Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gardening with Deer

   I'm sure everyone who's reading this has had at least one prized plant (probably more) ravaged by deer. You may have even thought to yourself "how can I create a habitat, especially one with host plants for butterflies and fruiting trees and shrubs for birds, if the deer eat it all?". Forget the deer resistant plant lists, they'll eat anything if they want to. From the thorniest of roses to poison ivy, to even monarda, which they're supposed to not like!
   But this is a wildlife habitat, right? I think deer are unfairly blamed and maligned, it's the humans who have screwed up their environment. I try to accept and work around whatever challenge they may bring. One thing we have done, after they started nibbling on the dogwoods we planted this spring, is to put cages around newly planted trees. We bought some supplies at Lowes, 4 and 6 foot stakes and a roll of wire fencing, and caged our dogwoods until they could get established. This also helped prevent our resident diggers (raccoons and skunks) from digging them up looking for tasty morsels (yes, that happens a lot).
   Over the past 3 months I have been trying out a new deer deterrent spray, Deer Out. I never had any success with Liquid Fence, so I tried not to get my hopes up too high, but Deer Out is different. It's mint based, whereas others on the market are garlic or urine based. It's working so well that I think for the first time I may actually see my daylilys bloom! Many years ago I planted some daylilies, before realizing we had deer, and I've never seen them bloom because it turns out daylilies are deer candy. We have deer pass through are yard virtually every night and so far, since I've sprayed the daylilies, not even a nibble! This is not a paid endorsement, I just want to let you guys and gals know about this product, there may be hope after all. We can garden with deer, not against them. I purchased mine direct from them here. I've even been able to get rid of the cages around my viburnums and they're ignoring my blueberry bushes. It really works for me (so far, I hope I'm not jinxing myself) and I hope you find it successful too.
   Here's an interesting fact about deer.....One of the many reasons deer are overabundant on the east coast is due to a lack of a top of the food chain predator, namely the wolf. Our ancestors killed off the wolves in the 1700's when they settled here - they were a ''pest" to the sheep and cattle herds. Wolves, buffalo, and elk were abundant here in the Roanoke Valley 250 years ago.



  2. Thanks for the help, Julie!
    I have a great garden right now which has outgrown its existing cage. I will try this immediately.
    :) Marnie

  3. I'll have to pass this one on to some friends of mine... they garden instead of going to the grocery store, so deer visitations are not particularly welcome. Thanks for the info!