Garden of Dreams May 4,2013

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dealing with Deer in your garden

The phenomenon of more deer in the urban landscape than in the country.

- DNR mentions that winters for the last few years have been favourable for deer survival

- Other contributing factors: Hunting bans in municipalities. Better dog control than in the ‘old days’ by both owners and municipalities. Lack of large predators or any predators in urban areas

- Dunc’s observation/theory: Deer are adapting like crows, raccoons, and squirrels to the urban environment, losing fear of human contact, and learning to eat foods from gardens not in their traditional diet.

The Effect of Deer on Garden Plants: Grazing varies remarkably from area to area, depending on whether the deer are urban(aggressive) or rural(seldom graze on ornamentals), how many deer in the local herd, how much ‘other food’ (such as lush lawns and meadows) there is near your garden to keep them well fed, how bad and long the winter is (snow depth and cold temps etc), In Millidgeville, Gondola Point, Darlings Island, Neck Rd., etc, the grazing can be severe. One indicator is native cedar. Mild deer leave it alone. Hungry/aggressive deer eat it to the twig.

Grazing bulbs is very bad, as you lose the flower, and much of the energy storage for next year. Avoid tulips! Grazing perennials is usually more aggravating than truly harmful, although young plants can be ruined or killed. Grazing shrubs can be lethal or permanently damaging, depending on the age/size of the shrub, the number/thoroughness of grazer(s), and the number of return trips to graze. Repeated grazing of evergreens can set them back permanently, and although they are alive, they will never look truly attractive. In a vegetable garden, they can make a real mess, loving greens, peas, corn, beans, and later in the summer pulling up carrots and biting into squash, etc. A fence is a must for vegetable gardens.

Coping & Prevention:

Fencing: To me the number one best way to keep deer off your gardens is with a 7’ barrier fence of heavy screening such as pagewire. A reasonably economical system is cedar poles 9’ long buried 2’ into the ground with 7’ of pagewire stapled to it. (Cedar- Kevin Saunders 647-1643) (page wire Coop Country Store by the Coop, Quispamsis 848-2349) I have actually made it through two summers with just 4’, not intentionally, but just the same!

Nylon netting on wood framing will work too, but they may rip through it if too thin. Chicken wire would do too, but may cost just as much as page wire.

Electric fence works well. Supplies for it are from the Coop country store too, maybe better to go up to Sussex to talk to them and look at options. Use at least three wires, to get raccoon and rabbit blockage too. Maintenance is key with electric- grass must be kept mowed and snipped to not touch wires, and to give good grounding. In dry weather, water under the wire for good grounding.

Taste deterrents: Pepper concoctions – don’t last too long. Go on line for recipes (eg deerrepellents.com)

-Chemical ones such as Tree Guard

Blood-based repellents, eg Plantskydd. –works well if applied about weekly during feeding times, less so in winter, but a few times. A heavy rain washes much of it off.

Motion based scaring/annoying machines: water spray that comes on when they approach- expensive and only cover a limited area Loud high-pitched noise to aggravate them away!

Miscellaneous: urine, dog hair, human hair, scented soap, garlic, etc Good Luck!! 

Member and Guest Ideas
Freeman Patterson -PlantSkydd –Two good drying days are needed as well as two applications with amply drying time. or one Female (needs to stay around) German Shepard
Capt. Dick Steele-Shoot the buggers.

They are growing in numbers

Photos by Steve Nason

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