The thrill of planting a beautiful garden or tending to a meticulously landscaped yard can quickly become a daily frustration if it becomes a favorite feeding spot for deer. From human hair to garlic, here are five ways to stop deer from eating plants in your yard or garden from R. Wayne Mezzitt, chairman of Weston Nurseries, which has locations in Hopkinton, Chelmsford, and Hingham, Massachusetts.
5 Ways to Stop Deer From Eating Plants
Deer damage in my garden was excessive this year. What can I do to prevent this? — S.R., Buckland, MA
Does human hair keep deer away?
The surprising answer is yes! After a haircut, keep the hair and scatter it all over the plants. See the deer run away. Human hair can repel deer, but weather diminishes its effectiveness so frequent reapplications are needed. Also, once deer become used to humans and realize they are not a threat, the fear factor disappears.
What are the best deer repellants?
Sometimes, if you’re really stuck on the best way to stop deer from eating plants, you have to go pro. I apply a commercial deer repellent to plants. My favorites so far are Bobbex and Deer Off. Professionally formulated products to repel deer disrupt the browsing habits of deer with their odor or taste or by mimicking the scent of a predator. Note: When plants are actively growing, applications must be made more frequently to the new shoots, which deer prefer. Unfortunately, deer learn quickly. As population pressures increase, deer can overcome their dislike of these offensive products, learn that they are masking palatable plants, and return to graze. Using a combination of different repellents along with choosing plants less favored by deer would be more effective.
Do deer eat garlic? Or will it help repel deer?
Immerse bulbs for a short time in a mixture of Tabasco sauce and finely minced garlic; remove the bulbs and allow them to dry, then plant them. Garlic and other odiferous products are offensive to deer. The garlic “pencils” sold in garden centers can be effective in changing browsing habits. Mothballs, coyote urine, or bars of fragrant soap (specifically Lifebuoy and Irish Spring) hung from tree branches have also worked as deer repellents. Researchers at Cornell University claim that deer are repelled by the odor of Milorganite, a sludge-based fertilizer.
Can you repel deer with chicken wire?
Each spring I unroll 4-foot-wide chicken wire on the ground around the perimeter of my garden. Deer apparently are uncomfortable with the feel of the uneven surface and will not walk on this. This method has worked for years!
The last resort: Keep deer out with a fence.
Physically excluding these animals is the best way to prevent deer damage. But when deer become sufficiently desperate, they may learn to jump your barrier. Many types of fencing can work, including single- or multiple-wire strands at varying heights, electric fences, plastic or metal mesh attached to trees or posts, and solid structures made of wood or metal.
What are your tips and tricks for the best ways to stop deer from eating plants? Let us know!
This content first appeared in Yankee Magazine and was published online in 2016.
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