dear, the deer are doing it again ĖĖ eating
everything in sight in your lovely yard.
winter can be your worst deer-related nightmare because
itís when their natural food supply of acorns, grasses
and tender foliage is pretty much gone.
that happens, deer look for other goodies to devour, and
those treats are usually located in yards filled with
evergreen shrubs and trees. Those same deer often
come back for more and better stuff in spring and summer
when your prettiest plants are putting on their seasonal
call out to gardeners, asking for deer-deterrent
gardening tips, yields no lack of response.
Orband gardens with some of the greatest deer pressure
anyone can experience, thanks to the herds that roam the
battlefields that surround his home in Yorktown, Va.
are multiple herds that live, shelter and feed in my
subdivision," says Orband, a retired Virginia
Cooperative Extension agent.
are not in my garden during the day, but I find deer
tracks in the garden the next day ... in any season.
There is not much to nibble on in the winter but they
are scouting and looking. I have some fencing up but
deer are able to find a way into the garden."
than 20 years ago, Orband knew that if he wanted to
garden, he had to focus on plants that deer dislike.
First, he started with shady plants and then got into
fern and fern allies.
have lots of other plants in the garden also," he
have found that deer will walk by fernsó although last
winter was so bad that I saw nibbling on the autumn
fern, an evergreen fern, but not a complete feed."
he preferred to avoid netting plants to protect them,
Orband has done just that, including aucuba, Solomonís
seal, camellia, maples, chindo viburnum and hostas.
thought that I would never do that but if you want to
enjoy the plant, you will look through the net," he
many gardeners, Orband tried many different deer
repellents over the years, including the popular Liquid
Fence that is made to repel deer and rabbits.
Nothing is 100 percent reliable, he admits.
2014, I was using one deterrent religiously and thought
that this might be the one, but one day after I sprayed
that night, the deer ravaged the garden that
evening," he says. "If they are hungry,
it does not matter."
Chapman, a gardener who also lives in Yorktown, agrees.
use a combination of Liquid Fence and granular Deer
Scram," she says.
two together keep browsing to a minimum, but does not
eliminate it entirely."
Cooperative Extension recommends a deer-resistant plant
list that includes American holly, barberry, boxwood,
daffodil, butterfly bush, mahonia, river birch, ferns,
rose of Sharon, spurges, herbs, hyacinth, iris, lambís
ear, marigold, dusty miller, false cypress, peony,
poppy, rhubarb and hellebore. Vegetables require
fencing, which must be tall enough Ė think eight feet
ó to prevent deer jumping over it.
speaking, exclusion is always the best option,"
says Dan Nortman, York County, Va., extension agent.
"Whether through legal harvesting, fencing or
protection of individual plants of high monetary or
sentimental value, exclusion is the only way that works
are generally ineffective, and are rendered next to
useless when used on a highly palatable plant or during
a drought. During a drought, wild food sources are gone
or quickly depleted and our landscapes are often the
only source of food. In these instances, deer wonít
even blink in the presence of a repellent."
Williamsburg, Va., master gardeners like Sally Sissel
conducted a survey of area residents to identify the
shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals that are often or
sometimes browsed by deer. The list also includes plants
that deer tend to ignore.
as the report points out and experienced gardeners know,
hungry deer eat just about anything and everything.
deer do not harm backyard chickens, they can disturb the
gardens that most chicken-keepers also grow.
people in our chicken group use motion-activated
sprinklers to deter animals, including chickens, from
getting into gardens and to keep predators from
approaching coops," says Carol Bartram of Yorktown,
found of PeCK, or Peninsula Chicken Keepers.
are also sold as deer deterrents."
Williamsburg, gardener Joanne Roberts says she finds
that deer dislike ferns, walking stick, forsythia,
nandina, iris, liriope, mondo grass, lambís ear,
columbine, goldenrod and verbena.
Hampton, Va., Greg Hajos says deer problems are a
perennial topic of discussion among members of the
Langley Garden Club. Experimentation has taught them
that fencing smaller plots instead of fencing one big
area works best.
donít seem to like jumping into small spaces," he
says. "Theoretically deer donít have good depth
perception ó eyes on sides of their heads rather than
binocular vision with two eyes on the front ó so a
fence leaning in or out at about 45 degrees will fluster
Yorktown, Jan Wiener suggests a solution that
should be done only under the privacy of
darkness. After watching a vineyard eaten to
nubs and hundreds of hostas devoured, Wiener had her
husband and male friends urinate all over different
parts of the yard. Online, human and animal urine
is suggested as a deterrent; sources suggest collecting
urine and using a spray bottle to spray around plants.
havenít seen deer since," says Wiener.