Remember the first time the magic of Disney brought us Bambi and his ilk? We never saw the dark side of our little antlered friends did we; the one where they sneak about the night bounding over any obstacle shorter than a Winnebago, smug in the fact that they can devour a drift of daisies, a row of roses, and a lane of lilies before their two-legged, big-brained, thumb-endowed foes so much as pour their first cup of coffee. And while I am planning my imaginary all-venison buffet, they are reclining in some shaded glen drawing up their own menu of late night snacks to be had in my pastoral, well-stocked outdoor larder. In the words of another cartoon character (that of one lisping cartoon duck), “This means war!”
When it comes to protecting my garden from deer, I enlist a two-prong approach: fencing and repellent. Some friends opt for a third option, dogs with outside access. It seems the presence of a territorial wolf-like carnivore works wonders on persuading deer to focus on neighbors’ homesteads instead of yours. Unfortunately, my two well-fed bullies have little interest in deer other than a couple half-hearted growls from the front porch. The deer are on to them.
I have found deer repellents to be quite successful in thwarting grazing deer, though you do need to consider weather for spray longevity and effectiveness. The stuff works great in dry weather, but must be reapplied after strong rain storms. I keep a spray bottle of Liquid Fence deer repellent by my back door, and take it with me on almost every stroll around the property, spraying here and there to protect the unprotected, and to help ‘train’ the deer that some plants are off limits. I’ve found the deer do learn and form habits about what tastes good and what tastes bad, and they do have favorites. To deer, any rose or plant in the Rosa genus is the human equivalent of fine asparagus tips roasted in butter and drenched in hollandaise sauce.
Fencing tends to be the best solution in creating a deer-free parcel. For my large cutting garden, vegetable garden and orchard, I’ve installed an 8-foot plastic deer fence held up by zip-ties on t-posts every ten feet. For the gate, I simply attach hooked bungee cords to the fence end to secure the opening. In most cases, deer opt for the lowest hanging fruit so to speak, and find it easier to forage than to try to breech a fence. It’s worked for me ten years, that is when I remember to keep the gate closed. My mainstay rule, no matter what, always close the gate behind you. It’s safe to say, the night you forget, the deer will remember.
I want to thanks the folks at Dog Fence DIY for sending me a bottle of Liquid Deer Fence to try out and review. It really does work, as my rescued quince, cherry, and maple trees will vouch. Check out their review which I find to be ernest and spot on.