It may be difficult to imagine, but in the early 1900’s, there were 100x less deer than there are roaming about right now. The nationwide deer population went from a mere 300,000 to numbers that now exceed 30,000,000. Almost 100 years ago, some states attempted deer management programs to encourage deer populations to flourish. Now, humans are using tools such as conception prevention programs and other humane methods to keep numbers at a manageable level.
The explosion of white tailed deer has created a horde of wildlife creatures searching desperately for food – saplings, trees, flowers, crops, and anything else they can reach. If not protected, this will include your green space and highly cherished gardens. In addition to the devastation they can wreak on cropland, deer are also responsible for car collisions (resulting in over 200 deaths every year) and dropping disease-bearing ticks into the yard where people and domestic animals walk and play.
Effective Methods to Keep White Tailed Deer Away
- Deer Fences. Installing deer fencing around the perimeter of your green space or garden creates a natural, durable, and eco-friendly barrier between deer and your plantings. Choose deer fencing for your prized trees and bushes or choose to erect it completely around your yard to encourage them to other pastures.
- Deer Resistant Plants. Being somewhat skittish in nature, deer will naturally avoid anything that spooks them. In a sense, this also includes what they choose to dine on. If you know that there’s a possibility deer will be using your garden as their own private restaurant, seriously consider what you plant beforehand.
Hairy or Fuzzy Greenery. Deer don’t like anything that feels strange on their tongues, so choose plants that are either super soft or bristly. Run it along your cheek to check the texture of the plant if you’re unsure. Some examples include Siberian bugloss, lady’s mantle, and poppies.
Heavily Scented Foliage. Much like humans, deer “taste” with their noses first. If a plant smells particularly pungent to them, they won’t partake in feasting on it. Plants such as lavender, oregano, thyme, sage, and Artemisia make for perfect perimeter plants to mask the scent of the plants deer might find more enticing within the garden.
Prickles and Thorny Plants. Even though some deer become desperate enough to eat around the thorns on a rose bush, the existence of prickles or thorns will likely cause deer to take a pass on your garden. Think globe thistle, sea hollies, bear’s breeches, and many other varieties.
Difficult to Digest Foliage. While it may be true that wildlife can process and digest more fibrous material than humans can, they still have their limitations. Consider planting irises, dragonwing begonias, peonies, elephant ears, and pachysandra as these are all too difficult for deer to digest, so they won’t stop to investigate.
- Consistently using Deer Repellants. The number one reason why gardeners don’t have luck with deer repellants is because they fail to use them consistently. If you are committed to reapplying them on a regular basis, you will see much more effective results. Spray plants that are naturally appealing to deer, and don’t worry about the rest. Spray repellants tend to work the best and sprays that allow for spreading and sticking on leaves will also be more effective. Sprays that are made of dried blood, putrefied eggs, soaps and even garlic will work wonders on keeping deer out of your garden.
- Scare the Deer. Since deer are skittish and scare easily, it doesn’t take much to spook them enough to convince them that your garden is not their home or a place to eat. There are many ways to go about achieving this including hanging CD’s in the garden or from trees to create unpredictable bursts of light. Tin foil pie plates will eerily rustle in the wind, but a motion-activated sprinkler system is perhaps the best way to scare them away because the right sprinkler will shoot a quick burst of water in the direction of motion it is detecting, and range can also be adjusted for even more effective targeting. Keep in mind that if you live in an area with winter freezes, you will need to store away the sprinkler system for the season so the hoses don’t freeze. Deer fencing will work all year long, and will hold up to the heat, cold, and wind.
The huge surge in population of white tailed deer is having a devastating impact on gardens, trees, and saplings. Though they might be graceful and elegant, keeping them away from your yard and harvest is highly advisable for the safety of your crop yield, garden, and family.