Although its great to have a space where Mother Natures’ creatures can visit and feel at home, they can become quite the unwelcomed guest. Here are some simple things you can do to manage deer on your property.
1- Use plants that deer don’t like to eat in and around your garden-Some common plants and herbs to try are less
appealing to deer and other garden pests but beneficial to pollinators and helpful garden insects like: marigolds, crape myrtle, geranium ‘rozanne’, foxglove, daisies, papaver (poppies), narcissus, rudbeckia, achillea, agastache, aster, lupine, coreopsis, verbascum, centaurea, echinacea, mint, chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay laurel, tarragon, thyme, fennel & lavender. Contact your local nursery to see which plants are native (and able to thrive) to your area.
2- Surround your property with fencing– Only use wire mesh or solid fencing. Deer can squeeze through just about any spaces between slats or gaps in wood fencing. (Mesh now comes in a variety of colors and can blend in better with your surroundings.) The recommended height is at least 8 feet high – higher on a slope so the deer won’t be able to leap over. If you cant make it that high, create a barrier by erecting parallel 4-foot-high fences, 5 feet apart. Deer won’t attempt to jump shorter fences if they see another obstacle.
3– Use Deer Netting Sheets and Tree Bags– Deer netting is lightweight and easy to setup/take down. Fence in trees or cover raised beds with mesh or screens. The barriers should be up to 6 feet tall and at least 2 feet from the foliage
so the deer cannot eat over or through the fences. Shrub and tree netting can be used year round, protecting trees and shrubs in winter from roaming deer. Garden nylon mesh netting sheets can be used on larger trees, and as a cover for flowers and vegetables. Use strong, multi-strand, U/V protected deer netting, which lasts for years instead of the single strand netting.
4- Spray your garden with a natural deer repellent– Blend 2 or 3 old eggs in blender with 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, a dash or two of cayenne pepper & Tabasco sauce. Add 1 cup of water with couple drops of cooking oil, then puree and strain it. Put it into a spray bottle and use once a week on plants you want to protect.
Or you can use fermented salmon fertilizer as a repellant. “Salmon fertilizer is a natural product and can be applied to vegetables as well as to your ornamental plants. Spray a dilute solution on your plants, and the odor will discourage deer from eating the foliage. Natural oils in the fertilizer will help keep it from washing off quickly in rain, so it doesn’t need to be applied as often as some other sprays. It will also discourage aphids and help prevent fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. If you apply it in the evening, the smell will have time to dissipate overnight. However, you may not want to use it too close to harvest time! Consider carefully whether you should try the salmon option if you live in bear country.”
5- Some extras to try- Deer are skittish about any unfamiliar smell, sight or sound. Unpredictable sound, light and motion are good tactics. Wind chimes, flags or windsocks can do the job and also beautify your garden space. Hang
bars of deodorant soap like Zest or Irish Spring from trees throughout the garden. Add enough of the pungent bars so no tempting leaves are more than 3 feet from a bar.
I do not recommend electric fences or chemical repellants, as both are harmful to other animals, pets and children. The methods listed are ideas related to IPM practices, Integrated Pest Management, which tries to find the best solution for problems by understanding the habits of the pests involved and leaving the use chemicals as a last resort.