balm
Any Aromatic Herb
Snow in Summer
Ornamental grasses (Japanese Blood Grass/Black Mondo/Zebra/Fescue)
Russian Sage
Rose Coreopsis
Lily of the Valley
Yarrow "Coronation Gold" is my fav.
Gas Plant
Lamb's Ear
Datura (Angel Trumpet)
Most Ferns

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

I have a product which keeps deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds, insects, frost and heat from destroying gardens. It is called Garden Commander. We have used my invention on our farm in Northern Virginia for the last 7 years and it works great. Great for vegetables, flowers and herbs, anything grown in rows. Perfect for raised beds and square foot gardens. We ship them from our farm and sell them at garden shows. Check out or website, you will not be disappointed. Chemicals are not needed, they are great frames for frost and shade cloths and are wonderful plant supports! Garden Commander is a durable, 14 guage wire that won't rust, lasts for years and all you will need are more!

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Commander LLC

RE: help! deer is destroying my garden!!

I realize it is not a new post -- and also that you might laugh---but we stop deer eating our plants by sprinkling urine around the beds. My husband provides the supply using a milk jug in the bathroom, then we age it a bit (doesn't need much) in the jug behind the shed where no one will see. I run a strip of drips along the edge of the beds.

Don't do this shortly before a garden party; fresh applications are stinky! -- but it has stopped the invasion of the beds we use it on. I have read stories by others who use this system who watched from the window as the deer came up to their accustomed buffet, got a whiff, snorted & ran off.

It's free, it does not pollute and there is an endless supply. Can be from either sex but it is easier for guys to collect it.

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