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Ah...those pesky deer

I've lived with deer in my ornamental and vegetable garden for 25 years now. I first tried to tempt them with their own plants, water, and even a salt link to keep them outside my garden areas. Didn't work...just became an invitation to explore more. So I set out to find if there are deer management ideas that might actually work. Here's a short list that I found helpful. Of course there is nothing that will permanently and completely work.

  1. Mask smells that deer like with aromatic plants, like sages. Deer and elk tend to leave Salvias alone. One theory is that they don't like the fragrance or taste of sage chemicals. Strategically planting sages near vegetable gardens or fruit trees may deter consumption.

  2. Grow prickly hedges. Hedges with really thorny roses, like our natives,, and plants with strong orders that deer don't like including Salvias. may discourage deer from entering your yard. Tall hedges also hide strawberry beds and other deer-snack plantings from view.

  3. Don't over plant one species. Grow a variety of deterrent plants in case local deer take an unexpected liking to one species.

  4. Fence deer out. Install electric fences or 8-foot wood or metal fences around particularly vulnerable areas. Make sure electric fencing is turned on during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.

  5. Use motion-detection tools. Install outdoor lighting that is activated by movement.

  6. Let the dogs out. Deer are especially wary of large dogs.

  7. Surround and cover. Wrap tough plastic around the trunks of trees that have tasty bark and cover foliage with bird netting when trees and bushes are fruiting.

  8. Change yard ornaments periodically. Objects such as scarecrows, statuary and cordons of monofilament string with strips of shiny foil attached cause deer to shy away.

  9. Make safe choices. Research repellants you plan to use to make sure they aren't poisonous.

  10. Be flexible and ready to share a bit. There is no such thing as a completely deer-resistant garden.

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