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Oh Deer!

It was bound to happen sooner or later…deer found my garden. What can be done to keep them out?

It was bound to happen sooner or later…the local deer finally found me. Well, to be exact, they found my garden. They’ve completely eaten the hostas and impatients in my front yard and even were bold enough to venture around the house to chow down on more hostas.

Since they seem to come by night, I’ve become finely tuned into nighttime noises....any sudden or new noise could be them and I rush to the window to check. I’m ready at a moment’s notice to run outside to scare them away, but so far they’ve only returned after I’m asleep. This is probably just as well because if I were to run outside late on night yelling and clapping my hands, I’d probably scare the deer AND the neighbors and would probably very quickly have the police at my door.

Realistically, it’s almost the end of the growing season and losing these plants now really isn’t the end of the world (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). What I am concerned about is next spring. What can I do to discourage these nighttime forages once the garden starts growing again? Here’re a few possibilities I’ve thought about:

Fencing…Deer are able to hop over low fences so it would have to be a high one and who wants to live barricaded behind a high fence? Not me.

Scare tactics…I’ve already discovered I’d have to stay up all night, every night for this to work. I think I like sleep too much.

Urine….coyote (too expensive), human (I foresee problems with neighbors and the police with this one), dog (too messy to try to collect it and then spread it around the garden).

Other, even odder options to be hung or placed around the garden….bars of soap on sticks, bags of human hair, bags of animal waste. Who thinks up these things and who really wants these hanging around their yard?

Spraying…I sprayed a friend’s garden once and it was messy and smelly. However, people do swear by it. Definitely a maybe.

And finally, deer resistant plants…I have looked at a few different lists and of course no two lists completely agree on which plants are resistant to deer. They all do agree that ferns and ornamental grasses are good bets (but then again, I’ve always heard that if they’re hungry enough, deer will eat anything). I’ve also heard that deer may eat a particular plant in one area and other deer will turn their noses up at the same plant in a different area. Obviously the deer are not paying attention to these lists!

So for now I’ll go with what I know so far…my local deer love hostas and impatients. Next year I’ll lay low on impatients and will try to move the hostas out of the deer zone and replace them with some native ferns or ornamental grasses. I’ll spray the plants along the driveway and walkway to try to keep the deer out of my yard. And in case that still doesn’t work, I’ll have to have a chat with the dog to see what he can do about the spreading his urine around.

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Don October 03, 2011 at 03:48 AM
The other day I saw this web page on environmental triggers of asthma. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=18&po=9#tocbookmark11 Also, something like a death in the family or a divorce, if combined to exposure to something like mold or BPA causes potential for sensitization to allergies.
Claire Sommer October 03, 2011 at 05:37 PM
I wrote about Liquid Fence (and my own deer issues!) this summer. The West Orange Patch even had a contest to win two free bottles. It continues to be effective in keeping deer away from my front-yard hostas. Good luck! http://westorange.patch.com/articles/win-a-bottle-of-deer-repellant-are-deer-devouring-your-garden
Sean Congdon October 06, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Maybe the reason why the deer are coming around your yard is because they are getting pushed out of the hilltop due to construction and all Essex county reservations due to them being hunted. If its such an inconvenience for you to have deer in your yeard, get a fence.
Robert Thiemann October 06, 2011 at 07:19 PM
To Sean, I agree with you that they are being pushed out of their natural habitat, as I believe others have stated, and I agree with you about a fence; but I can not agree with your statement about hunting. Hunting, whether by man or natural predator, would not make the deer leave, only relocate and then return. Additionally there are very little areas for legal hunting in New Jersey, and those locations always have deer return, with in days. Hunting will cull the herds as natural predators and disease would have. Although I do not like hunting, I realize it can have beneficial reprecussions such as decrease of herd size, monies for the state and county, liberal excercise of Americans rights, food for tables, revenue for animal control and welfare, just to name a few. One thing it doesn't do is add to the habitat situation facing the animals at large. Please check into these facts. Thanx
Sean Congdon October 07, 2011 at 12:39 PM
That may be true, but ever since the hunt i have had more deer in my and my friends backyards then ever. I think they are cool to observe when they are so close. As for the hunting being beneficial, there has been a bacterial disease infecting deer in northern New Jersey lately, and many have died. Now think about it. If some smarter life form decided there were too many humans on earth, so they killed half the population, and then the Plague hit, we may be extinct right now. I just dont think it's right.

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