Deer are beautiful and majestic creatures. No matter when we see them, we can’t help but be awed by their beauty, grace and almost ethereal quality. We tend to see them only in passing either from the road or amongst natures many playgrounds, and this only adds to their mystique. However, if you live in an area that’s heavily populated by deer, you know that while their shy nature may prevent us from seeing very much of them, sometimes their presence can be all too noticeable. Waking up in the morning to see a garden that’s ravaged by deer is something that every keen gardener dreads. We put a whole lot of time, effort and capital into creating a beautiful and tranquil garden and with spring well and truly here, we want to ensure that we can enjoy it. While we do not want to cause any harm or discomfort to these wonderful animals, we also want to protect our flowers, vegetables and plants from their voracious appetites and trampling hooves. Fortunately, there are a great many ways in which we can keep them at bay without any risk of harming them…
Getting to know you, deer
The first thing to do is ensure that your garden has indeed been damaged by a deer. In some cases, while they may differ wildly in size, deer damage may look very similar to rabbit damage but for a few subtleties. Both are likely to head straight for your vegetables and nibble away. However, as rabbits have pronounced incisors they will leave a cleaner cut while a deer’s lack of incisors will result in a jagged, tattered edge at the tip of the leaf. Deer bucks will also damage trees by “thrashing”, whipping their antlers against the bark of any trees in your garden. This will cause the bark to fall away in tatters. You will also be able to recognize a deer infiltration by their distinctive hoof prints and droppings.
Of course, the best way to keep deer out of the garden is by coming up with some appropriate fencing ideas. But it’s not enough to throw up any old fence. A fence needs to be erected to certain specifications to keep deer at bay. A deer fence should be at least 4’9” (150cm) in height to prevent agile young deer from leaping over it to get at the goodies growing in your garden. As deer are fairly strong it needs to be constructed from strong yet flexible materials while invisible enough to complement your garden.
You should also consider placing netting tubes around trees and shrubs or plastic tubing around saplings.
Some gardens try to frighten deer away with sirens, bright lights or streamers. While these may work temporarily they are not a sustainable solution. Deer are intelligent creatures and will quickly realize that the loud noises and bright lights hold no danger for them and will eventually ignore them.
A better bet is to take steps to repel deer. Fortunately there are plenty of deer repellent sprays on the market that are harmless to animals and plants and free of petrochemicals.
We can still keep these beautiful animals out of our gardens without risking harming them, with a bare minimum of expense and relative ease.