June 20, 2014
Help! My Garden’s Missing!
Nothing is more frustrating than planting a garden or flower bed and shrubs only to wake up to… nothing. During the night deer or critters decimated your beautiful landscape. One year I planted two rows of lavender to line the front walkway to my house and the very next morning something had eaten every single plant down to the roots. While deer and rabbits are notorious landscape chompers, there’s a plethora of wildlife that might be chowing down on your plants, too.
While no method is 100% effective, there are a few different products and ideas you can try to lessen the feeding fiesta. I met with Bucks Country Garden’s Horticulturist and Arborist David Jones to pick his brain about the best way to combat hungry wildlife, especially deer. The obvious choice is to have a fence installed. Few people are aware that a deer can jump about 10 ft. if they have a running start. Does this mean you have to install a 10 ft. fence? No, but it does mean you have to be wise in your fence choice. A 4 ft. picket or wire fence will keep deer out if the width of the fenced area doesn’t allow the deer to get a running start. Another good option would be to construct a 7 ft. black plastic deer fence. The black plastic makes it impossible for deer to distinguish the height of the fence; therefore, deer don’t attempt the jump.
If a fence isn’t an option in your neighborhood, a good choice would be to try a commercial repellant. “Liquid Fence is our most popular product,” says David. “It’s great because it’s an all-natural product that can be used on your veggie garden, as well as your other landscape plantings. Deer do not like it’s scent” The best way to use Liquid Fence is to apply it once, repeat one week later, and then repeat on a monthly basis or after heavy rain.
Another good option that is safe for your vegetable garden and landscape is Sweeney’s Deer Repellant. The neat thing about this product is that the mix of all-natural ingredients (dried blood, pepper, cloves and meat meal) is placed inside waterproof capsules that you hang around your plants. When the wind blows, it carries the scent of the repellant on the breeze, keeping deer away. “One customer bought Sweeney’s Deer Repellant at our store and took it down to North Carolina to use on a plantation, “ says David. “She emailed me later to say how well the product was working.”
Deer Scram is another natural repellant made from ingredients similar to Sweeney’s Deer Repellant; however, the method of use is different. When using Deer Scram, apply it to the ground 18 in. away from the plants in a strip 16-24 inches wide, depending on the size of the deer population. “What really sets this product apart from the others is that it is effective under snow,” says David.
Growing plants that deer find repulsive is another fantastic option, especially when combined with a good repellant. On growing less appealing plants, David agrees with Stephen M. Vantassel, a wildlife expert from the University of Nebrask-Lincoln, who says, “You could say it’s the equivalent of us humans choosing between a hot fudge sundae and broccoli.” Shrubs such as Andromeda, Barberry, Boxwood, Japanese Plum Yew and Russian Cypress are good choices. Mosses, ferns and ornamental grasses are also good options because deer find their texture unappetizing. The strong scent of herbs such as sage, parsley, curry, fennel, and garlic will also deter deer.
Of course, one of the best deer deterrents is owning a roving dog, but not everyone has one of those.
Dalissa Reeder | Marketing Assistant
David Jones | Horticulturist, Arborist & Customer Service Specialist