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Look What Came to My Yard!

deer, fawn, deer browsing, deer problemsThe stems and leaves in the perennial bed were rustling in an unusual way. The movement was too big to be a cat. The spots on the back of a little fawn did a magnificent job of hiding it! I am not quite sure why camo sells so well, when this speckled coat mades little deer disappear. I walked down and found this oh-so-adorable baby just a few feet away, nestled in the bee balm.

A visit from deer to your lovely, landscaped garden is not always such a tender moment of joy. They will eat just about anything that grows, without consideration of the cost to you and your careful landscape designs. They especially love to devour newly planted ornamentals, which can be devastating for a large commercial or industrial installation. If you are in an area where the deer and the antelope play, you have a few options.

Option one—Plant only items that deer will not eat. Poisonous plants like oleander and daffodils will be left alone. Spruce, Forsythia, Beautybush, Lilac, and Barberry will be untouched.

Option two—Plant herbs and ornamentals with strong and bitter oils in their leaves and stems. Oregano, Coreopsis, Yarrow, Lamb’s Ears, and Wormwood are too spicy for a deer’s palate.

Option three—Plant species with fuzzy or spiny leaves. Even though deer love to munch on Azaleas, they will avoid ‘G.G. Gerbing’ and ‘George Tabor’ because those cultivars have furry leaves. They might take bites out of young Holly plants, but as the leaves mature and harden, they are sidestepped for less painful, less pointed options.

But, if you want to open up your planting choices, you will need to use proactive measures. You may read about home remedies like pepper spray, egg shells, soap, or human hair. These don’t work well over more than a few days. There are commercial forms of deer deterrents, too, but they need to be reapplied on a regular basis. Who has the time?

Mechanical means are the most effective way to prevent deer browsing damage.

Option four—Individual seedlings can be protected with stiff biodegradable tubes until they can grow beyond the reach of deer.

Option five—You can put out an electric fence to guard valuable crops, but an electric fence can zap unintended victims and can be unattractive.

Option six—My best experience for larger landscaped areas surrounded by woods is to create a moat of wrinkled chicken wire, lying face down on the ground and covered with mulch. Deer hate getting their feet caught in the openings and will change their travel plans to walk around and away from an area bounded by the mangled fence. The wider the moat, the more effective, since deer can jump quite well!

One more thing. Pansies. Deer love Pansies more than anything else in the entire world! No deterrent of any kind will stop them from nibbling Pansies. Nothing will stop them, including standing next to the Pansies, waving your arms, and shouting, “Go away!”

Option seven—If you live in an area populated by deer, keep your Pansies indoors.

Seven Options for Dealing with Deer Browsing