Having just moved to a rural property, I know I am in for a battle when it comes to keeping deer out of my vegetables garden. I mean, to deer a veggie garden is an all-you-can-eat salad bar, right?
It is still new for me to see so many deer around and in my mind these Bambis are still adorable. If you ask me in six months time after losing part of my veggie crop to them, I may not think they are so adorable anymore.
After reading Rhonda Massingham Hart’s book Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden, I picked up a bunch of tips and am ready for a war against any deer that wants to munch on my peas.
Here are some of the main points that I learned from the book:
- You can landscape your garden with certain plants that deter deer. A long list of plants are included in the book. Deer will smell these plants and think ‘Yuk, why even bother going into that yard, with those bad-smelling plants. I will try the neighbouring yard instead.’
- If deer have had a taste of your vegetable garden, they will keep coming back. Best thing is to prevent them from coming in in the first place.
- Deer are very smart and will soon figure out your tricks. Motion sensor lights, bars of soap hanging in trees will deter deer but only for a short period. They will soon figure out that there is no danger and will start munching on your strawberries – that is, unless you have come up with something new to scare them with.
- Deer will only jump over a fence if they can figure out how tall it is and if it is safe to land on the other side. The book includes some tips to trick the deer, so they do not dare attempt to jump.
I have never had to deal with deer before in my small residential garden, so I learned a lot form this book. Rhonda Massingham Hart goes into great detail about deer behaviour, which was very interesting. It was an enjoyable read and at times really funny. I don’t think I will ever need to buy another book on deerproofing as this one covers everything. Here are some great tricks that I learned:
1. Install a ScareCrow Motion Activated Sprinkler. This deer-repellent can be set only to be active after sunset, so you don’t accidentally get sprayed with water while gardening. ScarecCrow detects deer in a 1000-square-foot area and will shoot out 2-3 cups of water. The ScareCrow is very popular and thousands of users on amazon.com rave about it.
2. Install an electric fence. The book has a whole chapter on electric fences. I must admit that I skipped this chapter because I don’t want my dear dog, Kahuna to get sapped. People tell me that dogs are fast learners and once shocked they will never go near the fence again… let me know in the comments below if you know anyone that has had experience with this.
3. Put up fishing wire all around your garden. The fishing wire needs to be tight, so make sure to wrap it a couple of times around each fence post. Tie the wire every two feet up to a height of at least six feet. The deer will walk into the fishing wire and will not understand what is preventing it from getting near your delicious bush beans. It will look up to try to determine how high it should jump, but can’t see the top fishing wire. Since it can’t figure out how tall the fence is, it will not dare trying to jump it.
Situations where the fishing wire trick does not work:
Gardeners that have used nimble sticks like bamboo to keep the fishing wire in place have found that the deer will simply walk right through it. So make sure to use some solid posts if you are going to use this method.
Other gardeners have not had luck with this method when morning mist has coated the fishing wire and a street light or other type of exterior light i shining on it. With the water on the fishing wire and light shining on it, it becomes very evident for the deer how high to jump to clear the top line.
Some gardeners have tied white cloths and such to the fishing wire as a reminder not to walk into it while gardening. Unfortunately, this acts as an indicator for the deer about how high to jump, so it is best to avoid tying anything to the fishing wire.
After reading this book I have decided that no matter what kind of home remedies you use, a fence seems to be the best solution. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive solution, but I think it is worth it in the long run. Fences are not always the prettiest to look at, so if it doesn’t fit in with your landscaping there are a couple of other options. A lot of gardeners are using a motion sensor water canon or an electric fence to keep deer away. I will try a 6′ fence the first year and hopefully this will work.
This book was a great winter read. It is perfect for anyone that is planning a garden from scratch or someone that has had enough of the deer eating their plants and want to keep them out.