Imagine it has been your lifelong dream; a house in the country away from all the hustle and bustle of the city. A place where the air is clean, the soil is fertile, and where ”the deer and the antelope play”. It may be great to live in a forested area, but when it comes to planting flowers, shrubs, and all the other plants to beautify your home, you may not be thinking about the feeding habits of the forest creatures… namely deer.
Why Are There Deer Everywhere?
It is estimated that there were 500,000 white-tailed deer in the US in 1900. The most recent estimate is that the population has grown to over 25 million. The damage caused to both agriculture and residential property will exceed 1 billion dollars. Nature has always kept animal populations in check, but the suburban environment has disrupted the normal checks and balances of predators. The deer have had the opportunity to grow unchecked and have become a nuisance in many communities, leaving people to search for the best deer deterrent.
Deer have become accustomed to the urbanization of the US and can be found in forest preserves within many cities. They will travel a good distance in search of food; not only in areas that are adjacent to forests, but in many suburban spaces as well.
What Kind of Damage Can Deer Do?
A couple of years ago, I was asked to look at some arbor vitae that were damaged during the winter. When I got there, I could immediately see that the culprit was some hungry deer—they feed on the fronds that they can reach. Another helpful clue was the large amount of deer droppings that surrounded many of the plants. These plants will grow back, but the bottom parts will never be as full as the tops, especially if the deer return in the future.
What Deer Deterrent Should I Use?
Deer will feed on many plants; many vegetables, fruits (they especially love strawberries), flowers, and the tender tips of young trees. Adults will also damage trees by rubbing their antlers against the trunks. Most home landscapes can seem like a virtual smorgasbord of delights to a hungry deer. So how do you stop the deer from eating your plants? You can either plant less of their favorite foods, erect fences or other guards around your plants, or try to control their feeding habits.
There are an abundance of deer deterrent home remedies available online. You can try hanging bars of soap from your trees to present an unfavorable odor, or mesh bags filled with human hair or dog fur can also be used. Baby powder, blood meal, or bone meal will also provide some resistance, but the problem with many of these scent detractors is that they are short-lived, and once the deer become accustomed to the scent, it no longer distracts them from your plants.
One of the best ways to keep deer from eating your garden and landscape plants is to plant ones that they don’t like to eat, like boxwood, lilac, black-eyed susan, and more. However, if food is scarce, deer will eat just about anything they can to survive. If deer are a problem in your area, do some research and explore your options. It will keep your frustration levels in check.
We’d love to hear some stories or remedies that worked for you. Please share them in the comments section. And don’t forget that deer aren’t the only nuisance to your landscape—get more info on controlling pests like voles and other small animals.