I really like seeing my colorful tulips in the spring and bright yellow daylily in the summer. But one major problem that I have encountered here in the Midwest is what is know as “deer browsing.” Deer browsing basically means that your landscape becomes a salad bar for hungry deer.
I think that’s a cute term, and deer themselves are even cuter, but truthfully, deer feeding is devastating to my expensive shrubs and perennials.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really like deer. We see them in the cornfield behind our home nearly everyday. I just don’t want the deer eating up my plantings in the process.
How to Protect Your Landscape from Deer Feeding
It is nearly impossible to completely stop deer damage to your shrubs, especially if their populations are high; but you can reduce it to the point where it is not noticeable.
The most obvious way to reduce damage is to find out what the deer are eating and just don’t put that in your landscape! But I like to think we can strike a balance between our human love for flowers and perennials, and the deer’s voracious need to ingest them.
Another idea is to surround the deer’s favorite plants with varieties that they don’t regularly feed on. For example, deer love tulips, but very rarely eat daffodils. So you plant a few tulips within a large ring of daffodils. This may seem logical, but trust me, it does not work! Deer are not stupid and they’ll trample those trumpety yellow daffs just to get to your Darwin Hybrids!
Deer Prevention Using Special Scents and Repellent
The two types of deer repellents are ‘contact’ repellents and ‘area’ repellents.
Contact repellents are applied directly to plants, causing them to taste bad. Area repellents are placed in a problem spot and repel by their foul odor.
Spray or spread contact repellents on a dry day with temperatures above freezing and concentrate on smaller plants first. Older, larger trees may be treated only on their new growth as it is most tender. Treat to a height 6 feet above the maximum expected snow depth.
Home Remedy Deer Repellent
A spray of 20 percent whole eggs and 80 percent water is one of the most effective repellents. To prevent the sprayer from clogging, remove the screen or white membrane attached to the end before mixing the eggs. The egg mixture is weather resistant but must be reapplied in about 30 days. Be prepared, however, as this spray smells like arse to humans after a few days also! Something about rotting egg smell doesn’t seem too down-home!
Other home-remedy deer repellents are not too effective, but they are worth mentioning anyway just for fun. These include small, fine-mesh bags of human hair (about two handfuls) and bar soap hung from branches of trees. Replace both soap and hair bags often to reset the scent. It is also a good idea to mix up the scents by using different people’s hair and different brands of soap. You have to keep things fresh! (pun inteneded)
Keep in mind that methods that work in one area or for one person may not work at all in an area more highly frequented by deer. You need to constantly try new things and switch them up.
Of course, you could put up fences everywhere and that will pretty much stop the deer, but they have been known to jump fairly high. In addition, fencing blocks the view of my tulips and that defeats the purpose.
I hope the ideas above will help keep your landscape from becoming the next deer buffet stop. Remember, the key is to try several different methods, and continually switch them up so keep the deer on their toes; or hoofs, if you will.