Oh Deer Where Did the Flowers Go?

This article originally ran in the Ruston Daily Leader on March 2, 2010.

Much of the landscaping damage by deer is seen during the winter months when browsing in the forest isn’t as plentiful. Deer come across these yards where the homeowners proudly grow, nurture, and water many tempting treats for the deer. Damage can also occur during fall when bucks begin rubbing their antlers on small trees.

Deer damage to ornamental and garden plants is not an easy problem to fix, although there are a few methods that we can implement to try and reduce the amount of damage being done.

Frightening the deer works for a short period but the deer usually realize that they are hearing a loud noise with nothing happening to them and the soon begin to ignore the noise.

There are also repellents that help reduce the occurrence of these animals. Some are store bought and others are homemade. Repellents typically put out an aroma that discourages the deer from coming into the area. Repellents can be effective in a small area with a few deer if they have an alternative food source nearby. Repellents also have to be reapplied often as they don’t stay in the environment long. After one small rainfall event or even a heavy dew and the repellent is usually gone.

Scare tactics and repellents are not practical solutions for homeowners with large yards. However, there are other options. On a standard electric fence small pieces of conductive foil can be attached at intervals. Apply peanut butter to each piece of foil. When the deer licks the peanut butter, they are shocked. This often will dissuade deer from the area.

Another more effective way to reduce damage by deer is by using deer feeding preferences. It’s seems at times that deer will eat anything, but like us they can be picky over certain foods. Therefore deer do tend to avoid certain plants, which is to the benefit of homeowners.

Some of the rarely damaged garden plants include cantaloupe, cucumber, hot peppers, tomato and watermelon. Annual flowers that are rarely damaged include French marigold, periwinkle, and snapdragon. Also, Baby’s-breath, iris, sage and lavender are good perennial flowers to plant, while Colorado Blue Spruce, Common Boxwood and Shortleaf Pine are a few of the woody plants that are rarely damaged.

Remember when it comes to preventing wildlife damage to your plants there are no guarantees. Nothing works every time. Sometimes a method that works for one doesn’t for the other. So it’s a constant trial and error situation. Here at the AgCenter we can give you some best management practice suggestions and hopefully you can minimize the damage that occurs to your plants that you work so hard planting. Please contact me for more information. 

3/12/2010 2:46:20 AM
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