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GardenSMART :: Tips and Tactics to Keep Deer Out of Your Yard

Tips and Tactics to Keep Deer Out of Your Yard

By Bobbex, Inc.
Photograph courtesy of Bobbex, Inc.

Gardening is such an enjoyable activity, but when deer are near, not so much! If you garden, you most likely have a problem with deer, 12 months a year. Deer are creatures of habit; they quickly learn where desirable food sources are and continually visit areas where food supply is hearty. In spring and summer, your backyard is likely to be their go-to-favorite spot to feast on plentiful plants and shrubs.

Once deer discover your yard, they'll hop a 6' fence with ease; ignore any scare tactics you've established and show up on schedule to devour plant after plant, relentlessly. Clues of deer damage are easily identified; roughly clipped leaves, buds and blossoms vanishing overnight, hoof prints in soil, and small piles of round black droppings. Also, deer can reach leaves as high as 6', so damage that high will eliminate the possibility that the damage is from smaller animals.

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Hungry deer will eat almost anything—including the plants listed on the "deer don't eat" list. But in spring and summer, when food supply is generous, deer can be discerning.

Prickly, fuzzy or hairy foliage: Plants with small, bristly (or soft) hairs are good choices since deer don't like fuzzy or hairy textures against their tongues. Try lambs ear, yarrow or poppies. Plants with spines on their leaves, like globe thistle and holly are prickly and deer generally avoid them.

Grasses: Deer much prefer flowering plants and woody plant shoots over grasses, and white-tailed deer can't survive on grasses alone. Deer will typically eat grasses when there's nothing else to choose from. Ornamental grasses are pretty and plentiful at garden centers, they add structure and interest to landscapes and deer will most likely leave them alone.

Fragrant foliage: Deer choose food sources with their sense of smell; if a plant smells distasteful they're less likely to eat it. Fragrant foliage can confuse deer and discourage feeding. Lavender, salvia, lantana, bearded iris and bee balm all fit the bill.

Deer don't like: Spiraea, rose of Sharon, marigold, weigela, forsythia, foxglove, peony, bleeding heart, astilbe, snapdragon and cotoneaster, to name a few.

Forget fencing, resort to rocks!

Since we know deer can jump a 6' fence easily, and they can even clear an 8' fence unless obstacles—like tree branches, or thorny shrubs—prevent a clear take-off or landing spot, fencing isn't your best option to keep deer out. A good alternative to fencing is to create a 6' to 8' wide border of a rocky, uneven area around your prized plants and shrubs. Hooved animals won't walk over unstable, rocky areas; just be sure the rocky area is wide enough to prevent deer from leaping right over it and landing inside your beds!

Reach for a reliable repellent and use it religiously

There are many deer repellents on the market; however, you'll need a reliable repellent, applied in every season, religiously, to keep deer out of your yard. So how do you determine the reliability of a repellent? Third party testing results is your answer. Out of nine similar repellents comparison tested by the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture, Bobbex Deer was cited number one. Only a fence barrier is more effective.

Bobbex Deer Repellent combines scent and taste deterrents. The all-natural repellent blends six scents, including rotten eggs, garlic, and clove oil (among other things) to mimic predator scents, classifying it as an effective fear repellent. It also tastes terrible to deer, but is actually good for plants because it contains trace nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus. The product dries clear, is harmless to humans and pets, won't burn plants and its odor, after 24 hours, is undetectable to humans, but deer are still repelled by it. Bobbex is safe for use on the most sensitive plants and can be used on shrubs, trees or as a bulb dip.

Deer are ravenous in springtime after the ravages of winter. Because they will return to areas where they found tempting fodder again and again, keep them on the move by applying Bobbex on all stem, flower, leaf and bud growth in your yard and garden. During this peak growing season, spray Bobbex about every two weeks or when one to two inches of new growth appears.

Using a variety of tactics to keep deer out of your yard is good practice; using a third party tested repellent religiously is your best bet. For more information on Bobbex, please visit:


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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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