Low-Cost Ways to Deer Proof Your Garden
Deer are nibblers.They like to browse on many kinds of plants, especially the new shoots and tips of trees, shrubs and garden vegetables and flowers. Increasingly bold in populated places, deer thrive in wooded areas that adjoin open yards or gardens, which provide cover for a quick escape.
Deer are habitual in their foraging. You’ll often see them at about the same time every day— frequently around dawn or dusk.
In the wild, cougars, bears and coyotes prey on deer, and eagles and bobcats pose a threat to young fawns. In the city neighborhoods, deer have little to fear, except perhaps from cars and large dogs.
As deer pressure increases in populated areas, organic gardeners are turning to folk remedies and new ideas for deer-proofing the garden. Many of the remedies rely on creating a strong scent:• Deodorant soap - Hang wrapped bars of strong-scented soap around the edge of the garden. Each time it rains the soap scent will be renewed.
• Human hair - Hang handfuls of human hair bundled in cheesecloth bags around the garden.
• Deer-repellent - Mix up a strong-scented liquid and spray it on the plants or the ground around the plants. Gardeners often try water mixed with eggs, hot peppers, garlic, hot sauce or some other disagreeable odor.• Noise makers - anything that creates a sudden noise can frighten off a deer.
• Grow deer-resistant plants. Deer will bypass vegetables and herbs they find less palatable.
• Get a big dog.
The Deer-Free Garden
Although deterrents can help, the only way to truly protect your garden against deer is to put up a fence.
Fences should be 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) high for success. In areas of heavy deer damage, it is helpful to angle the top of the fence outward. Deer will go under a fence before trying to jump over, so make sure the barrier extends to the ground. A 17-inch (43 cm) gap at the bottom is an invitation for deer to crawl under.
If the cost of fencing seems daunting, consider the following ideas for low-cost deer barriers.
Small enclosures are great for protecting a single plant or a group of plants. Good options for barriers include these:
• Bird netting secured with sticks or stakes. In areas of low deer pressure, this is a great way to protect favorite vegetables, such as beans or
• Fish line fencing. Tie rows of 100 lb. monofilament fish line between tall stakes to create a nearly invisible barrier. This can be an attractive way to protect showy flowers such as roses.
• Chicken wire or snow fencing held in place by wooden stakes. Although a bit more pricy, this is a good option for fruit trees. Fencing should be at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall. Although deer can easily jump a 5-foot fence, they will not do it in small spaces unless there is a clear landing area.
Use fences for larger spaces, such as enclosing an entire garden.
• Fish nets are often available free from fishermen who discard their used nets. (You may need to patch a few holes.) Nets provide an effective barrier against deer. Netting, however, tends to sag, so to create an attractive enclosure, use supports with a cross beam at the top from which to suspend the nets. • Branch and twine fence. Slender branches saved from tree trimming can create an attractive natural-looking fence. Use twine on the joints and be sure to extend the fencing to the ground, so deer will not crawl under.