Friday, October 24, 2008

Keep Deer from Winter Plants

I know most people have deer problems in the summer, but around here, winter is the worst time of year. When the snow begins to pile up in the mountains, the deer begin migrating back into town for winter forage, and they stick around until the fawns are born in the spring. They can do a lot of damage to trees and bushes, so many people work to keep these animals away. Most methods of scaring away deer work on rabbits as well.

There are lots of ways to keep deer out of your garden. Here are several that people swear work for them.

I haven't had major problems at my house, but recently learned that could be my dog's doing. Apparently their droppings can convince deer to take the long way around your yard. Another option along the same vein is to purchase Coyote urin, which comes in both liquid and crystal form, and can be purchased online, if you don't have a local outlet.

Many people use movement-sensing lights. These seem to work great, but you have to move them every few weeks, so the deer don't get too used to them and decide they aren't a threat after all. If you have neighbors close by, you also need to be sure the lights won't shine into their bedroom windows late at night.

Another option is a home-made spray. My mother-in-law swears by this stuff, as do many other people who belong to a garening forum I frequent. There are lots of different recipes, but they all tend to include raw egg, hot sauce and/or cayenne pepper and/or chopped garlic. Some use water to thin out the solution, while others use yogurt or milk. In any case, an egg, a cup or water and either something hot like cayenne, or pungent like garlic mix well, let to set for 6-24 hours, and then dripped or sprayed onto your plants can really keep the deer away. The upside of the spray is that it's very inexpensive to make, the down side is that it needs to be reapplied every few days, especially if you are watering often, have heavy rains or snow storms. There are scads of recipes located here.

Another option only available in warner climes or during spring, summer and early fall, are motion-sensing machines that spray deer when they get too close. Sometimes these are in the form of scarecrows or other objects. Like the lights, these have to be moved periodically to continue to be affective. You also have to keep them attached to a water source at all times, which can be a struggle if you are having to pull hoses to different areas of the yard to water every day.

Another option would be to start out with deer-resistant plants to begin with. Many spring bulbs, trees, bushes and pother plants list on the packaging whether deer like them, but if the animals are hungry enough, even these can sometimes become Bambi's dinner.

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