As the natural habitat for these herbivores is reduced by urban sprawl, hunger has driven deer to our backyards. But there are harmless ways to keep these beautiful creatures from munching on your garden.
In the early morning, deer can be seen strolling down many suburban streets, stopping to devour a tulip or lily in spring, a prized hosta or hollyhock in summer, and fruit in the fall. Lushly planted yards are simply too irresistible.
With traditional deer deterrents, the cure is often worse than the ill, and inhumane to boot.
Bags of human hair or bars of soap hanging in the trees, for instance. Or how about the aroma of rotting eggs, garlic, fox urine, or bags of sewage? Then there's hot pepper spray, made from stewed jalapenos. You can forget about stopping to smell those roses.
SAFE WAYS TO DETER DEER
For starters, try the fence option. Unfortunately, the pretty picket variety won't do. To be effective, it needs to be 4 to 7 feet high and set at a 45 degree angle from the ground. The electrified variety is an option, but they're not considered humane.
Polypropylene mesh deer fencing
is durable, yet nearly invisible from a distance. It's strong enough to keep out deer without harming them -- or your pets or small children.
The Guardener deer repellent device. Photo: Guardener
Then there's this clever Guardener solar-powered deer-deterring device
that works in two ways: first with ultrasonic waves that are audible (and annoying) to deer but not people, and then with short blasts of water. (The base of the unit holds 3.5 gallons of water, enough for 30 or 40 cycles, so no piping is necessary.) The unit is triggered by a motion sensor, so be sure to place it where passersby or wind will not be a problem. It works on other animals pests too.
Several other chemical-free products combine motion sensing, a light source, and an FM radio. When a deer approaches within 25 feet of your garden. The light and radio come on. You can set the duration with most units. I recommend the Deer Chaser
Perhaps the simplest and least obtrusive of all are repellers that work like motion-activated water sprinklers. The measure only 15 inches off the ground, and the range is quite a bit greater than other products I've looked at. One, called the Havahart Spray Away
can be adjusted to release a burst of water when an animal approaches to within 35 feet. You do have to devote a hose to it, and a 9-volt battery, but that's about it. You don't have to position it in a sunny spot or replace scent tubes regularly as you do with other repellers.
PLANTS THAT DETER DEER
You can also plant flowers, herbs, and shrubs that deer don't fancy
-- although they'll eat it if they get hungry enough. Check with your local cooperative extension agent for what works in your area as deer habits differ. That said, the list below contains commonly recommended species of deer-proof plants you can incorporate into your garden for extra peace of mind.
Flowers and Groundcovers
Orange chrysathemums. Photo: MCT
Liliy of the valley
Veggies and Herbs
Basil plant. Photo: Getty Images
Shrubs and Trees
Wisteria plant. Photo: AP