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Homegrown- reducing deer damage

Reducing Deer Damage

by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- White-tailed deer are fairly selective in what they eat when food is plentiful, preferring buds, leaves and tender shoots.  When the environment is stressed, deer will eat just about any plants.  Additionally, antler-rubbing from late September to early November can destroy the bark on trees with a trunk diameter of six inches or less, killing the trees. 

    The best and most expensive way to protect a garden plot from deer damage is to fence it.  A 6-foot high welded wire fence is an effective barrier.  Another option is to cage your plants on all sides and over the top with a wire enclosure large enough to accommodate their growth but prevent them from being browsed.  This works well with smaller plantings.

There is no repellent on the market that will protect your fruit trees and ornamentals 100% from deer damage.  However, there are odor and taste repellents available that will repel deer if you start using them before damage occurs.  These will also work on flower beds and vegetable plants.

    There are quite a few home remedies that people report success with.  One recipe calls for 3 raw eggs, 3 tablespoons of hot sauce, 3 tablespoons of garlic and enough water to process well in the blender.  Add the resulting slurry to a gallon of water and spray on trees and plants to be protected.  Of course, this will result in the odor of rotten egg after some time in the sun, so it may not be preferable near your house.  For more deer repellent recipes you can make yourself, go to:  These biodegradable mixtures will need to be reapplied after heavy rains.

    One homeowner told me to tie bars of Irish Spring soap onto trees.  It looks bizarre, but I’ll have to admit the deer stayed away from those particular trees.  I’ve also been told to hang wads of human hair in my trees and sprinkle blood meal around the base of trees. 

    If you are still in the process of landscaping your property, you may want to consider using trees and shrubs that are rarely damaged by deer.  These include : barberry, paper birch, boxwood, American holly, and Colorado blue spruce.  Three trees that grow well in our area and are seldom severely damaged by deer are honey locust, Austrian pine and common lilac.  My three-year-old windbreak of Colorado blue spruce, honey locust and lilac has never been damaged by deer.

    Best of luck in your efforts to keep the deer uninterested in your plantings.