Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh Dear - Damn Deer!

While I live in Chicago in the broadest sense of the word, technically I'm in the suburbs. I'm lucky to be situated near the forest preserve - so wildflowers naturally creep over into my yard.

However, so do the damn deer!

There is a path right through my yard. They sleep curled up by the driveway. The family walk around with the little babies. It's really very nice to see. On the other hand, they eat plants in my garden. DAMN DEER.

They munch on my: oaks, maples, pines, roses, Switchgrass, viburnums, ferns, hostas, iris, tulips, and lots of my perennials. They seem to especially favor the new shoots early in the spring and summer. They graze on the flower buds just before they bloom and new leaves when they soft and sweet.  Then during the summer they ignore my garden. They let it recoup for a few months. Then they start at it again in the fall and early winter. DAMN White-tailed Deer!. 



The tell tale sign of deer attack for me is 1) the height of the break in the plant (it's too high to be a rabbit) and 2) the jagged edge of the leaf. This is from the deer tearing the tender morsel away.  Here are a few shots of hostas and perennials that the deer have attacked.


Deer Snacked Perennial


Deer chewed Hosta
If I was singing a song about deer, it would be something like "Hello Bambi, nice to see you. Keep on walking!"  So I've found two ways to keep deer away from my garden. One is fool-proof, the other a good bet.

The fool-proof method is a nice big fence! No surprise, physical barrier is the best. The fence is about 5 ft high and they never bother to jump it.

The second technique is to use a chemical product called Deer Off.  This has the double whammy of smelling terrible (rotten eggs literally) and tasting bad (garlic and hot peppers!)  It's easy to apply by spraying.  The container says every three months - but I use it every month. It works like a wolf (aka really well.)

I've also learned to plant items which the deers don't really care for - for example daffodils rather than tulips. But I see that they just don't like these plants as much - meaning that they will still nibble on them at some times. 

Have you found anything that works? Post a comment or email me - I'd love to know.

Happy Gardening