Discouraging Deer in the Garden
Discouraging Deer in the Garden
The populations of white-tailed deer have risen dramatically in the eastern United States in recent years. In addition to abundant deer, many have expanded their range and seem well suited to living in rural and even urban residential areas. Deer are opportunists, and will feed upon over 700 species of plants. Unfortunately, many of these preferred plants are food crops or ornamental plants that are often grown in gardens. Deer will feed heaviest in late spring, summer, and fall; adult deer will consume an average of 6 to 10 pounds of food per day.
There are a number of methods available to discourage deer from an area, each with varying levels of effectiveness. By far the use of fencing is the most effective long-term solution to preventing deer damage. Although deer can jump fences exceeding ten feet in height, most of the time they prefer not to, and a height of eight feet is usually sufficient. It is suggested that the fences to be electrified, to be kept clear of vegetation at least six feet from the fence, and to have the bottom strand no more than six inches from the ground.
A number of repellants are commercially available that are advertised to repel deer. Repellants work by either having a bad taste or odor to the deer. Although most work in the short term, they often must be applied to the target plants on a regular basis. There are many types of repellants including human hair, mothballs, bloodmeal, soap, and commercial chemicals. These should be rotated in usage regularly and applied every 3-4 weeks. The cost effectiveness of this measure is best when the area of application is small and easily accessible.
While effective, the use of dogs to deter deer has limited applications. Most residential areas have leash laws for dogs and prohibit them from running at large. Even with the use of electric invisible fences to contain dogs, not all dogs will respect an electric fence when pursuing a deer or other wildlife.
Selecting Plants that Deer Dislike
Another method to reduce deer damage in prone areas is to choose plants that deer do not like. Studies have shown that there are plants that are preferred by deer and some that are generally disliked. Hungry deer will eat almost anything and prefer young tender plants to older tougher shoots. Preferred deer plants include fruit trees such as apples, pears, and plums; cedars and arborvitae, viburnum, birch, dogwood, daylilies, hostas, hydrangea, and yews. Many popular ornamental annual and perennial plants (because they are usually tender and succulent) are very susceptible to deer browsing.
Plants that have been observed to be rarely damaged in the landscape by deer browse, include: (Source: Cornell University)
Ornamental chives and onions
Painted and Shasta daisy
Encounters with wildlife are becoming more common in towns and neighborhoods.
Habitat loss to fragmentation, urbanization, and expanding agricultural production means urban and suburban areas will increasingly become options for wildlife searching for homes. Song birds, snakes, lizards, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, deer and even bears are not uncommon visitors to urban and suburban backyards.
I am thoroughly thankful I made the move to coastal Mississippi a dozen years ago. One of my truly enjoyable fall pursuits happens after the temperatures have gotten chilly. On bright, sunny fall days, I really like driving on Highway 90 to my office at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi along the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s September, and that means hummingbirds are preparing to migrate to warmer climates for the winter.
These tiny creatures need lots of energy to make this trip. You can help by providing feeders for them to visit as they pass your way. (Photo by Jonathan Parrish)
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Deer season is over, and prescribed fire, timber management, planting food plots and other habitat improvements come later in the year, but one activity that's perfect for February and early March is planting trees.
A project by the Pearl River County Master Gardeners aims to help increase populations of monarch butterflies by providing habitat and educating the public.
This past spring, the group revamped a portion of the children’s educational garden at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum to serve as an official, certified Monarch Waystation. Master Gardener members recently dedicated the garden with the placement of a sign from Monarch Watch, the nonprofit organization that manages the waystation program.