Tag: deer

Deer Proofing Your Garden

I’ve not had any deer problems in my flower or vegetable beds at the Garden Home Retreat. That’s bold statement for any gardener to make, but it’s especially risky considering the fact that the Retreat is surrounding by woods. There have plenty of deer sightings, but they don’t seem to be interested in the gardens.

I’m not sure what to attribute this to, but I know it won’t last forever. Eventually the deer are going to drop in for a visit and as we all know they are the type of guests who never leave.

Although I want to take precautions I also realize that deer and other wildlife were here long before I arrived. So I’m choosing measures that will keep me in good stead with my wild neighbors. Some of my solutions will also work for you in your garden home.

Deer Fence – I was given this tip from gardener and author Betsy Clebsch. She showed me how to build a deer proof fence. Deer can jump pretty high, but they don’t like to jump across a double barrier. So a fence inside a fence is much more effective than one tall fence. At the Garden Home Retreat I’m building two 4′ tall fences that are 5′ apart. The space between the fences will be wide enough for a wheelbarrow or lawn mower and too far apart for a deer to jump across. This is a good solution for small gardens or specially designated areas of a garden.

Deer Netting – I won’t be able to encircle the entire property with deer fencing so I’ll have to use some other defenses as well. I really like DuPont™ Garden Products Deer Netting. It can be draped over plants or attached to existing fencing. Deer don’t like the way it feels on their muzzle so they avoid it and whatever it is protecting. It’s a fine mesh material that is hardly noticeable against plant materials. It’s also UV-resistant so it will last a long time and can be reused year after year.

Plant Choices – Food preferences have not been a deciding factor when I chose plants for the Garden Home Retreat, but I am careful to avoid some of their favorites such as rhododendron, azaleas and hostas. Why risk ringing the dinner bell? I also planted 50,000 daffodils instead of tulips because deer won’t eat daffodils. Deer also dislike plants with a pungent fragrance like marigolds, lavender, boxwood and herbs. Fuzzy foliage plants like lamb’s ear are also not on a deer’s menu. Very few plants are actually deer proof. When food is scarce, they will eat just about anything.

Deer Resistant Plants? Fact or Fiction?

Raise your hand if deer like to graze in your garden. How many different tactics have you tried to protect your plants? Have you tried hanging bars of soap from tree limbs, sprayed predator urine or scattered human hair around flower beds?

While these inventive measures may work temporarily, a long term solution requires a holistic approach. First, you have to give up the idea that you are ever going to deer proof your garden. Unless you build a 7-foot tall fence around your place, there’s not much you can do to keep them out. Next, make your garden less appealing to deer. Stop planting their favorites like tulips, roses and hostas and choose plants that deer are less inclined to eat. A few plant characteristics to look out for are fuzzy foliage, an antiseptic aroma and a bad taste.

Are there plants that are 100 percent deer resistant? No. The truth is that deer will eat anything when food is scarce, but if your garden is filled with plants that deer find unpleasant, there is a good chance they will move on to the delicacies in your neighbor’s yard.


Deer Damaged Tree Trunk

My 6 year old red maple tree was the victim of a whitetail buck. He rubbed his horns on the trunk scraping away the bark on 3 sides of the tree. Is there anything I can do to help my tree?

If it isn’t bad enough that deer eat up everything in the garden, they can also be quite destructive with their antlers. A male deer will rub his antlers on a tree to mark it with his scent. This lets the area does know he is available if they are interested and tells passing bucks to keep away.

The problem arises when the bark is peeled away from the trunk. This exposes the delicate vascular layer beneath that transports nutrients and water throughout the tree.

With minimal damage, say just one or two sides of the tree are affected, the tree won’t suffer much but it may lose some leaves and branches.

Girdling is more serious. This is when the bark has been scraped away all the way around the trunk. In many cases the tree won’t survive and it’s important to call in an arborist to help gauge the situation.

It sounds like the deer in your garden did quite a bit of damage, but he didn’t manage to girdle the trunk, which is good news.

Without seeing the size of the wounds it’s impossible to determine if you need to contact an arborist. If they are close enough together to be almost continuous then get professional help. If the wounds are small there are some things you can do to help them heal properly.

Get to work as soon as you can. Fast action goes a long way towards a quick recovery.

If it’s still around, you can reattach the displaced bark to the tree. Simply cover the wound with the bark, securing it in place with duct tape or a sturdy strap. It will take about 3 months for the bark to reattach. Be sure to remove the binding once the wound has healed to prevent it from cutting into the trunk as the tree grows.

If there isn’t any bark, clean the edges of the wound. Cut away the torn and jagged edges of the bark with a sharp knife. You want to create a pointed oval with the top and bottom being narrower than the middle. Try to do this without greatly increasing the amount of lost bark or cutting into the tree.

As a final measure it would be a good idea to prevent further deer damage by protecting the trunk with a tree guard. You can purchase these online or at your favorite lawn and garden retailer.