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Who doesn’t love observing deer as they interact with their surroundings? They’re beautiful, graceful, gentle...and incredibly destructive. Unfortunately these lovely creatures are quite capable of laying waste to your garden, particularly when they’re foraging for food in the spring and summer months. If you’d prefer to watch the deer rather than feed them the contents of your garden, try a combination of the following solutions.
Making the contents of your garden less appetizing to deer is one way to keep them from devouring all of your hard work. Since deer rely heavily on their sense of smell when foraging, adding areas of aromatic herbs can mask the smell of neighboring annuals. Other deer-resistant plants rely on unpalatable textures to deter consumption. The best deer resistant plants are prickly, bitter, spicy, fuzzy, aromatic, or have a milky sap.
Regrettably, taste varies both deer to deer and year to year — even resistant plants may be nibbled periodically. However, if there is a drought or a sudden growth in deer population, they will eat even the most undesirable plants.
Proper fencing is easily the best way to keep deer out of your garden. Wooden, wire, or stone fences need to be at least 8-feet high. The more opaque the fence, the better, as deer don’t like to jump obstacles if they can’t see where they will land. Deer will also avoid getting their feet tangled in anything. Pallets or chicken wire laid flat on the ground around your garden will deter them from wandering into your vegetables.
If you choose to go electric, you’ll need a 6-foot tall, permanent high-tensile electrified fence.You will want to bait the fence in order to prompt deer to touch the wires with their nose or tongue. After a few run ins with an electric fence, they will start looking elsewhere for food.
Scarecrows, wind chimes, bright lights, and other noisemakers will deter deer — but only for a short time. Deer will adapt to the presence of such items once they realize there’s no real threat.
Predator urine treatments and commercial repellants can be effective as well. However, they must be applied frequently, reapplied after heavy rainfalls, and are not practical for large areas.
When all else fails, a sacrificial garden may be the way to go. Place deer-favored plants at the outer edge of your yard to ensure the deer will eat to their fill before they even have reason to venture farther onto your property.
It is possible to co-exist with deer without losing your prized flowers and veggies — it just takes a little work and a lot of ingenuity. Don’t let those long legs and big eyes get the better of you.
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.