Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 16
Experts share tips and tricks to
protect gardens from
Above: Native plantings help deter deer from feasting on ﬂowers. Right: Gardeners can use repellent to ward off animals from fruits and vegetables. Remember to reapply every 10 days and after rain.
Below: Multiple fences can be used to keep wildlife out of your garden.
by Pamela A. Keene | firstname.lastname@example.org
he succulent plants you so carefully tend in your garden are like an
oasis in a desert - a feast for the eyes and stomach, waiting to be harvested at just the right time.
Sometimes though, in their search for high-quality food, deer often
are attracted to our well-maintained gardens for an all-you-can-eat buffet.
According to nationally recognized gardening expert Joe Lamp'l, creator and
host of the award-winning PBS television series "Growing a Greener World,"
there are three primary strategies: exclusion through physical barriers, repellents and making appropriate plant choices.
"There's no foolproof method for keeping deer from eating your landscape if
they're hungry, but there are some ways to minimize the damage," Joe says. "It
takes persistence and a few tricks, but you can keep deer at bay."
Pick Native Plants
In the wild, plants develop defenses such as waxy leaves or prickles that
make them more adaptive to survive grazing. Even when they do get nibbled,
natives are more likely to survive than the succulent plants in our gardens.
Choosing the right kinds of plants - those deer typically do not like - can
reduce the likelihood of free-range foraging in your landscape.
"Native plants are among the best bets for your garden and landscape," Joe
says. "Native plants evolved at the same time as your area's wildlife and developed their own resistance to deer feeding to survive."
Daylilies, hydrangeas, hosta, azaleas, rhododendron, roses, fruit trees,
arborvitae and Leyland cypress are ready-made food sources. Garden experts
recommend not planting these if you have a high-trafﬁc deer area.
Instead, look for plants and trees on the less-likely-to-be-eaten list, including boxwoods, hollies, ornamental grasses, hellebores/Lenten roses, ferns,
butterﬂy bushes, cedar trees, redwoods and hemlocks. Consider planting them
in the outer reaches of your landscape.
Sometimes combining deer-desirable plants with those deer do not like can
reduce the chance of having your colorful ﬂower beds mowed to the ground.
Mixing marigolds with pentas or lantana or Angelonia with impatiens tends to
keep deer from grazing. Some gardeners intersperse pansies with spring onions
to make deer work harder to sort out the plants they like to eat.
"Use 'decoy plants' around your landscape to attract deer away from your
valued plants," Joe says. "For instance, give up part of your property to
deer-friendly plants in hopes that they will focus on this readily available food
source. However, if the deer are hungry enough, they will eat anything. No
method is completely effective."
As creatures of habit, deer tend to feed in the same areas for generations.
This can be problematic when invading their territory to create new neighborhoods, which compromises their food and water sources.
"The key is making sure we have a way to live with wildlife," says Michael
Mengak, wildlife specialist professor at the University of Georgia. "It may mean
habitat modiﬁcation, but it's important to strike a balance between the needs
of people and the needs of animals."
Fence Them Out
The most reliable way to address a deer issue is to create a physical barrier
or a way to exclude deer from your landscape, Joe says.
He suggests building a double, three-strand fence, like those used for livestock protection. Mount plastic insulators on 36-inch wooden, ﬁberglass or
metal stakes. Make two concentric circles around the area, 3 feet apart. String
the stakes in each circle together with wire strands, placing the wire in the
outside circle 18 inches from the ground. Then put two strands on the inner
stakes at 10 and 24 inches.
"A deer's depth perception is not good, so they will sense the presence of the
two fences, but will be very unlikely to attempt to jump both," Michael says.
If a double fence is not practical from a space standpoint, he suggests building a standard fence from posts and chicken wire, woven ﬁeld wire or welded
mesh wire at least 8 feet tall.
Turn to Repellents
Frustrated gardeners have resorted to a variety of techniques to deter Bambi
and friends from foraging and grazing on prized roses, vegetables and hydrangeas: human hair, Irish Spring soap shavings, crushed garlic, capsaicin oil, aluminum pie pans suspended on string, motion-activated lights and sprinklers.
"Some of these methods may work for the short term, but deer are creatures
of habit and they'll adjust to these attempts to add a human scent to frighten
them," says Neil Soderstrom, author of "Deer-Resistant Landscaping: Proven
Advice and Strategies for Outwitting Deer and 20 Other Pesky Mammals."
The key to any applicant is to alternate their use. "The odor will dissipate
over time, so you must be diligent in applying them every 10 days or so, and
after it rains," he says.
The process takes several weeks, so it is important to use a spray on the
foliage during the ﬁrst few weeks.
Most box retailers and nurseries offer a choice of products in liquids, concentrates or powders. Completely read the labels, including cautions, before
using to ensure the product is safe when used on fruits and vegetables.