When I’d talk about my prolific gardens in Ohio, often the first question would be, “What did you do to keep the deer out?” Actually, I rarely had problems with deer. Rabbits, chipmunks, and ground squirrels were a different story, not to be addressed here.
With deer being crowded out of their natural habitat, they WILL forage food from your garden. In a small town not five miles from where I live now, it is not unusual to see herds of deer wandering through town dining on the residents rose bush or Hosta plants.
Yes, Bambi is cute, but when you start losing plants to the hungry masses, it’s time to do something.
Here are a few recommendations:
1) Buy “deer-proof” plants. Do your research before you purchase your plants, bushes, and trees. Nurseries can even provide you this information if it is not on the plant label. I’m not saying the deer won’t eat deer-proof plants if they’re hungry enough, but, like humans, they have their favorite foods. This does, however, limit the number of plants you can buy.
2) There are sprays you can purchase at your local gardening center that help deter the hungry animals. Some are natural rather than chemical, but read the label
3) You can hang shiny objects that move with the wind (aluminum pie plates for example). It may startle them, but once the deer realize it isn’t going to hurt them, they’ll ignore them
In the end, if you’re determined to have a garden and you live in an area that is part of the deer’s natural stomping ground, there isn’t a whole lot to do except fencing. In the long run, depending on how much traffic you get from the hungry animals, you might save more by fencing than replanting after every meal.
Keep in mind, a strong-minded deer can scale a four-foot fence with ease. Depending on your local deer population you could consider tall fencing (6’ high or greater), solid wood fencing (to block their view of your garden), electrified fencing (via electricity or solar), or double fencing (two 4′ tall fences spaced 5′ apart).
Your turn: Does Bambi visit your back yard?