by Mark Anderson, owner, Anderson’s Seed & Garden
I used to enjoy seeing the occasional deer bouncing through our yard. When I was younger, I remember only seeing deer during cold, hard winters with deep snow cover. Today, it’s like a free buffet at the Anderson home (and in our neighborhood in general) that’s too good to pass up. The herd now includes two four-point bucks, a five-point buck and multiple does and fawns. It’s a nightmare. Shrubs and trees that are supposed to be unattractive to deer are stripped clean of leaves and needles. My vegetable garden is their personal playground and lunch counter. We can’t even consider planting any pine, arborvitae or euonymus because they will only survive a few weeks before disappearing.
Many home remedies for deer repellent are out there, but few have lasting results. If you really want to prevent the costly damage incurred by your herd of “browsers” (deer like to nibble on a little bit of everything) traditional deterrents like fences, netting and chicken wire work well as they completely prevent deer from damaging the plants. However, they don’t look very attractive; therefore, they aren’t a great choice. Very few people enjoy having chicken wire wrapped around their shrubs all winter, if not all year long. It just doesn’t look great, despite its positive results.
Another option is to use a repellent. Many repellents have successfully deterred deer from causing wholesale damage to plants and yards. For the most part, many repellents don’t have an unpleasant odor, you can’t see them and they have a fairly long residual. I’ve never had a repellent completely stop deer, but we have experienced great results at deterring most of their damage with a good repellent. Deer Stopper, Liquid Fence, Plantskydd are all excellent repellents we have tried with acceptable results. They use natural ingredients that won’t hurt deer, but make the plants taste and smell like something other than what they are. Surprisingly, these types of repellents work quite well, even during snowy winters and wet spring weather.
A new method, that has great potential, is a motion sensitive, mechanical device known as sonic repellent. The motion sensor picks up the movement of the deer, and then emits a loud, annoying sound that scares them away (at a sound frequency that humans can’t hear!) or, for added entertainment, it will activate a sprinkler that sprays the deer with cold water that will drive the pesky intruders away. Not only do they work on deer, but on many other pests as well: raccoons, skunks and porcupines. The sonic sensor even comes with a solar-powered option for an easy setup and no batteries to change out.
Don’t be overwhelmed by deer damage. With a little experimentation, and a tiny bit of luck, you can find the right combination of deterrents to keep those freeloading deer from consuming your yard.